Op-Ed: St. Elizabeth Stands Ready to Face COVID-19
The following op-ed is written by St. Elizabeth Healthcare President and CEO Garren Colvin.
There is not a person in our community who has been able to avoid the impact of COVID-19 – whether through conversations with friends, virtual school schedules for students while at home, or avoided hugs and handshakes. Throughout our long history, St. Elizabeth has answered the call to serve time after time when our community has needed us most. Rest assured, we are right here and stand ready once again, to care for you and your loved ones during this crisis.
Since the outbreak took hold in early March, we’ve leaned on our existing preparedness protocols and initiated additional proactive measures to keep our patients, visitors, volunteers, physicians and associates as safe and healthy as possible. Led by our experienced Infectious Disease Response Team (IDRT), these efforts include the following:
Right Here for Our Patients and Their Families Given the nature of this virus, sanitization, sterilization, and social distancing are a top priority. We have scaled back visitation rights, reduced the number of available entry points for patients/visitors to enter each hospital location, begun wearing surgical masks when treating all patients, and begun taking the temperature of all who enter our facilities each day. All elective surgeries have been suspended. We’ve added additional state-of- the-art sanitizing stations in all of our buildings. On a daily basis, we are deep cleaning patient rooms, including floors and ceilings. At least twice per shift, our environmental services teams are applying safe, CDC-approved germicide to common areas, lobbies, restrooms and elevators. These precautions will keep our facilities as safe as possible.
We know these precautions are unprecedented, and some might be challenging for our patients and their loved ones, but rest assured our associates are continuing to deliver outstanding care and comfort to our patients. Wi-Fi enabled devices are encouraged for Virtual Video Visits and patients at home can use these virtual health options for physician consultations if they have a health concern. A Virtual Video Visit allows patients to speak to their physician using live audio and video through a mobile phone, tablet or MyChart. These virtual visits provide patients the opportunity to socially distance and help prevent the spread of disease.
Right Here for Our Community As healthcare experts, we’re taking the opportunity to share our knowledge on preventing and navigating a COVID-19 diagnosis. We’re providing real-time updates through our website and social media channels. We’ll continue to provide direct communication with the latest developments, outlining actions being taken and recommended patient precautions.
The incubation period for COVID-19 is estimated to be between one and 14 days. During the incubation period, infected individuals have the potential to spread the virus even if they do not yet exhibit symptoms. We ask that everyone take all necessary precautions to remain as healthy as possible. Please keep in mind:
• The most effective methods to avoid infecting others include: hand washing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or with your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze; and maintaining distance from others when possible.
• Even if you feel well, our physicians recommend that you maintain distance (approximately 6 feet) from others whenever possible.
• If you or your family member show symptoms of illness, including cough, congestion, fever and/or body aches, contact your primary care provider.
• If you have a routine visit scheduled with your primary care provider or a specialist, please call the office to confirm the need for you to keep your appointment or ask if it could be conducted through a St. Elizabeth Virtual Video Visit.
Just a few weeks ago, the term “social distancing” was not a part of our daily conversation. This situation continues to evolve at a rapid rate, but our care teams are still right here, doing all they can to guide us through this pandemic. Our nation has never encountered anything quite like this in our lifetime, but St. Elizabeth has enormous faith, heart, strength and resiliency. We will rise to the challenge together, caring for each other, our patients, our loved ones and our community.