Posted on April 29, 2020
COVID-19 has brought healthcare to the forefront of many people’s thoughts, but Peninsula Regional Medical Center is hoping the virus won’t cause a secondary health crisis: people avoiding needed care that isn’t related to COVID-19.
“No one wants to go to the ER during this time, and we understand that,” said Dr. Karin DiBari, Vice President and Chief Physician Executive of the Peninsula Regional Medical Group. “The phone is the first place a patient should go – pick up the phone and contact your doctor’s office. We’re here to make sure you get the care you need. You’re not on your own – you don’t have to make that decision on your own. Use your healthcare partner to decide where to go for care – we are here to help.”
Staying home and social distancing is the right thing to do; however, medical care is still important. “We have launched telemedicine options whenever possible for our patients,” Dr. DiBari said. “When patients need to come in to be seen, we are taking extra steps to ensure the hygiene and safety of our offices. We conduct screenings daily on all staff and have asked them to wear masks to help keep them, and our patients, safer from COVID-19.”
If a provider does need to send a patient to the Emergency Department, there are many extra precautions in place there as well to keep patients safe. Even before patients get to the door, Emergency Department nurses are stationed outside in a triage tent to conduct quick screenings, in order to keep patients who may have COVID-19 away from those who do not. Masks are required for all. Special, separate care areas have been established to prevent cross-infection, and visitors are not permitted to further reduce the possibility of viral spread.
Patients who get admitted will find an inpatient staff that is going above and beyond to keep patients safe and supported. Peninsula Regional Medical Center has always encouraged and welcomed family visitation and a caregiver’s presence at the bedside. Adjusting to the visitor-free COVID-19 world has been a challenge, but it has brought out the best in the team, not only clinical providers but catering and environmental services staff, as they bring extra love and support of patients in the hospital without a loved one by their side.
“We understand that our patients are here without their families. We spend that extra minute with our patients to help comfort them. We call our patients’ families at least once a shift or more if needed to reassure them they are in good hands and things are going well,” said Bobbi Simkins, a registered nurse on 5 West, one of PRMC’s medical floors.
Making the effort to connect, even virtually, is important. In the Emergency Department, not only are there triage tents to help keep Covid-19 and non-Covid patients separated, but there’s also an accommodation for families. “In our Family Virtual Communication Tent, we have an iPad to provide to families with which they can talk to staff or their loved one in the ED since we have restricted visitors. This has been used with great success,” said Angie Brittingham, RN, Director of Emergency Services.
Families can also cheer their loved ones between calls with an e-card at peninsula.org/ecard that they can personalize – it is printed with a colorful design and hand-delivered for a personal touch.
Discharge planners and financial counselors are still working to connect families to resources they will need once they go home.
“We are working with outside facilities to make sure our patients that leave get the care they need outside of the hospital,” Simkins said. “We are making sure to do everything possible to decrease the length of stay for patients. Getting patients back to their families in a timely fashion is a priority.”