It takes hard work and a lot of planning to prepare a hospital to once again handle non-emergency surgeries and elective procedures during the pandemic. Dr. Sharon Carney, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of Trinity Health Mid- Atlantic, says a top priority is the safety of the staff and patients, and it's important for patients to trust that healthcare providers can care for them safely. At Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic hospitals, including St. Mary Medical Center, Nazareth Hospital, Mercy Catholic Medical Center and Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington, all staff members are checked daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and each must wear a mask, and protective equipment when needed. Everyone entering the facilities is screened for signs of the virus.
The number of visitors continues to be greatly restricted. Maternity patients are permitted to have one visitor and patients who are near the end of life may also have a visitor. Each visitor is properly screened and must wear a mask. In addition, patients are tested for COVID-19 prior to any surgical procedure. That allows the hospital to have what Dr. Carney calls COVID-free areas, where only patients without COVID-19 or COVID symptoms are treated, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Social distancing is in force throughout all facilities. Waiting room chairs are now spread apart to maintain the proper distance. Cleaning has been increased with a greater emphasis on disinfecting all surfaces, especially those that are touched most frequently, including stretchers, elevator buttons, computers and the arms of sofas and chairs. Tele-medicine has been a valuable tool during the pandemic and Dr. Carney says its use will continue for consultations and many office visits.