POINT OF VIEW: Jefferson Healthcare responds to COVID-19

Mike Glenn

Mike Glenn

JEFFERSON HEALTHCARE PLANNED to deal with several challenging issues in 2020.

A pandemic, however was not on this list. Jefferson County Public Health, Jefferson Healthcare and several other municipalities and community organizations have been working on a plan aimed at keeping our communities informed, safe and well during this precarious time.

Our planning work has three main components: monitor, test, and communicate; flatten the infection growth curve; and plan for increased health services utilization.

Jefferson Healthcare stood up our Incident Command Center on Feb. 4. We have been closely monitoring the regional and local situations and, in collaboration with the Public Health Department, communicating with the public at every opportunity.

This has been challenging due to changing standards from regulatory agencies and conflicting rhetoric from Washington, D.C.

However, we’ve stayed on top of key developments and done our best to communicate with the communities we serve.

Our Incident Command Center is fully operational and gives providers and hospital/community leaders time and space to problem solve and contingency plan.

We have increased dramatically our ability to test and have sent nearly 200 COVID-19 tests to regional laboratories.

We plan to keep testing as long as necessary because wide-scale testing is the best way to quantify community transmission.

Rapid community transmission points to rapid growth of local disease, which will no doubt lead to rapid increase in clinic, emergency department and hospital use. This is what we are trying to avoid.

Social distancing, isolation, closing schools, and canceling large group events are some of the best methods to slow community transmission and flatten the growth curve to a level that will not overwhelm the local health care system.

Our most important work is to prepare to care for our community.

We have revised treatment policy and protocols, trained staff and implemented several new services and interventions to keep residents informed, safe and well.

We have launched a COVID-19 Nurse Consult Line at 360-344-3094 — now available seven days a week — to answer questions and schedule appointments in the recently opened COVID-19/Respiratory Illness Evaluation Station.

This week, we opened an appointment-only drive-thru testing station at the hospital to increase access to testing.

We have developed care and testing protocols for possible COVID-19 patients presenting to our campuses to make sure we provide safe and effective care for patients and staff.

We have inventoried all personal protection equipment (masks, gowns, etc.) and developed use protocols to ensure staff is protected and safe while they are caring for patients.

And to keep you informed, we are updating daily our COVID-19 web page at https://jefferson healthcare.org/covid-19 and posting informative video content on our Facebook page.

We also made the difficult decision to postpone all support groups andwellness services, and restrict access to the hospital and clinics for all discretionary purposes, like using the cafeteria.

Patients can bring one guest along to help with logistics and support, but we are restricting other visitors to make sure our limited supply of masks and other supplies remains available for our staff and existing patients.

Exceptions will be made for extraordinary circumstances, and we expect our community members to understand and comply with this temporary restriction to keep our most vulnerable residents safe and well.

These are unprecedented times and it is crucial we pull together as a community to take care of each other.

And rest assured, Jefferson Healthcare has a plan in place and a team of dedicated staff and providers fully committed to doing whatever it takes to get our community through this.

________

Mike Glenn is the CEO of Jefferson Healthcare hospital based in Port Townsend.

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