Your local hospitals and medical practices are well-prepared for COVID-19
By Dr. John Murphy, President and CEO of Nuvance Health
With COVID-19, the new coronavirus, continuing to spread across the globe and finding its way to the United States, there is no better time to remind ourselves of how hospitals and other healthcare facilities are already well-prepared for possible cases, and what you can do to help.
Here at Nuvance Health, COVID-19 preparedness activities began well over a month ago and continue to be refined on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Please rest assured knowing that we have developed and practiced detailed processes to reduce the risk of spreading the virus if individuals with COVID-19 symptoms present at any of our locations, including office practices, ambulatory diagnostic sites, and emergency departments.
Our experts in global health, infectious disease, infection control, emergency preparedness, and communications have been working in collaboration with local and state health departments. We are staying abreast of the frequently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other global and federal agencies and organizations. We are meeting with community leaders to develop comprehensive emergency preparedness programs for our communities.
We are fully prepared for possible COVID-19 cases. Nuvance Health preparedness includes:
- We have implemented provisions for all personnel within the health system who might see an infected patient, in order to have a thorough understanding of the appropriate guidelines for care.
- We have an adequate number of required rooms and supplies — including ventilators, disposable N95 masks, disposable gloves, disposable gowns, and more than 100 negative pressure rooms (NPR). NPRs are used to contain airborne contaminants within the room. We also have the capacity to expand isolation based on demand.
- We are providing our home care agency with additional resources so that, if appropriate, patients can be managed at home.
As for how many admitted COVID-19 patients we have the capacity to treat at each hospital, that depends on how sick each person is. One of the many benefits of being part of a health system with seven hospitals is that we can work together to help balance and accommodate a shifting census if we see an influx in patients.
According to the most recent reports by the CDC, the majority of people infected with COVID-19 are recovering from the virus similar to how most recover from the flu; by resting and treating the symptoms, such as taking acetaminophen for fever. Elderly people, and people with existing health issues, such as lung disease, may require more intensive care.
It’s very important for residents in our communities to know what to do if they think they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, which include persistent coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. Steps include:
- Limit your interactions with others as much as possible. For example, don’t go into work if you’re not feeling well.
- Call your local health department for a phone consultation before going to your doctor’s office, or another medical facility. Tell the health department about your symptoms, if you traveled to China, Italy, Iran, Japan, or South Korea in the last 14 days, or if you’ve had close contact with someone who has recently traveled to these countries. If you meet the clinical criteria for possible infection with COVID-19, your health department will ask you to call your doctor’s office to make arrangements to have you get tested for COVID-19. Testing is done through the state Department of Health (DOH).
- Please do not go to your doctor’s office, urgent care, or the hospital without calling ahead. Please also do not go to the emergency department, unless you are experiencing worrisome symptoms such as shortness of breath. This is so that we can limit the spread of possible infections to other patients and healthcare workers.
Remaining vigilant is the best way to avoid contracting this new coronavirus, and also the flu. Like with the flu, the best precautions to take to reduce the risk of getting sick include frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with warm soap and water, and refraining from touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Further, follow travel recommendations by the CDC found here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
We routinely plan and drill for different scenarios that could possibly affect our communities so that we are ready if something actually occurs. This is what we do, and who we are. And we pledge to keep you informed as new information becomes available.
Nuvance Health includes Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Sharon Hospital, and Western Connecticut Medical Group in Connecticut; and, Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital, Vassar Brothers Medical Center, and Health Quest Medical Practice in New York