As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, Fitzgibbon Hospital is working hard to make sure all patients, staff, vendors and guests are safe and well cared for. A cross-functional team has been meeting daily to ensure an organizational-wide approach to policies and procedures, with the needs of patients at the forefront.
This team meets daily, with representatives from administration, nursing, laboratory, physicians and clinics, supply chain, patient registration, finance, IT, facilities and public relations. While your healthcare workers are literally caring for patients around the clock as they always have, the Fitzgibbon organization has taken some recent actions to limit exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
First, all individuals seeking entry into Fitzgibbon Hospital, including patients and employees, are undergo a “symptom screening” for COVID-19 with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control prior to being allowed into the facility. There are two entry points for non-staff individuals to the hospital at the front lobby and Emergency Department and another into the Fitzgibbon Medical Clinic. Additionally, employees have been limited to designated entrances manned at various times by screeners, depending on peak shift changes.
“I just want to commend our staff and our community for their long hours and their focus through all of the changes that we are seeing surrounding COVID-19. This is a challenging time for all of us, and seeing the compassion and the care that each person is taking for those around them is really a testament to their dedication,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital.
As part of the need to limit exposure, Fitzgibbon Hospital also implemented a no-visitor policy. There are certain exceptions to the policy, including for minors and for those who need assistance moving about the facility, however those accompanying individuals also must be screened before entering and may be denied entry, depending on the results of the screening. For the visitor policy in its entirety please go to www.fitzgibbon.org/covid19.
In addition, the community is encouraged to check this COVID-19 page on the hospital’s website frequently, as the organization is engaging in discussions as the situation evolves.
In addition to screening those entering the facility, the hospital instituted curbside testing for symptomatic individuals with a doctor’s order. These tests are conducted outside the Emergency Department in triage tents. This minimizes co-mingling of potentially positive COVID-19 individuals with other patients and staff. It should be noted that while private laboratories are still ramping up their capacity to test for COVID-19, the current turnaround time for results could be up to seven days. This is expected to change as more labs change their protocols for testing.
Individuals who are in need of emergency assistance are able to receive care as they always have, whether it be as a walk-in to the Emergency Department or via ambulance. Since COVID-19 is a virus, individuals are encouraged to not seek testing unless they are showing symptoms that require medical attention or believe they have been exposed to a positive individual. Many who have COVID-19 exhibit few symptoms and are not in need of additional medical treatment. These individuals are encouraged to stay home in self-quarantine for 14 days rather than exposing others to the virus.
Fitzgibbon Hospital has also implemented common sense changes to operations inside the hospital, including modifying the way it provides salads and silverware in the Fitz Café, the removal of high-touch items such as salt and pepper shakers and instructing staff and guests to use disposable cups instead of refillable cups which may pass along germs.
“All of the actions we have taken are really common sense:” said Littrell. “Increasing the number of times we clean and disinfect surfaces, instituting more hand hygiene dispensers throughout the facility, lowering the number of individuals coming into the facility from the outside. The feedback we have heard from patients who are still coming for their radiology, physician visits and other services has been very positive.”
Littrell noted that while the hospital is continuing to provide services as it always has, they have converted some service lines to more of a “call ahead” approach. This includes public requests for medical records. Patients should call (660)831-3227 from 8 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday to request their record and HIM will arrange a time to meet in the facility parking lot or provide additional instructions.
Residents of The Living Center are limited to exposure of the COVID-19 virus in similar ways with a more restrictive no-visitor policy. The 99-bed facility is also practicing social distancing between residents and is working hard to make technology options available so that loved ones can maintain contact. Skype, Facetime and other web-conferencing apps are all options being utilized so that residents still feel connected to their families.
The community is encouraged to visit www.fitzgibbon.org/covid19 for the latest news and updates as well as reputable sources for information. The page also includes links for downloadable and printable documents in English and Spanish.