COVID-19 Crisis Requires Patience and Grace | Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System

COVID-19 Crisis Requires Patience and Grace

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Mon, April 06, 2020 -- Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System

COVID-19 is unlike any crisis we have dealt with during the past 100 years. This is more than a Kansas or national issue; it is worldwide in scope.

There are no norms in attacking this life-threatening disease, so we break ground every day searching for new ways to fight the pandemic.

I can go to any of our Healthcare System organizations at any time with an assurance that our staff is up to the task. Through my work with Hutch Regional, I have the opportunity to visit the city’s other health care providers and know we all share a commitment to providing high-quality care to our community.

Maintaining a pristine, clean environment is our focus every day in healthcare and, as a result of COVID-19, we have taken this obligation to a new level. Maintaining a spotless hospital environment and patient safety go hand-in-hand.

Current guidelines include:

  • Limiting how germs can enter the facility by using telemedicine when possible, restricting points of entry to the hospital, limiting visitors, screening patients for respiratory symptoms, and encouraging patient respiratory hygiene.
  • Establishing separate triage areas to isolate Emergency Department patients with COVID-19 symptoms from unrelated medical issues.

Healthcare staff entering a patient’s room that is suspected or known to have COVID-19 are asked to:

  • Emphasize hand hygiene
  • Wear a face mask before entering a patient’s room
  • Put on eye protection upon entering a patient’s room or care area
  • Wear gloves during visits to patient rooms
  • Wear an isolation gown when entering a patient’s room

Some have asked about the risks of being in contact with healthcare staff outside the hospital environment.

Healthcare professionals are just like those who work in other businesses in the Hutchinson community. When their shifts are completed, they are in the community shopping for groceries, picking up takeout orders at local restaurants, or mowing the yard. Our staff adheres to many precautions to reduce the risk of transmitting germs and viruses.

The successful resolution of our current situation will require patience and grace, virtues very important to all of us.

By nature, most of us do not like “social distancing.” We enjoy daily interaction with family, friends and coworkers. Now, we are dealing with an issue that does not have a predictable end. Our wills are being tested in ways we have not seen before. Still, based on our track record for solving national problems during the nearly two and one-half centuries of our nation’s history, there is ample evidence we will make it through this one, too.

This should not be a time to assign blame. Instead, it’s an opportunity to offer goodwill and courtesy to each other. Hopefully, when this crisis is over, we can all work together and decide what needs to be done to prevent COVID-19 from returning.

Also, kudos are due for Dr. Nick Baldetti, Director and Health Officer for the Reno County Health Department. Nick is on the firing line every day overseeing the crisis here in Reno County while coordinating with state and federal government officials. We at Hutch Regional appreciate his leadership and are grateful to be coordinating with him in this critical time. In addition, I am very thankful for all the physicians, nurses, and many other team members who have come together across organizational lines to create a collaborative virus-fighting team.

This crisis is bringing out the best in us as a nation. Last week, downtown Hutchinson was humming with traffic as locals dropped off food items for those who have lost their jobs. Neighbors are offering a helping hand to others, particularly those who are elderly and confined at home. Only by taking care of one another will we be successful in protecting ourselves from this horrible disease.

By Ken Johnson, President and CEO of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System