Barton CEO: Collectively we can protect our community (Opinion)
In the past week, we have seen the increasing person-to-person transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in California and across the world. While it’s likely we will see COVID-19 in our community, we want you to feel prepared, rather than anxious.
There is much we can do both as a health system, and collectively as a community to mitigate COVID-19 spread and limit exposure. Local businesses and families can join Barton in implementing social distancing strategies to help keep vulnerable populations safe.
Anyone experiencing respiratory illness, or concerned about symptoms, should stay home and call our 24/7 Barton COVID-19 Clinical Health Line: 530-600-1999.
As a health system, Barton’s top priority remains the safety of the community and our healthcare providers, and we are prepared to safely screen, test and care for affected patients. In addition to following CDC guidelines, Barton is working alongside our local health departments to ensure those who meet COVID-19 screening criteria are screened safely and rapidly.
Medical services at Barton Memorial Hospital and outpatient clinical offices are open; however, we have instituted operational changes to protect our healthcare workers and patients from potential exposure.
These changes include restricting hospital access to entrances with screening protocols in place, moving all outpatient lab work to our off-hospital location, and most importantly limiting visitor access to our Skilled Nursing Facility, which houses some of our most vulnerable patients. We continue to make operational changes as the circumstances of COVID-19 shift.
On Monday, Barton opened a standalone respiratory screening center to provide a safe screening location separate from other medical offices and the ER, which increases access to services for those in need while minimizing exposure to others. Throughout this week we have hosted conference calls with local medical provider offices to share pertinent information about how to refer patients to this screening center since this location is for provider referrals only.
In the coming week, we will open a drive-up screening clinic, allowing individuals to receive screening without leaving their car. This further limits potential exposure to others by keeping sick individuals out of shared medical reception areas, in addition to reducing interaction with healthcare workers.
To protect our team of healthcare providers, Barton is following CDC guidelines including monitoring inventory of Personal Protective Equipment daily to ensure appropriate supply is available to manage anticipated patient needs and staff safety. Additionally, we instituted mandatory retraining of proper PPE and hand hygiene protocols to ensure our procedures are top of mind for all Barton employees.
Each day, Barton leaders virtually meet to review the current COVID-19 situation, including any regional updates and new developments, and all employees are informed via a daily email update.
On a larger scale, we all can play a role in preventing widespread transmission of COVID-19 in our community- besides staying informed, we encourage you to be proactive in reducing exposure for any virus, including COVID-19:
• Stay home when you are sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If handwashing is unavailable, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
• Consider social distancing including liamiting large social gatherings, and keeping a minimum distance of 6 feet between people.
These prevention methods are our best defense, and are something we can all do to ensure continued health in our area. High risk populations, including older adults, people with compromised immune systems and people with chronic medical conditions are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 – it’s essential we take preventative measures to protect these members of our community.
COVID-19 information is changing rapidly — it’s important to gather updates from public health officials like your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Updated information about COVID-19 is available on our website, bartonhealth.org, or those experiencing respiratory symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath can call our Barton COVID-19 Clinical Health Line: 530-600-1999 to determine their best course of action.
Dr. Clint Purvance is the President and CEO for Barton Health.
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