Staff members at Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) are working diligently and supplies are in adequate stock in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Whitney Gentry, leader of business development at FCMH.
“We have a tremendous staff,” wrote Gentry in an email. “They are working diligently to ensure we are prepared to care for the community. Our Infection Control Specialist, Lindsay Sharp, is sending out regular educational pieces on procedures and training on procedures like intubation to refresh staff. Chaplain Joy Stanforth has sent an inspirational video that we have shared with all staff. As prepared as we are, let’s be honest, this is also a scary time. No one wants to bring the virus home to their loved ones or contract it themselves. Staff knows the community is counting on them and they have a great resolve to answer that call.”
To assist with protecting both staff and patients during this time, Gentry explained that visitation to FCMH is still being restricted, staff members are having temperatures taken daily, staff who are ill are being sent home, all staff members have been fit for N95 masks, staff members are being encouraged to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE), as required by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 are being treated as though they are positive until proven otherwise and are being kept in one wing of the inpatient unit.
PPE, according to OSHA.gov, “is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.”
“Ill patients are coming in either the Emergency Department (ED) or the Medical Arts Building 2 Same Day Care entrance,” wrote Gentry. “Right now, we have the Adena Orthopedic Walk-In Clinic that will serve as an alternate location for patients with an orthopedic injury to go for care. This allows the ED to focus on COVID-19 and critical injuries coming in the ED. We are doing as many telehealth appointments as we can, and the therapy department is still open. The FCMH Cancer Care Clinic has reduced hours and a separate entrance to limit those patients exposure to others as their immune system is compromised. If we get a major surge, all other appointments and procedures may be stopped or redirected as determined by the regional response plan we are establishing with Adena Health System, Holzer Medical Center, Southern Ohio Medical Center and King’s Daughters.”
All departments are taking certain precautions.
Gentry wrote, “Surgical – while we are only doing essential procedures and surgeries at this time, patients coming in for procedures are coming in the main hospital entrance. Dietary – the salad bar in our cafe has been temporarily discontinued and more grab-and-go items have been added. Staff has appropriate PPE materials to use in the delivery of food to patients. The same goes for EVS (environmental services) and maintenance staff.”
The supply of PPE the hospital has is moderate, according to Gentry.
“We are in conservation mode on supplies in an effort to make them last as most items are now on back order until summer. We do have a cache of supplies we keep put back for disasters. Fortunately, we have not yet had to touch that cache,” wrote Gentry. “I know there are other hospitals who have already exhausted their disaster cache. We have gotten a few items from EMA (Emergency Management Agency). Community members and businesses have been outstanding at donating supplies and even making face shields for our caregivers out of supplies they have on hand. It has been very touching to see the support we have received in the way of donated supplies and food for our team.”
When asked how supplies that can be used to help control or curb the symptoms of COVID-19, such as oxygen tubing, nebulizers, thermometer probe sleeves, tissues, medication, etc. are doing, Gentry explained, “we are getting low on thermometer probe sleeves, but we have temporal thermometers that are swiped across the forehead. They can be cleaned after each use. We feel we have an adequate supply of items. Our suppliers put all their customers on allocations to limit their orders each month, but we have been working on supplies for a month or so now, and are doing our best to make sure we are stocked with all necessary items.”
As for ventilators, FCMH has two and is adapting six alternate machines to be used as ventilators — this includes two anesthesia machines.
As for available beds, Gentry explained the typical bed capacity includes 19 inpatient beds, six Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and 12 ED beds.
“Our surge plan includes using the surgery center and using the operating rooms for housing inpatient beds. Endoscopy, vascular and stress tests areas are also opportunities for semi-private rooms. In total, our plan shows the ability for us to have 58 spaces – including beds and emergency cots – in which to care for patients,” wrote Gentry.
As previously reported, the Fayette County EMA has an additional 60 cots available for use in case they are needed. The cots are being stored in easy access to FCMH.
When asked if there is an estimation of how many people can be handled with current supplies, Gentry explained that it is difficult to determine a specific number of people, since it is unknown what the extent of the pandemic will be locally.
“Some may need a nebulizer, some may need a vent. Each patient is going to have different needs, and ODH had different requirements on PPE usage,” explained Gentry. “We know what the projected surge numbers are for our county, and are doing everything in our power to make sure we have the supplies needed, and we know EMA and the other hospitals in our regional response plan will offer assistance to us if they are able.”
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.