A message from our CEO in response to COVID-19 4/3/20
I wanted to take a moment to update the community regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, I want to say thank you to all the BCHC associates and their family members. Whether they are working longer hours, working in higher risk environments or doing jobs they never expected they may do, I am proud of the work our associates have done and the clear dedication to serving our communities in this time of need. We continue to brace ourselves here for the predicted peak in mid to late April for COVID-19 cases and expect that we will be seeing COVID patients on an ongoing basis moving forward. Our COVID call center has been up and in operation for almost two weeks to appropriately triage patients with respiratory or COVID symptoms to ensure they are not exposing any other community members if they are more appropriate to stay home or be seen in our outdoor testing site. We also have opened our respiratory clinic this past Monday to be able to centralize our care for all patients who are experiencing respiratory/COVID symptoms. We have established workflows in the respiratory clinic to ensure appropriate appointment spacing between patients, and have established negative air flow into the exam rooms to ensure we are not transmitting anything from patient to patient between visits. This clinic also helps to keep suspected COVID positive patients out of our primary care clinics, which reduces unnecessary exposure to patients who still need to receive services in primary care.
Regarding primary care, our offices in Independence, Jesup, and Oelwein have begun utilizing phone visits to connect with patients and are beginning to trial telehealth (audio/visual connection) to continue to serve patients without having them physically come to the clinic. We will be continuing to see patients in the office where the benefits are significant to receive in-person care. This will be at the discretion of the primary care provider and the patient.
We are currently in the process of establishing our plans in the unfortunate event that we have many COVID positive patients who need to seek emergency services and need hospitalization at once when the peak hits. As always, we plan for the worst, but still hope for the best. BCHC is also establishing a new nursing triage process in our emergency vestibule, located on the northeast side of our campus to ensure we are safely triaging patients from the time they enter our doorway. These nurses will determine if patients are appropriate for our respiratory clinic, emergency department, outdoor testing, or isolation at home. All emergency room patients should report to this door. All other non-emergency patients should report to the main door, located on the south side of our campus.
We are working hard to be here for you. Our ask for all of you is that you help the broader picture by staying at home as often as possible and ensuring you are calling prior to arriving at our organization if you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms or have COVID concerns. Our COVID call center is here for that purpose from 8A to 8P 7 days per week staffed with nurses and a nurse practitioner. The number for that is 319-332-0894. If calling outside of those hours, please call the emergency department prior to your arrival at 319-332-0999
We know the toll this has taken on all our communities; socially, economically, physically and psychologically. We are here for you, and we are all in this together.
-Steve Slessor, CEO