Hospitals, care centers enact COVID-19 protocols

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Holland Hospital is requiring everyone in the hospital or an outpatient facility, including all patients, visitors, staff, physicians and contract employees, to wear a mask at all times in the building. Courtesy Bradley Gordon

Local hospitals and urgent care centers are among some of the national medical-based facilities trying to prevent patient surge due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

With the continuous changes that surround the virus, Holland Hospital, Metro Health and Pine Rest’s Psychiatric Urgent Care Center all have implemented new policies, procedures and services since the outbreak began, some of which follow the national guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Holland Hospital has a free COVID-19 screening hotline, (616) 394-2080, for anyone experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, fever, cough or shortness of breath. The hospital also is offering drive-thru testing by appointment only to those who have been screened through the hotline and referred for testing.

The hospital has also established a command center, which is staffed with 16 members, including executive leadership, chief of staff and department leaders.

According to Mark Pawlak, senior vice president for quality, IT and hospital operations at Holland Hospital, the leaders meet daily either over the phone or through a web conference to address the evolving situation, discuss best practices and evaluate the response plan to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and protect the patients, staff and community.

Holland Hospital also has created numerous sub-groups that focus on the protection of staff, patients, visitors, patient surge, medications, staffing, supplies, testing and communication.

To manage what could be a potential patient surge, the hospital has suspended nonessential services, including elective surgeries. The displaced nurses are trained to work in other medical areas such as the emergency department, intensive care units or assisting with the COVID-19 hotline and testing center.

Holland Hospital also is limiting services and hours at offsite locations.

To prevent a patient surge at Metro Health, officials there have established a COVID-19 self-assessment on the hospital’s website. Depending on the results, Jamie Allen, head of public relations and internal communications at Metro Health, said patients can either go to the emergency department, call their primary care doctor or schedule a virtual visit.

“Hospitals currently have a limited amount of testing supplies for COVID-19,” she said. “This is why there is no widespread testing at this time. Patients presenting respiratory illness or COVID-19 symptoms must meet specific criteria to be tested. For general hospital supplies and equipment — masks, for example — we have been following guidelines by the CDC to optimize their use and to conserve supplies. We are confident in our supplies for the short term. However, there is a national shortage of these supplies. Therefore, we are grateful for whatever our community is able to contribute, including unused/unopened personal protection equipment such as masks, goggles and bouffant caps. We’re also accepting donations of bleach wipes.”

Despite the limited amount of testing supplies and the constant evolution of the virus, Allen said they are fortunate that their infectious disease physicians and infection prevention specialists are constantly updating their knowledge.

“We also have the benefit of our affiliation with Michigan Medicine, world-renowned for medical research,” she said. “Our experts on staff have remained in contact with their colleagues around the country and even the world. As a physician-led medical organization, we value staying abreast of the latest developments and sharing those with our colleagues.”

Pine Rest’s Psychiatric Urgent Care Center opened last April to evaluate patients and serve those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse disorder, among other things.

Megan Zambiasi, director of clinical practice for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, said the organization has not seen an increase in the number of patients visiting the center but, instead, they are seeing some people who are experiencing more distress since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Zambiasi said in recent weeks they have created a screening protocol, which includes asking patients about their health and, like Holland Hospital and Metro Health, Pine Rest’s Psychiatric Urgent Care Center also does temperature checks of their patients.

At Holland Hospital, all staff are required to have their temperature checked twice daily when working, once when they enter the hospital and again when they leave.

“Medical personnel (are) checked for fever, shortness of breath and cough,” Pawlak said. “Our protocol requires all staff to have their temperature checked twice a day, and all staff (both on and off hospital campus) must wear a mask during their entire shift. If doctors and nurses have a fever, they are asked to go home and not return to work until healthy. If they are severe enough, they will be hospitalized and treated as a patient.”

The free COVID-19 screening hotline for Holland Hospital is (616) 394-2080 and is staffed from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. every day.

Supplies for Metro Health can be dropped off from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at System Services and Learning Center, 1980 Metro Court, Wyoming.

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