As a health care leader I am frequently asked by friends and family if I know when the pandemic will be over, and when we can go “back to our normal lives.”
I wish I knew, but unfortunately there is no crystal ball to provide us with the answers. What I do know is that our definition of “normal” keeps changing and evolving. Back in April when we had intensive care units filled to capacity with COVID-19 patients, who could have imagined that we would be where we are today – in phase three of re-opening the state!
Here in north suburban Boston, many of us feel as though we have been through the worst of the pandemic. I certainly hope that is true, but as we have seen in other parts of the country, diligence in adhering to safety measures is the key to avoiding infection and staying healthy. As a region, our communities have made good choices and have taken the precautions seriously enough to bring our infection and hospitalization rates down significantly.
Until there is an effective vaccine, the best defense against COVID-19 is to follow the established protocols of keeping socially distanced by staying at least six feet away from each other, properly wearing a mask to cover both mouth and nose, and frequently and thoroughly washing or sanitizing our hands.
As a community health care provider, we take safety seriously. Throughout MelroseWakefield Healthcare – at our hospitals, physician offices and offsite locations – patients are returning for their medical care. Today, in mid-July, our daily census of COVID-19 inpatients is low – typically only two or three patients, and some days we have none. COVID-19 positive patients are being cared for in isolation units, and do not come in contact with other patients. Our emergency department has separate areas for patients suspected to have COVID-19 and those who are not. Each staff member, patient and visitor to our facilities is screened, given a mask and asked to sanitize their hands before they proceed into the buildings. Also, employees are screened daily, and all patients are tested prior to procedures and upon admission.
Our staff has appropriate levels of personal protective equipment and we are providing routine care safely. All of our offsite locations are open, and urgent care is available at our Lawrence Memorial Hospital location seven days a week from 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Our providers are also still offering telemedicine appointments, if preferred.
Still, some people are feeling apprehensive about entering hospitals and doctors’ offices these days. That is understandable, but those fears cannot be a reason to put off receiving treatment and important health screenings.
Back in March, one of our patients, Melissa, was also feeling anxious about an upcoming mammogram. Read her story about not delaying her care, and how that decision quite possibly saved her life.
We’re seeing Melissa’s story play out time and time again, with positive results. Unfortunately, we have also seen the more tragic results of those who decided to delay their care.
So please take a moment to call your physician’s office if you are due for a visit. They will ask you a few questions about your overall health. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you can also have your physician order a COVID-19 test for you.
When you arrive, you will be screened with similar questions, asked to sanitize your hands, and be given a mask to wear if you don’t have one. You will notice many precautions throughout the facilities – such as plexiglass barriers, floor decals indicating how far apart to stand, fewer and socially distanced chairs in waiting rooms. You will also notice more frequent facility cleaning protocols taking place. There is a reason why we are hearing from many other industries including airlines and hotels, who are talking about incorporating “hospital levels” of cleaning at their facilities. We have experts on hand who understand viruses and the chemicals used to eliminate them. Also, we were using HEPA filters for air filtration and ultraviolet light as part of our cleaning regime well before COVID-19 existed.
All of this work is being done to keep you safe and to give you the peace of mind to receive your care without worry. Be assured that you are #SafeWithUs! Please read more at melrosewakefield.org/safewithus.
Keep sending me feedback about this blog. I enjoy hearing your thoughts about our services and any future topics of interest or concern as they relate to great community healthcare. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and healthy,