Matters of the Heart

We are proud of our heroic caregivers, both clinical and non-clinical who are working together in service to our patients and community. The health and safety of every
member of our team is very important to us. Our hospital is closely following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Texas Department for State Health Services guidance and updating our practices as new recommendations are issued. We are fortunate to have a strong working relationship with our local health department and have remained in close contact throughout the community's response to this outbreak. As COVID-19 cases have increased in our community, a number of our employees have tested positive for the virus. Nine have recovered and returned to work while others continue to self-isolate at home. Four are receiving care in our hospital. Contact tracing determined the initial infection happened when staff members provided care for an asymptomatic patient who had no symptoms or risk factors for COVID-19. Employees who were exposed were still working closely with others on the team until they began developing symptoms. For more than a month, we’ve been proactively implementing actions to limit the spread of the virus within the hospital for the protection of patients and staff. These include:
· In early March, we began screening all patients for COVID-19 risk factors and symptoms and holding in-service trainings to reinforce the proper use of personal protective equipment in accordance with CDC guidance. · Patients with the symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19 are placed in an isolation room away from other patients, and given a medical mask to wear.
· Patients admitted to the hospital who test positive for COVID-19 have been and continue to be cohorted in two dedicated units with care provided by designated team members who do not care for non-COVID patients during that shift. · We began restricting entry points and limiting visitation on March 13. As of March 25, a no visitor policy was implemented.

· Beginning March 18, we initiated an employee attestation process in which employees confirmed they had no COVID-19 symptoms at the beginning of each shift; any employees who begin exhibiting symptoms mid-shift alert their supervisor immediately.

  • ·  In late March, universal masking was put in place for patients and staff.
  • ·  An enhanced employee screening process with temperature checks as well as drive-up testing location for staff were established on April 6.

Since the beginning of March, hospital leadership has been communicating regularly and transparently with our employees about our preparedness efforts, steps being taken for staff and patient safety, and the number of patients and staff members who have tested

positive.

Due to the nature of this virus, it could be contracted anywhere and people can shed the virus before they are exhibiting visible symptoms. We cannot stress enough how important it is to observe stay-at-home orders, practice social distancing and engage in good hygiene practices known to stem the spread of infection: washing your hands, covering your cough/sneeze, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, frequently cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and surfaces and staying home when you are sick with respiratory symptoms, except to get medical

care. We continue to take proactive steps to protect our patients, caregivers and the community.