The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare

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Having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) has been a major issue during the pandemic. “We’ve taken precautions inside of work and outside of work,” Redell said. “When we’re working, everybody that’s working is wearing a mask throughout their whole shift, and also whenever we go out into the public, like if we have to go to a grocery store or a gas station or anywhere that’s not our house, we’re wearing masks then as well.”

As the world struggles against COVID-19, significant changes have been made in hospitals and healthcare centers everywhere. Local healthcare workers are working to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“We don’t allow any visitors now, which is unfortunate for the patients…” ICU charge nurse Brian Ameiss said. “Our census is down, it’s low, because we’re not doing a lot of elective surgeries and that kind of stuff. Only [emergency] type stuff is being done and then we don’t seem to be seeing a lot of patients coming in right now because those that just came in to the ER to use it like a doctor’s office are afraid to come in now, so maybe that’s a good thing.” 

Adjustments have been made in other medical facilities besides hospitals, such as skilled nursing facilities.

“We are screened every time we come into the facility. We have to fill out a paper, we have to take our temperature, we have to sanitize all of our belongings that we are bringing into the building,” physical therapist Lindsay Arnette said. “There’s been no visitors allowed now for a couple months. All the staff have to wear face masks. It’s a requirement. All the residents that live there have to remain within their rooms, or if they are out in the social areas they have to be six feet apart from each other… [There’s] lots of infection control.”

Contactless treatment has also been on the rise in an effort to better protect patients.

“We’re not allowing anybody into the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions,” pharmacy manager Samantha Redell said. “What we’re doing is whenever the patient comes to pick up their medication they call us from the parking lot, and then we counsel them on their medications and take any form of payment over the phone, and then we bring the medication directly out to their car. If people are having to come into the center to see the practitioners, they have to have their temperature taken and answer a series of questions before they’re allowed in. They’re also doing the majority of their doctor visits by video chat.”

Front-line emergency medical technicians have made adjustments, too.

“We wear a mask, goggles, and gloves on every call no matter what and we’re sending one person in to evaluate the situation before we send [everyone in],” paramedic firefighter Grant Aholt said. “Six people go on calls, so we send one person in to evaluate the situation and if it’s an exposed case or someone with COVID-19, either that one person will run the whole call or they send one other guy to assist them.”

Although there have been difficulties with implementing new protocols and restrictions, healthcare workers are doing the best they can. 

“I think the biggest struggle is the reaction from the residents living there,” Arnette said. “It’s difficult because trying to explain to somebody why they have to stay in their room, who has dementia, is very difficult. Sometimes just explaining the whole situation to patients, why we’re wearing face masks, why their family hasn’t been able to visit for two months, that kind of thing, [is tough]. I think the hardest part is keeping the residents under control and happy. Other than that, the rest of it’s been okay, I think, for now. We do what we have to.”