By Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, CEO/CNO for Transylvania Regional Hospital
As we enter May, we look forward to celebrating both National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and National Hospital Week (May 10-16), perfect opportunities to express thanks for our incredible nursing and staff teams at Transylvania Regional Hospital (TRH). This year is very different, however, as we all know- the arrival of COVID-19 has changed life forever.
We’ve all learned how to socially distance, transform our dining room tables into makeshift classrooms and offices, and navigate wearing masks to the grocery store. At the hospital, I’ve seen our exceptional caregivers and staff members shift the way they do virtually everything at a moment’s notice. It reminds me of something I’ve seen time and time again: During the worst of times is when our team truly shines.
In a matter of weeks, days – and sometimes mere hours – TRH’s leadership team pulled together and was quite creative in meeting the goal of ensuring that our facility and our care practices were redesigned to align with best practices and protocols as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which every HCA Healthcare facility is also following.
Our nurses and staff have done an amazing job of quickly acclimating to these ever-evolving requirements. Our Environmental Services staff members have accelerated and refined their sanitization process, and our nursing staff, providers, and other caregivers have not allowed the new restrictions to compromise the care they provide to our patients in any way. Every staff member here has personified resilience, supported each other, and calmed our patients as everyone navigates these many changes.
It’s important that our community know what we’re doing at TRH to ensure everyone’s safety. All who enter the hospital — employees and patients alike — are screened and admitted only after a negative screen. Screening includes answering a series of questions about symptoms that are associated with COVID-19, including whether they have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and if they’ve traveled to any COVID hotspots. In addition, employees are getting their temperatures taken with an infrared forehead thermometer. If anyone has a temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees, they’re put in touch with the Mission Virtual Clinic immediately. Our screeners are at all points of entry here at TRH, which have been limited to just three.
We are also at a Level 3 visitor restriction level; no visitors are being admitted to the hospital, for everyone’s safety, except for one parent with pediatric patients. All individuals in the hospital must wear masks as well.
During the first week of May, we will begin to once again perform elective surgeries and radiology studies. For these surgeries and studies, we will be allowing one person in the waiting area. The waiting area has been configured to maintain social distancing.
Currently, if anyone experiences mild symptoms of the virus, we advise that they quarantine at home and consult with their physician via telehealth appointment. Only if symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing or high fever, should a patient come to our Emergency Department.
Being part of HCA Healthcare has ensured our staff has all the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to keep their colleagues, loved ones, and patients safe. In fact, staff caring for suspected COVID and COVID patients wear hospital scrubs, which are left at the hospital for laundering. We take our responsibility to be mindful stewards of PPE supplies seriously, too.
Our invested teams in every department have made us prepared with master plans for any patient surge that might occur as a result of COVID-19. Know that we are ready for any eventuality, from no change at all to a surge. Our stellar staff reminds me every day that their motivation is fueled by one thing: utter devotion to their patients.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Ms. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a Board-Certified Nursing Executive.