Our Recovery Begins With COVID-SAFE Facilities
BY BRIAN NESTER, DO, MBA, FACOEP, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LEHIGH VALLEY HEALTH NETWORK
Over the past eight weeks, LVHN acted as the trusted partner people have come to expect, putting the safety of colleagues and patients first. Now, with COVID-19, our commitment to safety is more evident than ever.
At the onset of COVID-19, we immediately set up Assess and Test locations, providing one-sixth of all testing in Pennsylvania. We elevated our role as a digital health care leader by greatly enhancing our capacity to provide virtual care to intentionally reduce face-to-face encounters and keep people safe.
While we will still be living with COVID-19 for many months ahead, there is some good news. Our community’s efforts to socially distance have worked. The COVID-19 caseload in our hospitals has plateaued, and the rate of growth of new cases in the community is declining. Now it’s time to reopen our services and get back to providing the services people need. As we recover, it is imperative that we continue to provide COVID-SAFE care in every location where we see patients.
Because we’ve taken unprecedented, forward-thinking action, I am pleased to announce that in the last two days we started reopening the region’s only COVID-FREE hospitals for elective surgery.
A COVID-FREE facility is a hospital that has been quarantined throughout the pandemic – a stand-alone building that has never seen a COVID-19 case and is physically separated from those that care for patients with COVID-19. We have kept these facilities free from COVID-19 and will do everything we can to make certain they stay that way. We have three such hospitals opening for elective surgeries that patients have been waiting patiently to receive:
The three COVID-FREE hospitals are:
LVH–Tilghman, 4815 Tilghman St., Allentown (Opened today)
Coordinated Health Allentown–1503 N. Cedar Crest Blvd. (Opened April 30)
Coordinated Health Bethlehem–2310 Highland Ave. (Opening May 11)
These facilities are the only hospitals in the entire region that can unequivocally state that they’ve been maintained as completely Non-COVID Care (NCC) facilities. As per the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an NCC facility is one that provides care only for conditions other than COVID-19.
Stringent safety protocols will ensure these facilities remain as free as possible from COVID-19. Interestingly, these protocols will make the patient experience more streamlined than ever before.
We will implement these steps to maintain or exceed Non-COVID Care standards:
Open a separate test center for health care providers and pre-op patients
Screen all colleagues for COVID-19 infection every day and perform COVID-19 tests with front-line colleagues regularly
Screen surgery and procedure patients for COVID-19 infection and, when warranted, test certain patients who may be at risk for COVID-19 infection
Plan surgery times that stagger patient arrival, helping to ensure social distancing
Strongly encourage use of the EASE app at LVH–Tilghman so family members can stay informed about their loved one while not remaining in the hospital during a surgery or procedure
Reinvent check-in and waiting room protocols to ensure people complete pre-surgery assessments, registration and check-in virtually
Activate frequent cleaning and disinfection protocols to ensure the NCC surgery facilities remain as free of the COVID-19 virus as possible
LVHN has a legacy of providing safe care. With “Non-COVID Care Zones” in all our hospitals and our unwavering commitment to deliver safety in remarkably new ways, you have shown that LVHN stands ready to provide safe care for everyone. I have personally visited all of our ICUs, emergency departments and COVID-19 units to thank our fabulous care teams and to see our safety procedures in practice. I’ve been able to do this safely because of the safe and innovative procedures you rigorously adhere to. People can feel confident that our team is here to provide safe access for every member of the family, whether it’s in the hospital or the office setting.
Today, 50 LVPG practices reopened, with other ambulatory services reopening next week to help patients who have paused their care. Thanks to the advanced virtual care options we have in place, we can now commit to same-day appointments. In our practices and ambulatory settings, we’re leveraging the capabilities of MyLVHN to provide virtual care and lessen face-to-face interactions. We are staggering patient arrival times to promote social distancing. We revamped the patient check-in and office experience and are providing visual cues that remind people they are receiving COVID-SAFE care at LVHN.
More than ever, people need a health care partner they can depend on. We must demonstrate and instill confidence that we remain committed to providing the highest level of safety. All of us play a key role. Whether at our three COVID-FREE surgical hospitals or at our other hospital locations and physician practices, we must actively show our patients that LVHN is providing a COVID- SAFE patient experience everywhere. You and your colleagues will work together with leadership to identify and implement processes that help to ensure we achieve COVID-SAFE patient care throughout the health network.
I want to personally thank you for your commitment to providing safe and innovative care, as well as for persevering through the pandemic. I know this has been a challenging time for all of us. What I also know is that by working together, LVHN will emerge from this stronger, and will continue to be the trusted health care partner our community needs, expects and deserves.
For ongoing updates about all LVHN is doing to keep colleagues and patients COVID SAFE, visit LVHN.org/COVIDSAFE.
Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses, three in Allentown, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; Coordinated Health, which includes two hospital campuses, nearly two dozen multispecialty locations including ambulatory surgery centers and orthopedic injury centers in northeastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey; 26 health centers; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices; 22 ExpressCARE including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE; pharmacy, imaging, home health, rehabilitation, and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes trauma care for adults and children, burn care at the Regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer, orthopedics, neurology, complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and robotic surgery in 10 specialties. Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, Lehigh Valley Heart Institute, and Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence physicians provide the most advanced treatments. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, an initiative that helps community providers improve the quality of cancer care and offers access to MSK clinical trials. Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the community’s only children’s hospital, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is the region’s only hospital nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for orthopedics and has been recognized among Pennsylvania’s top five hospitals for six consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are the region’s only Magnet® hospitals for nursing excellence. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.