INFECTION CONTROL AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS ARE WORKING –
PATIENT VISITS STEADY
(April 21, 2020) – In a season of hope, Comanche County Medical Center leadership and staff are taking stock of the success of the organizations’ COVID-19 infection control and response plans and actions, and looking forward to returning to “new normal” operations in the coming weeks.
Since January, CCMC infection control and emergency response teams have worked thousands of hours to ensure the hospital, clinics, pharmacy, and all departments and affiliated sites have what they need to respond to the pandemic. Staff across the organization have worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and local public health authorities, Comanche County Office of the Judge and Emergency Operations Management teams, to ensure an effective response and mitigation of virus spread.
Building on its standing emergency preparedness plan and on the strength of its management of operations and cross-functional teamwork, CCMC rapidly put into place specific COVID-19 infection prevention and safety protocols, and patient care processes. All nursing staff were provided new education and training on critical care protocols for PPE, EKG, IV, intubation and off-site nursing operations. CCMC established the COVID-19 Screening Hotline 254-879-4999 as a patient-centered call site through which area residents with coronavirus exposure concerns and/or non-emergency respiratory symptoms call and are initially triaged by telephone. The hotline receives nearly 50 calls per week; callers are triaged based on degree of illness, and given tele-support and specific guidance on what to do next. Medical providers and staff at Doctors Medical Center conduct follow-up virtual or face-to-face appointments to ensure every patient receives the care they need.
CCMC also implemented a telehealth program to provide patients with care and services. The program uses communication applications (“apps”) downloaded on a patient’s computer or mobile device. The apps, such as Skype, Facetime and Zoom, easily connect a patient with their provider. The service, which is expected to grow substantially in the coming months, increases patient access to needed care and supports them in managing their health.
Additionally important has been the vigilance of CCMC department managers who carefully monitor all resources needed for the pandemic response. Ongoing controls have included equipment and supplies usage monitoring, enhanced order purchasing, and ensuring all additional needed resources are in the supply pipeline.
Of great importance in the response process are the extreme cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization steps that are being taken, in the hospital wings, ER, Med-Surg, medical clinics, pharmacy, digital imaging and in every other department and affiliated site to protect patients and health workers from acquiring any infection. CCMC already had a best practice cleaning and maintenance system in place, safeguards against the coronavirus are at the highest level.
Dr. L. G. Troxell, CCMC Chief Executive Officer, sees the realization of CCMC’s vision statement, “We are working round the clock, providing caring, efficient and responsive service, and addressing the ever-changing health care needs of the people we serve. I couldn’t be more proud of our staff who are answering the call to serve across departments and across the system.”
With case counts remaining low in the County, and no COVID-19 patients in the CCMC hospital, Dr. Troxell and the entire CCMC staff are breathing a collective sigh of relief while acknowledging Texas and the nation are not yet over the hump of the flattening curve. They are looking forward to the promise of antibody testing, which the hospital plans to conduct, a vaccine, and a diminishment of community spread.