Parrish Medical Center Officials Warn Against Delaying Care During Pandemic
Parrish Medical Center (PMC) officials warn against delaying care during
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the country there are indications that people are foregoing needed
treatment, sometimes in emergencies, either because they fear contracting
coronavirus or from a desire to free-up emergency department staff to
help COVID-19 patients.
People in non-COVID-19 medical distress are placing themselves in danger
by delaying seeking care, particularly if they have chronic health conditions
such as heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), and other conditions. They might even forego calling 911,
or miss obtaining needed medicines.
The community needs to feel a sense of confidence about the safety of their
hospitals and health care providers, said George Mikitarian, president
and CEO, Parrish Medical Center | Parrish Healthcare.
“People want to know that hospitals and emergency departments are
safe and are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of infectious
diseases,”- he said “PMC has earned national and international
recognition for its patient safety leadership, and for having an impeccable
infection prevention record,” Mikitarian said. “In the war
against COVID, we have fortified our arsenal of infection prevention protocols.
For example, he said, one aspect of PMC’s infection prevention track
record is particularly relevant during the pandemic.
“We’ve had zero ventilator-associated pneumonia cases in more
than 12 years,” he said. “Given the emphasis on ventilator
use to treat COVID-19, that’s a critical element in patient outcomes.”
According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health1, “Given the considerable adverse consequences associated with this
infection, VAP prevention became a core measure required in most US hospitals.”
The head of PMC’s emergency department said the hospital prepared
early for the pandemic, and that people, particularly those with chronic
conditions, shouldn’t be hesitant to seek care regardless of the reason.
“Even before COVID-19 became a pandemic, our hospital leadership
anticipated what was coming and knew that people would be concerned or
frightened about the unknowns concerning COVID-19,” said Michele
Fackler, the hospital’s director of emergency and critical care services.
“To ensure patient safety and confidence, leadership said we would
put a COVID-19 emphasis on three elements: infection prevention, isolation,
Generally, infection prevention requires that people entering the ED, and
care partners working there, follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
guidelines for handwashing, masking, sanitizing the facility, wearing
gloves, and more.
Everyone entering the ED is given careful instruction on procedures to
keep them safe while in PMC’s care, Fackler said. Patients presenting
with any COVID-19-like symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever) are
isolated from others.
“As always in the ED, life-threatening situations are attended to
first,” she said.
Everyone arriving at the hospital ED, on their own, or via EMS, is screened
and provided with personal protective equipment (PPE). Facemasks are among
the PPE, and ED doctors, nurses, and team are wearing masks at all times.
“Per CDC guidelines, the ED team is wearing complete PPE for any
situation in which patients can emit particles into the air, either by
coughing, sneezing, or even talking,” Fackler said. “Using
the right PPE at the right time helps to ensure that patients and our
team are safe.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, our teams have had ample PPE,
including N95 masks, and have never had to re-use equipment, which is
important to keeping our care partners safe. It’s a testament to
the foresight and preplanning efforts of everyone.”
Teamwork with first responders has been a significant asset, she said.
“We’re helped by our great local Emergency Medical Services
units, which give us infection surveillance alerts before they arrive
with potential COVID-19 patients so we know ahead of time to put those
patients in an isolation room,” Fackler said.
PMC communications, internally and externally, have been instrumental in
the campaign against COVID-19, she added.
“PMC was the first hospital in Brevard County to have an online COVID-19
risk assessment tool, accessible to everyone,” Fackler said. “That
helped people to identify if they were at-risk, and for PMC care navigators
to follow up with those who appeared to be at high levels of showing COVID-19
Fackler said, like everyone else, she hopes there is no second-wave coming
of COVID-19. “However,” she said, “If it should happen,
1 Is Zero Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia Achievable?: Practical Approaches
to Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia Prevention.
Vazquez Guillamet C1,
Kollef MH2. US Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health