LMH Health prepared for COVID-19 patient influx
Jessica Brewer, LMH Health
Presumably, most, if not all, reading this article have heard of and seen “the curve,” a depiction of the predicted surge of COVID-19 cases. It can look scary, daunting and is the root cause of the self-quarantine requirements.
Traci Hoopingarner, vice president of clinical care and chief nursing officer for LMH Health, said LMH Health has been working to best prepare for the tip of the curve. LMH Health is working closely with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health to ensure they are prepared in all possible ways.
“The preparation we have done is to protect the health of our community members, patients and staff,” she said. “Our direct goals during this COVID-19 pandemic are to have an adequate amount of patient rooms, equipment and supplies, as well as implement a patient flow that keeps our patients and staff safe at all times.”
Hoopingarner said LMH Health strives to make these goals reality by:
Preventing the further spread of COVID-19
LMH Health has taken measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by asking patients to call their provider before coming to the hospital, and then screening and isolating patients appropriately upon arrival. We also have implemented a hotline at 785-505-2819 to help discuss symptoms and whether you should make your way to the emergency department or self-isolate at home.
Visitor restrictions have been implemented to protect patients and staff and prevent the spread of the virus within the hospital. We are screening everyone entering the hospital through designated entrances, including all staff, patients and visitors.
Safety measures at LMH Health
LMH Health has taken steps so if staff cares for a patient with COVID-19, they are fully prepared.
“We are closely monitoring supplies and equipment and have temporarily stopped performing elective surgeries and procedures to preserve all supplies and equipment for crucial needs,” Hoopingarner said, “We are monitoring and adjusting this day-to-day to provide for each day’s individual needs.”
LMH Health has multiple rooms that are considered a negative pressure room. This means that the air flowing in that room is circulated back into the same room to protect other patients and staff.
“With the closure of the post-surgical unit, 3 West, we have made each of these rooms available and converted them all to negative pressure rooms,” Hoopingarner said. “Not only have we done this on 3 West, but we have extended this to our ICU/2 East unit, making all of those rooms negative pressure as well.”
LMH Health is licensed for 174 admitted patients. During a pandemic, LMH Health is able to extend capacity to allow for the projected influx without formal authority.
“At any given time we have upwards of 100 patients,” Hoopingarner said. “To allow for the projected influx of patients, we have expanded our patient capacity to 205 patients by adding three overflow areas. Additionally, we have noted areas for even more expansion off-campus if needed.”
Hoopingarner noted that with the temporary closing of some patient care units to dedicate the space for potential COVID-19 cases, they have designated staff to COVID-19 relief efforts.
“We are actively cross-training staff so additional staff dedicated to COVID-19 patients are fully prepared and educated on the virus, how to care for virus patients and continue the hospital’s initiatives,” she said. “Many LMH Health physicians have graciously stepped up to provide their services during this patient surge and be trained as well to learn to provide care in this new role.
“Each clinic, practice and team member at LMH Health have come together to create a diverse team of people, working together as one to generate new ideas and implement those ideas for a better workflow,” said Hoopingarner.
Utilizing the expertise
“We are confident that the team and staff at LMH Health are ready to take this challenge on. Internally, we have activated incident command which consists of experts in our specialties who work to plan and prepare for this situation which is changing daily and sometimes hourly,” she explained. This team meets twice a day and on weekends to ensure that ideas and updates are flowing constantly.
LMH Health has three board-certified infectious diseases physicians on staff who have served as leaders throughout the COVID-19 process and continue to be a vital part of the inpatient care team and all new developments.
Lawrence and surrounding communities are not alone in these efforts, just as LMH Health is not alone in efforts to combat this virus.
“We are working with each of our partners for the good of our community and theirs,” Hoopingarner said. “LMH Health is in constant communication with area hospitals to talk about collaboration and working together.
“We as a community are in this together to protect the health and safety of all. Thank you for doing your part to keep your friends, loved ones, neighbors and healthcare providers safe during this time.”
Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.