KIRKLAND, Wash. — Hospitals around the country have enhanced safety protocols to allow patients to be seen for both acute and elective procedures -- while also preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“Here at EvergreenHealth, we have really focused, both pre- and post-COVID surges, to make sure we’re enhancing the safety of our patients at any time in their stay here in the hospital,” said Dr. Ettore Palazzo, EvergreenHealth Chief Medical and Quality Officer.
EvergreenHealth has set up appropriate social distancing and has a universal mask policy. Since April, all patients are tested for COVID-19 before any procedures. There is also a restricted visitor policy based on the needs of the patient to minimize risks to both patients and staff.
Because of the new protocols, it is now safe for patients to have elective surgeries, “We are seeing folks come back, and we’re very pleased about that,” Dr. Palazzo said. “I think there’s more to go, though, with an understanding that it is safe to be here.”
Dr. Palazzo says if you are experiencing symptoms that may suggest something more serious, like chest pain, shortness of breath or severe headaches, it is necessary and safe to be seen by a healthcare provider. Rather than waiting to see if symptoms can successfully be managed at home, it’s important to ensure the problem isn’t more serious.
Telehealth visits are also being used often for initial assessments and less serious concerns, “In many ways, we were moving towards more of a telehealth option for our patients and the COVID situation really moved us quicker in that direction,” Dr. Palazzo said.
Comprehensive examinations cannot take place during a virtual visit but initial questions can be asked to determine next steps. Telehealth visits are being covered by most insurances.
Many healthcare providers and staff members have had to adapt to enhanced safety protocols and new ways to reach patients during this unprecedented time: “It has been absolutely humbling to watch the staff come together to make this happen,” Dr. Palazzo said.
For more information on how EvergreenHealth is adapting to COVID-19, visit the Resource Hub on their website.