Maintaining Your Health, Ensuring Your Safety

May 13, 2020

By Geoff Lifferth, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Sumner Regional Medical Center

As healthcare providers, patient wellbeing is our chief concern every day of the year.  Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, part of how we kept our community safe was limiting elective and non-urgent procedures at Sumner Regional Medical Center. 

Currently, the threat of COVID-19 in our community seems to be under control, allowing our community to start re-opening and Sumner Regional to begin gradually resuming these procedures.

For some, this change is a welcome return to maintaining personal health and addressing medical issues. For others, this news may cause anxiety about safety.  I’d like to address these concerns with the hope of relieving fears that might make people overly cautious about seeking care and treatment.

Expanding care – cautiously

Maintaining patient health is vital – but healthcare should never come at the cost of safety.  At Sumner Regional, you don’t have to decide between health and safety.  Rest assured that we would not have resumed elective and non-urgent procedures if we didn’t have the resources and processes in place to do so safely.  You can rely on your medical team to keep you protected while addressing your medical needs. 

Throughout the pandemic, we have been focused on conserving key resources – including personal protective equipment (PPE), beds for patients and other critical supplies. Due to our teams’ stewardship, we have adequate supplies to begin resuming certain elective procedures. 

Maintaining a safe environment for all

Keeping our facilities sanitary and disinfected has always been a top priority. Now more than ever, cleanliness is imperative as we fight against infectious diseases such as COVID-19. 

In addition to heightened infection prevention protocols, our environmental services team continues to implement effective cleaning and disinfecting practices throughout our hospital. When you enter our facilities, be assured that great intention has gone into maintaining cleanliness. All of our suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients are in an isolated area of the hospital that features a negative-pressure air unit. This keeps these patient areas completely isolated from all other areas of the hospital, including our outpatient surgery and imaging areas.

Enhancing safety with new protocols

As we broaden our services, things look a little different than before COVID-19. For instance, patients won’t see much of our faces due to the masks and PPE our medical staffers are wearing. While this is not ideal because connecting with our patients encourages us all, such protection is essential to keeping our patients and staff alike safe. Underneath the masks, know that there are healthcare workers who care very much about your health and wellbeing. 

Along with having proper PPE, staff members are being screened daily for the virus.  Patients are being screened as they enter our facilities as well, and those who haven’t brought their own masks are being issued cloth ones to wear. 

We also are taking steps to limit the number of people in our facility. Out of an abundance of caution, we are maintaining our strict no-visitor policy. Additionally, we are limiting patient volume for elective and non-urgent procedures, assessing the situation on a week-by-week basis. 

Monitoring the situation

Ultimately, I want to reassure you that Sumner Regional is constantly assessing where we are on COVID-19 and making decisions based on the most current data available. While we are confident that we have the resources and capabilities to expand services safely at this time, if at any point we determine that is no longer the case, we will immediately reverse course.

This pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us. As your local ally in healthcare, we are always seeking ways to best serve our community. In doing so, we are balancing two essential priorities: meeting the medical needs of our neighbors and mitigating the threat this virus poses.