Though the COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on hospitals in South Florida, doctors and administrators say they are doing their best to encourage patients to return and get the care they need.
David Donaldson, the CEO of Mercy Hospital, said that the facility is being transparent with patients about policies for keeping them safe.
“We are encouraging our patients to return by informing and educating them on the ways in which Mercy Hospital is enabling access to the care they need while keeping them safe,” he said.
Mr. Donaldson also said some people are suffering as a result of putting off visits.
“We have found that patients that have been avoiding the hospital due to COVID-19 are now coming in sicker as a result,” he said.
Worsening conditions are not the only reason to visit. Giorgio Tarchini, an infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer at Westside Regional Medical Center, said delaying hospital visits takes away the chances of patients receiving an early diagnosis for certain ailments.
“It is extremely important not to delay coming to the emergency room if patients are experiencing any concerning symptoms, as early diagnosis and treatment can save lives,” he said.
Dr. Tarchini also said that patients can help hospitals as well as stay safe by taking precautions during their visit.
“Patients should continue to adhere to CDC guidelines and follow staff’s recommendations during their stay, to help us in these efforts of keeping everyone safe,” he said.
Mr. Donaldson said Mercy has been working on ways to make it even safer for patients to visit.
“Mercy Hospital is currently in the process of further enhancing our screening process with automated, no-contact temperature screening kiosks,” he said. “At the kiosk, visitors will have their temperature taken along with their photo. Visitor badges will be printed directly from the machine as well, making our entry experience completely seamless and contactless.”
Throughout the year, many hospitals have been dealing with losses of both patients and employees. However, Mr. Donaldson said that it has been a priority for Mercy Hospital to keep everyone employed while making it as safe as possible for patients to receive care.
“Mercy Hospital and its parent company, HCA Healthcare, addressed the pandemic with two clear objectives: keep our people safe and keep them employed,” he said. “Early in the pandemic, the decision was made not to lay off or furlough any full- or part-time colleagues, and we are proud that we were able to deliver on that promise. When elective procedures were halted in March/April we did experience a significant decline in patient volume. By taking a fiscally responsible approach to our operations, we were able to preserve jobs while continuing to provide the best patient care possible.”