The past few months have been challenging for all our communities as we have learned to adjust to a heightened sense of health safety, cleanliness, and precautions. Communities are still working through what the new state of normal will be, and we at Atchison Hospital and Clinics are still maintaining a constant state of preparedness, remaining flexible with changing public health recommendations, and prioritizing the continuation of care. In order to create a balance of a safe care environment and an excellent patient experience, we have made some adjustments and additions to our patient and visitor protocols at Atchison Hospital and Clinics.
For months we have been requesting patients and visitors to wear masks and requiring employees to wear them as well. If a patient or visitor is not wearing a mask when entering the building, they will be provided one to wear. All patients will be given a sticker to wear while in the building to show that they were screened and were provided a mask to wear while in the building.
We know that the support of a family member or friend is an important part of patient care. We have closely monitored our patient volume over the past few months to determine the best balance of quality care in a safe environment for employees and patients. Beginning July 6th, we will allow one visitor per patient per visit, except for in the emergency room. Due to increasing patient volumes and the presence of COVID-19 community spread, no visitors will be allowed in our emergency room. Exceptions will be made in the ER for patients with diminished mental capacity or for minors, who may each have one caregiver or guardian during their visit.
Since mid-March, we have been screening all who enter our buildings to ensure the health and safety of our patients and employees. We will continue this entrance screening process for all patients and visitors. During screening, patients will answer symptom-related questions as well as address travel and COVID exposure concerns. All patients will be given a dated sticker to wear to show that they were screened.
Employees are not allowed to come to work if they have symptoms and every employee verifies that they are symptom-free at department sign-in stations each day.
Our existing staff have done an excellent job screening patients and visitors and helping them feel safe as they seek care. However, with more patients now returning to care, our existing staff are needed in their regular roles. Therefore, we have created a new position that includes entrance screening as a job responsibility. This will help ensure a consistent, safe environment for care for all our patients and employees.
Our hotlines help us care for those with COVID concerns without affecting the safe care environment of our facilities. Nurse hotlines are available for patients to call if they have COVID symptoms or exposure concerns, to help determine the next best step in care while protecting patients, visitors, and employees who are in our buildings. Patients may call our COVID hotline at 913-360-6700 on weekdays from 8am-4pm. Between the hours of 4-7pm on weekdays and on Saturday from 8-noon, they may call 913-367-6690. During all other times, patients may call 913-367-2131.
In order to protect the health and wellbeing of patients and employees, we continue to use well-patient areas in our primary care clinics to separate those with any symptoms of illness from those seeking routine or non-acute care. This is a common arrangement in pediatrics offices, and our primary care clinics will use these well-patient areas even after concerns of COVID have been minimized, to provide the best experience for all our patients going forward.
We will continue to limit entrances to the northwest entrance for those with well-patient appointments and the main entrance for all others, except those needing emergent care who will enter our emergency room doors. In addition, our surgery patients use a separate controlled entrance on their assigned surgery day. Although some of our exits will remain closed to help the flow of patients to the screened entrances, we have wheelchairs and friendly assistants available if the extra distance to an appointment location is taxing on a patient.
Welcoming Patients Back to Care
These past few months have been difficult and uncertain for everyone, and there is still a long road ahead as our communities find ways to reopen safely. We are thankful for the long period of preparation that our teams have had to prepare processes to care for all patients in a safe manner as reopening continues.
It is a welcome sight to see our halls becoming full again and to hear the cheerful greetings from patients we have all missed seeing. Our employees are excited to finally be back to doing what they love, taking care of patients. We are incredibly thankful for the overwhelming support from our communities during the past few months, and though life will likely never be “back to normal”, as a community and as an organization we have grown stronger, together, even while apart.
Media contact: Elizabeth Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org | 913-360-5577