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When Faced With a Pandemic SVMC’s Med/Surg Team Knows a Thing or Two About Transformations and New Processes

In dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC) has created and re-arranged many processes to keep up with the evolving CDC guidelines regarding patient care and has adequately prepared for a surge in COVID-19 cases. For the Medical-Surgical Department, preparing ahead was vital in this fast-changing situation.

In preparation and well before the first positive COVID-19 in-patient was being treated at SVMC, an area that was previously closed was re-opened to care for all exposed or positive COVID-19 Medical Surgical and Telemetry level patients. Following CDC guidelines, this area was properly equipped and transformed into a holding unit.

In addition, an early-on implementation that was crucial in keeping patients and staff safe from exposure to the virus was creating a new transport process to move patients from one area of the hospital to another. Brandy Irwin, MSN, RNC, PHN, Director of Acute Care and Nursing Excellence, explains that security temporarily shuts down all elevators and clears hallways to quickly move patients who may be positive or confirmed COVID-19 positive.

“This new transition process successfully gets patients to their destination and reduces any chance of exposure,” said Brandy. “If a patient needs to be transferred from the Emergency Department, they normally would be waiting for the elevator near the lobby, but with the new process, the elevator is waiting for them, making the transfer seamless.”

“Security shuts down the elevators so that one specific elevator is waiting for the patient; hallways and all other areas within the route are cleared; and staff who are transferring the patient can get on the elevator and up to the room directly with no delay time,” Brandy further explains.

To prepare the Med/Surg team, staff has been equipped with access to written and electronic education resources available at all the nurse’s stations for any questions that may arise. In addition, SVMC has developed an education process to keep nurses up-to-date on all CDC guideline changes. Nurses are also equipped with all personal protective equipment (PPE) the CDC recommends and staff is fully trained in proper installation of PPE. To further ensure that Med/Surg staff is not affected by the virus, they and all SVMC employees, are required to take their temperatures daily before beginning their shifts.

“With all the new challenges and changes of COVID-19, the teamwork between the staff has been outstanding,” Brandy says. “As a unit, we are constantly looking ahead and trying to predict what the worst case scenarios would be to be prepared. The unity of the staff and community coming together to support the changes and each other has been a positive light for me. I feel blessed to work with the unit I am on and with the community, in which I am a part of.”

CDC guidelines regarding patient care, PPE, and COVID-19 management are changing rapidly and has had an impact on all departments including Med/Surg. SVMC as a whole, continues working together to provide the community with high-quality care, right here in Porterville.