By now you know Michigan’s stay-at-home order has lifted, along with the reopening of restaurants, outdoor pools and sports, and the ability for larger gatherings starting next week. This is great news for all of us who are anxious to enjoy these days of summer.
For those of us in health care, the news comes with a healthy dose of concern for a possible resurgence of coronavirus. As our state re-opens at a safe pace, I want to provide you with an update on our journey forward.
Ready for a second surge
When the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Michigan, we answered the call and faced the greatest health care crisis of our lifetime. At times, we feared our hospitals would be overwhelmed, but we persevered and redirected resources to care for patients and protect our colleagues and communities.
This pandemic has presented many challenges, demanding unique and difficult decisions to slow the alarming spread of COVID-19. We weathered the first surge when it peaked in mid-April and have since seen hospitalizations decrease to their lowest level across Michigan.
Our preparedness is an important early victory for the state and a major reason why Michigan is beginning to re-open businesses and allow activities to occur in phases. While we hope it doesn’t happen, we do have the capacity, supplies and safety protocols in place to absorb a rise in acutely ill COVID-19 patients.
Keeping our guard up
With declining cases, the worst thing we can do is to let our guard down. Social distancing has kept us safer and I urge everyone to continue protecting themselves. That includes washing your hands often, maintaining safe social distancing, wearing a mask, sanitizing surfaces often and staying home if you’re feeling sick.
Of these necessary measures, wearing a mask is essential for health purposes. Until we have achieved immunity in the population, we all must remain committed to doing our part to stop the risk of spreading this deadly virus, which currently has no specific (antiviral) treatment to date.
Colleagues who are working from home should continue doing so at least through July 31 while we work to enhance physical distancing and safety procedures in our buildings.
Co-existing with COVID-19
While the crisis has abated, we are prepared to co-exist with COVID-19 as we resume elective surgeries and general health care for our communities. Hospital visitation rules have been modified under State guidance to allow more flexibility in visitation for our hospitalized non-COVID patients. Visitation in outpatient settings and cancer treatment areas remain unchanged at this time.
We remain committed to keeping our patients, colleagues and community safe through a variety of measures:
- Enhanced cleaning in accordance with CDC standards;
- Restricted entry with no symptomatic workers and remote work when possible;
- Entry screening for checking temperatures and symptoms, and for distributing the masks required of everyone;
- Pre-procedure testing to identify COVID-positive patients for additional measures and specialized processes;
- Dedicated COVID-free zones for patients not known to have COVID-19 or COVID symptoms.
These precautions will continue into the foreseeable future, aligned with the latest CDC and health department recommendations.
This has been a difficult season, but it’s far from over. There is still much to learn about this disease. We are prepared to continue caring for patients with COVID-19, along with those who don’t, until an effective treatment and eventually a vaccine is available.
Until then, hospitals and outpatient centers remain safe places to receive care. No one should hesitate to visit their doctor. Our mission of service as a compassionate and transforming healing presence has not wavered throughout these challenging times.
I am grateful for the incredible dedication of frontline workers, our remote work-from-home colleagues and the countless people who lift us up with donations of supplies, food, gratitude and encouragement.
Thank you for your continued support of our ministry.
President and CEO
Trinity Health Michigan
and Southeast Regions