By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon’s hospital is prepared for an influx of patients due to the coronavirus outbreak as officials encourage people to postpone any non-emergency surgeries.
“We will get through this,” said Teresa Gray, president of Integris Canadian Valley Hospital in Yukon. “We’re prepared. This is what we’re trained to do. We’ll do what’s necessary to take care of our patients.”
No positive patient cases have been reported at Integris Canadian Valley Hospital, 1201 Health Center Parkway.
Integris Health administrators and personnel at the Yukon hospital are prepared in case there is a surge of patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been preparing for a couple of weeks in the event we need to deal with this crisis,” Gray said. “We’re in phase one of a ‘code white’, preparing for influxes or emergency-type situations.”
Hospital officials on Wednesday began evaluating the cancellation of elective, non-emergency surgeries and procedures.
This is being done to preserve personal protective equipment, which is in short supply across the United States.
“It also gives us that opportunity to re-deploy our caregivers where they’re more greatly needed,” Gray said. “We’re working with our surgeons and our patients to postpone and reschedule cases now.”
Integris Canadian Valley is ready if there is a surge of coronavirus cases that fill existing hospital beds. Other space inside the local medical facility is available.
“We do have plans in place in the event we fill up the rooms,” Gray said. “The drills we’re conducting right now are based on a 95-percent capacity and accepting a 20 percent surge of patients.
“If we’re already cancelling elective procedures, that will free up beds. We’re working with our community partners and our nursing homes on patients that can be discharged. We also have an additional unit on the third floor that we have moved over furnishings and equipment in the event we need to set those rooms up as patient rooms.”
Changes also may be made in the hospital’s pre-op and recovery areas if more space is needed for patients.
USING BEST PRACTICES
Yukon hospital officials are communicating closely with the Oklahoma State Health Department and Oklahoma Hospital Association, also working with colleagues in other states that already have experienced surge capacities at their medical facilities.
“Our focus has been on keeping our caregivers safe and using best practices when managing patients who are coming for testing,” Gray said. “We’ve activated daily drills to include our surge capacity and are evaluating our internal and external resources for additional supplies, text kits and other items we might need to manage an influx of patients.”
Integris Canadian Valley has implemented a limited visitor policy to protects its patients, staff and the public. Entries into the hospital building have been restricted in response to concerns about the virus spreading.
Integris Canadian Valley staff are screening and taking temperatures of visitors to ensure nobody is allowed in the building who could be at risk.
“We have done a lot of things internally to promote ‘social distancing’,” Gray said. “We’ve taken up tables and chairs, roped off conference rooms, waiting areas and lobbies.”
Integris Health continually prepares for these types of large-scale medical events at all its facilities, including the Yukon hospital.
Besides participating in drills, Integris personnel follow contingency plans and disaster plans.
Hospital personnel are fielding many questions and have been working to educate the public about COVID-19.
People are asked not to come to the hospital’s emergency room to be tested since the ER is reserved only for those with serious illnesses and injuries.
Dr. David Chansolme, Integris Health’s medical director of infection prevention, told people they “don’t have to get a test” for the coronavirus unless they have severe symptoms.
“We don’t have enough tests,” he said. “We’re saving our tests for the most ill people. If everybody rushes to the emergency room just to get a test, they’re not going to be available. We just don’t have them.
“Because of that, we’re asking people who don’t feel terribly ill to stay at home and try to manage the illness as best they can there with things like acetominophen and lots of fluids. If we do those things, we can start to ‘flatten that curve’ while we get ahead of this very serious health situation that affects all of us.”
TRY SOCIAL DISTANCING
“We’re encouraging social distancing,” Gray said. “If you don’t need to be out, stay home.”
Civic clubs and local organizations who convene regularly at Integris Canadian Valley Hospital have been told to make other plans for their meetings.
“Actually, we’ve had a lot of the community groups reach out to offer help and to volunteer,” Yukon’s hospital chief said. “We’ve had a great response from the community.”
Integris Health officials hope the measures the State of Oklahoma has established will limit the number of positive coronavirus cases in their facilities.
“I appreciate the commitment and dedication of our caregivers who are ready to stand up and do what is necessary if we do have patients who come to Canadian Valley,” Gray said. “We appreciate the support from the community.”