Keep calm and carry on. That is the attitude many Americans are embracing as they adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has upended life for nearly all of us in varying degrees. Luckily, the Scandinavian heritage that prevails in our region makes us better equipped than most to deal with our “new normal.”
At Trinity Health, bending our business model to COVID-19 has brought about sweeping changes in our care system. To comply with government requests to prepare for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients, we have reduced surgeries and clinic visits. As we recently announced, these moves have forced us to make difficult decisions regarding staffing levels and pay. The goal is to remain financially viable so that our employees – the heart of our organization and the reason why many of you choose Trinity – all have jobs to return to.
The good news is that Trinity Health is blessed with talented leaders and medical teams who are experts in emergency planning and clinical care. They’re meeting daily to support the needs of our patients and employees – sharing best practices, developing strategies, and implementing creative solutions to serve your healthcare needs, protect our staff, and sustain the institution that the founders of Trinity Health launched nearly 100 years ago.
Test, Test, Test
The concept of drive-thru testing for coronavirus had barely entered the national lexicon when our Facilities Management staff sprang into action to make Trinity Health the first drive-thru COVID-19 test site in North Dakota. Although testing supplies were limited in the early days of the pandemic, we now have a greater stock of test kits and continue to perform approximately 100 tests per day for patients who meet the criteria established by health authorities.
Our Laboratory professionals are working closely with North Dakota’s Division of Laboratory Services to add additional courier pick-ups to improve turnaround times for faster test results. We’re also engaging with other healthcare providers in the region to piggyback their specimens with ours to give all of us test results sooner.
Nothing matters more to us than your health. Our clinical teams, led by critical care and infectious disease specialists, are experienced and well-prepared to safely care for patients with COVID-19.
COVID-19 isn’t the only health problem worthy of medical attention, however. Patients should not be deterred from seeking care for emergent or ongoing health conditions because of the pandemic. Clinics are still seeing patients for necessary visits, and, thanks to a versatile IT Department, dozens of providers across Trinity Health’s system are using telehealth as a means of caring for patients. Now, instead of delaying appointments with Trinity Health providers, many patients are given the option of accomplishing them telephonically or via telehealth. Some are phone-only visits, but the majority are interactive video (face-to-face).
A Safe Healthcare Environment
We are doing everything we can to ensure that patients, the community, and our workforce remain safe. Our Materials Management staff provide daily updates to our Incident Command regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies. Thanks to the ingenuity of our staff and generous donations from the public, we have rounded up PPE that is sufficient to keep our employees safe in the near term.
Worthy of special recognition are Trinity Health’s Environmental Services employees. They’re on the frontlines to ensure that all surfaces in our facilities are disinfected to the highest possible standard using protocols and safety measures recommended by state and local public health agencies. We treat our facilities with protectant solutions that create a microscopic film shown to kill any virus, germ, or bacteria on a treated surface. This product is safe and effective because it forms a colorless, odorless protective barrier on all surfaces in our facilities to prevent cross-contamination.
In addition, our germ-zapping robots are working overtime, not only disinfecting surfaces using UV light hundreds of times more intense that sunlight, but also “zapping” community donated masks prior to distribution.
Making More Possible
Making More Possible is more than a catchphrase, it is Trinity Health’s pledge to you. Our employees are working hard to provide you and your family with safe, affordable, high-quality healthcare during this pandemic. I thank our doctors, nurses, and our entire team for their heroic efforts all through this public health crisis.
Remember to continue your social distancing, handwashing, and wiping down surfaces. And please, check out our virtual visits and other online tools to help manage your care. We will continue to keep you informed of all developments as we confront this virus. Please know that our team of employees is committed to your safe and seamless care, today and into the future.
|John M. Kutch
President & CEO