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  • Combating Our Local COVID-19 Crisis: MGM’s Healthcare System is Stronger than Ever

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    For months now, Baptist Health and Jackson Hospital have been on the front lines, working hard to protect us all from COVID-19 and to get the River Region’s economy rolling again. Learn more about their efforts to care for our community in the midst of the pandemic.

    Since COVID-19 arrived in the River Region, Jackson Hospital has been living out its mission “to improve the health of all members of our community by providing superior, patient-centered and cost-effective care in a safe, compassionate environment.” But it’s had to adapt. The hospital put strict COVID-19-specific rules in place quickly, limiting visitors and rescheduling elective procedures.

    The hospital also increased the use of its Tru-D infection-killing robot throughout. The robot produces UV light energy to disinfect an entire room at the push of a button, helping to eliminate human error and destroying pathogens. Tru-D utilizes Sensor360 technology, which allows it to calculate variables within the room, such as size, geometry and location of equipment, and then deliver a precise and lethal amount of UVC light from one single location in the room.

    Jackson was the first hospital in the River Region to use Tru-D, allowing it to refine the use of this technology, which has proven vital during the pandemic. Tru-D is the only disinfection system used by healthcare facilities that has been CDC-funded and undergone random clinical trials to measure the effectiveness of disinfection. These trials have shown that the robot is capable of reducing the transmission of healthcare-associated infections by up to 30 percent and can fight deadly pathogens such as C. diff, MRSA and COVID-19.

    Joe Riley, Jackson Hospital’s CEO, stressed how seriously Jackson is taking its responsibility to the community during this trying time. “Our top priority continues to be the health, safety and well-being of our team members, physicians, patients, visitors and community,” he said. “We continue to work closely with local, state and federal agencies in order to implement recommendations for all of our continued safety.”

    Riley pointed out that he is equally concerned with his team’s mental health, and to help doctors, nurses and other staff deal with the long hours and any anxiety, Jackson has been providing regular informational updates and daily coping and stress-relief tips since the outbreak began. “I am so inspired by our Jackson teams – caring for those we serve,” he said.

    He also gave kudos and expressed appreciation to the community serving Jackson's team. “Jackson Hospital & Clinic is immensely grateful for the community support we have received during this pandemic,” he said. “It is said that one’s true character is revealed during hardships. The kindness and generosity the community has shown proves the River Region to be an outstanding group of individuals and businesses who come together for the greater good of our community, state and nation.”

    In response to the COVID-19 threat and in an effort to ensure access to care while also helping slow the virus’ spread, Baptist Health began by restricting visitors to the hospital and then canceling and rescheduling all elective procedures. The next phase was the opening of central Alabama’s first drive-up COVID-19 screening clinic on March 20 to provide fast and effective screening while limiting exposure.

    Staffed by Baptist Health team members from 7 am - 7 pm, seven days a week, the clinic is located in the former Governor’s House AFC PriMed facility off the Southern Bypass. The clinic only sees patients by appointment, so clinic staff are also manning a phone line that’s available around the clock daily to allow those seeking care to make an appointment.

    Before being given an appointment time, anyone concerned that they’re sick calls the number and then answers a series of questions created by the CDC. Their answers determine the appropriate next actions, namely whether they’ll need to be seen and tested at the clinic. Once at the clinic, all interaction with their patient occurs with them remaining in their car. Whether the patient is screened and swabbed for COVID-19 or not, they will receive clear guidance from a medical provider on the steps they need to take.

    On March 23, Baptist Health’s response plan expanded as it added a drive-up coronavirus care clinic in Prattville. “COVID-19 is something that Baptist Health team members have been preparing for over recent months. As this virus has spanned the nation and now made its way to the River Region, our role as healthcare professionals is to meet patient needs in a caring, compassionate manner,” said Kadie Agnew, Baptist Health’s Marketing and Communications Manager. “COVID-19 does not change our standard of care at Baptist Health – medical care is what we do, and we do it well. These clinics are an innovative approach to protect our other patient population and staff from the potential of contracting this virus within our own walls.”

    In just the first few weeks, both clinics were flooded with thousands of calls, and as those numbers increase, the clinic teams continue to exercise discipline and follow the protocols in place to ensure only patients who meet CDC criteria are tested to ensure no resources are wasted.

    Baptist Health’s dedicated team of doctors, nurses and other hospital, lab and clinic staff are its most valuable resources, and they’ve been working tirelessly to help the community through the pandemic, putting themselves and often, their own families, at risk. Yet their efforts have not been in vain; so far, they’ve proven immensely effective, as Baptist Health CEO Russ Tyner noted in a memo to his team and Baptist Health stakeholders.

    In the days following the first clinic’s opening, he explained that while the specifics have changed, the need that Baptist Health fills in the River Region has not. “Our role as healthcare professionals is to meet the needs of the sick in a caring and compassionate manner. There’s no doubt that the need has increased due to COVID-19, but our role remains the same. Thanks to you, we have proven that Baptist Health is more than equipped to respond during this public health crisis while remaining true to our standard of excellence in healthcare,” he said.

    Tyner went on to praise his team’s hard work and offer encouragement for the work yet to be done. “Thank you for all that you bring to this organization every day and for your dedication during trying times,” he said. “You make a difference in the lives of our patients, and together, we can help fight the spread of this virus.”
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