Humans in Healthcare

Doctors, nurses, PAs, surgeons, and others in healthcare are working hard to keep the outbreak of COVID-19 under control. 

Cody’s local hospital, Cody Regional Health, has implemented protocols to ensure that the spread of this novel virus is contained and controlled. According to Chief Clinical Officer Keith Ungrund, meetings with department directors are now conducted over the phone or via programs like Skype or GoToMeeting. Some departments, like the wound care department, have been moved to a different building to reduce the amount of patient traffic, and workers are advised to wear masks at all times. “It does make you feel a little claustrophobic,” said Kyla Murray, a nurse in the wound care department.  

Some new departments have also been created to combat the virus. One of these departments is the incident command department, headed by Ungrund. The duties of the incident command department consist of making sure employees are prepared, ensuring proper training and equipment are provided, the creation of specific areas to treat COVID-19, and making sure the hospital is keeping up with new state and federal legislation. “In a way,” said Ungrund, “we are getting back to the basics of providing the best care and compassion possible during this very fearful time.” 

Tom Fitzsimmons, an EMS worker for the hospital, says that his workday has changed drastically. He and his co-workers are no longer able to enter the building through the ambulance bay, but rather they have to go through the front, where they are scanned for COVID-19 symptoms. If they are clear, they receive a sticker that says that they are clear to proceed as “normal.” They then clean the truck with a hydrogen-peroxide and silver ion mixture to ensure that all possible instances involving the virus are avoided. “… we are quite slow,” said Fitzsimmons, “The calls we do get, however, are higher acuity because the person waited too long.”  

While on calls, the EMS department tries its best to limit unnecessary exposure. They have begun using telemedicine as a way to reduce the amount of ER traffic in the hospital, by sending encrypted data to doctors, which enables them to get a treatment plan together, all without taking the patient to the hospital.  

All non-essential appointments in orthopedics, radiology and cardiac, rehabilitation, pediatric, internal medicine, and women’s health are being postponed to protect the health and safety of everyone. The hospital is also restricting visitation in hospital spaces and emergency areas, children are allowed one legal guardian in the case of emergencies, and maternity patients are allowed one other person (spouse, friend, family member) to assist with birthing according to the  Cody Regional Health website. 

Ungrund describes having members of the community reaching out with donations, making masks, providing meals for staff, and donating protective equipment. He also notes that the community has been great at following orders from the governor and the CDC. 

“We still have too many people dragging their kids into Walmart.” said Fitzsimmons, “Really, if you need to shop for your family, one person only.” The point of social distancing is to keep the community healthy, with so many people either disregarding CDC and government mandates, we risk furthering the spread of this virus.  

“I think I am comforted,” said Murray, “because I know how hard our hospital and community are trying to combat the virus from spreading.” Murray describes that spending time with her family has helped in distracting her from what’s going on in the outside world. “I feel very lucky to live in Cody.”

Courtesy of Tom Fitzsimmons
Stickers like this are placed on employees after they are scanned for COVID-19 at the beginning of each of their shifts.

Remember to thank your local healthcare workers during this time, and remember to stay home and wash your hands.