As efforts continue to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, staff members at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie have worked to provide the highest level of care for patients, while keeping staff and the public safe.

Hospital President Will Turner said the safety and well-being of patients and caregivers has been the hospital’s primary concern throughout the pandemic.

“While we have spent weeks preparing for a surge of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, our communities’ adherence to stay at home orders has helped to bend the curve and slow the spread,” Turner said. “However, the resulting fear some in our communities have of contracting COVID-19 at a healthcare setting may be causing a larger health crisis than the virus is. It is a sort of a surge of unintended consequences.”

Turner said the hospital’s advisory board recently noted that people are dying at higher rates due to delaying treatment and that late presentation to care settings is leading to poor outcomes.

Examples of delayed care the Baylor Scott & White system has seen include patients who have arrived at care sites with pronounced congestive heart failure, a condition that advanced while distancing efforts were in place. Patients with significant pulmonary conditions have presented at hospitals and required inpatient care. Other patients have arrived with advanced infections after trying to treat wounds at home.

Going forward, the healthcare system will have to navigate the pandemic and maintain preparations and readiness to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19 while also helping communities see the hospital and care sites as a safe place to receive treatment to have their delayed needs met, Turner said.

“As we navigate new challenges together, we are proud to pave the way in creating COVID-19 Safe Care environments,” he said. “We want patients to have confidence that their safety is our top priority and to feel peace of mind when scheduling and receiving care.

“We are committed to educating our communities about the many ways we are working to safeguard their health and well-being – as well as that of our caregivers – from COVID-19,” he said.

New measures and protections are in place across the hospital system, surgery centers and clinics in accordance with CDC guidance and recommendations by clinical experts, he said, noting that the hospital also has developed the COVID-19 Safe Care plan to ensure a high quality of care provided and safety to the public is maintained.

Some of these steps include:

• COVID-19 testing of patients deemed appropriate through individual case review prior to in-hospital surgeries; patient swabs collected via convenient drive-through locations.

• Virtual waiting rooms that allow clinic patients and loved ones of hospital or surgery center patients to receive updates about their care via calls and text messaging.

• Virtual care options provided to patients before and after surgeries and procedures when appropriate, simplifying the experience.

• Masking of patients, approved visitors and staff in hospitals, surgery centers and clinics.

• Enhanced cleaning and touch-free protocols in hospitals, surgery centers and clinics, including UV-light disinfection and paperless registration.

• COVID-19 home monitoring digital care journey, enabled through the MyBSWHealth app or website, to be offered to those diagnosed with COVID-19 so they can be supported by care teams while quarantined.

Turner said Baylor Scott & White Health has expanded its virtual care options, such as an eVisit, as a fast and safe option to ensure patients receive the care they need. Patients can also do a face-to-face video visit with their doctor using a camera-enabled device. More information on the options can found at www.BSWHealth.com/virtualcare.

When visiting the hospital, patients and visitors are asked to wear a mask upon arrival, with the exception of children under 2 years old, those with breathing problems or anyone unable to remove a mask on his or her own.

The hospital has implemented a one visitor policy for people visiting non-COVID-19 patients. Screening includes a temperature check. People with temperatures of or over 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted to visit.

The labor and delivery rooms are ready and reserved exclusively for moms when the time comes for delivery.

“Our hospital remains open and available for mothers-to-be,” Turner said. “We want to encourage pregnant women, especially those whose pregnancies are considered high-risk, to continue following their appointment schedule to ensure mom and baby are both healthy.”

Expectant mothers or women giving birth are permitted to be accompanied by one care partner. Overnight visitations are allowed for pediatric patients and women in the labor and delivery and postpartum units. Patients and visitors are all screened before entering the facility.

“If a pregnant patient is experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, is confirmed positive for COVID-19 or is a person under investigation for COVID-19, she should notify the obstetric unit prior to arrival so the facility can make appropriate infection control preparations,” Turner said. “She will be treated by our teams, who follow CDC guidelines and recommendations for treating patients with high-consequence infectious diseases.”

Turner said the hospital is changing its way it conducts newborn exams to limit the further spread of COVID-19.

“During the hospital stay, providers will be wearing a mask and examining newborns near the door of patient rooms as precautionary measures,” Turner said. “We ask that mothers and their visitors maintain at least 6 feet of distance from their provider during the visit. Providers will happily share updates and answer questions either from the doorway or by telephone.”

On behalf of the hospital, Turner thanked the community for its ongoing support as well as extending his appreciation to the providers and staff for their dedication during this time.

Snapshot of Care at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie

• More than 90-percent of the hospital care provided at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie for the past two months is for care unrelated to COVID-19.

• Of Baylor Scott & White patient-facing employees who had an exposure to a COVID-positive patient, 1-percent of those tested were found to be positive. The majority of these exposures happened in the early days of hospital system’s national response to the novel virus with patients who were not presenting with the then-known symptoms of the virus. Over time, as collective knowledge has increased, including guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the hospital’s protocols have changed and these positives are much less frequent.

• Over the past two months, Baylor Scott & White has continued to perform urgent surgeries, such as those for cancer-related problems, urologic procedures, appendectomies and gall bladder surgeries.

• Baylor Scott & White welcomed more than 170 babies in March and April, including a set of twins and triplets in April.

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