By Jill Welton
President, Dignity Health-Glendale Memorial Hospital
These are truly unprecedented times. Our nurses, physicians and other health-care workers train and drill for epidemic and pandemic responses throughout their careers. Yet we have never seen anything like COVID-19. Regardless of how relentless this virus has been, our staff suits up and shows up every day to continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care to those in need.
Everyone is experiencing some level of “pandemic fatigue.” Those of us in health care have a special responsibility and a unique opportunity to lead in this time of uncertainty. We will stay true to our values and strive to do the right thing for our staff, physicians, patients and community to get through this crisis — together.
We are confident that our hospital is well prepared to navigate this next wave. We also need everyone in the community to do their part to help slow the spread of this virus. Over the course of the last nine months, we have learned a great deal about the treatment, management and prevention of COVID-19. So many things have changed about this virus, except how you contract it. Everyone should wear a face mask properly — over your nose and mouth. All of us should wash our hands often or use sanitizer. We need to continue maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet from people outside your household, and households should NOT mix.
This is especially true for the upcoming holidays. I encourage everyone to observe any restrictions or guidelines put in place by public health officials. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate the holidays, please practice safe behaviors. If you are sick, stay home. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been directly exposed to someone who has recently tested positive for the virus, should not participate in group activities. We are anxious about December and January. As the weather gets colder, people gather indoors and flu season is typically at its worst. Please get your flu vaccine. You can contract COVID-19 and flu at the same time.
In addition to precautions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones, we also want you to know that we are here when you need us. If you or a loved one are experiencing a heart attack, stroke or other emergencies, do not delay the care you need. Our hospitals are safe places to seek care.
Everyone entering our hospital is screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and asked to wear a mask while on campus. We have secured an extensive inventory of personal protective equipment and provided appropriate PPE to our health-care workers. We have adopted even more stringent cleaning and sanitizing processes. We have limited visitors to specific areas of the hospital and restricted visitors from COVID-19 units.
Glendale Memorial is following the progress of vaccine development for COVID-19 and we are proactively preparing to receive and distribute a vaccine to our health-care workers whenever it becomes available. Distribution plans for a COVID-19 vaccine will be determined by the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and state and local health departments — including how and when we will receive the vaccine, how many doses will be available, and who should receive the first doses.
As the president of Dignity Health-Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, my number one priority is to ensure the safety of everyone that enters our facility — from our staff and physicians to our patients and their loved ones. We remain vigilant in protecting our communities by identifying, isolating and treating people with COVID-19 symptoms who come to us for care.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday.
Jill Welton is president of Dignity Health-Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center.