By Jaynie Studenmund
Special to The Outlook
Our world has changed extraordinarily over the past several months in ways no one could have predicted at the start of 2020, a new decade.
We’ve faced an unprecedented pandemic that has radically changed the way we live our lives and think about our family, friends and society. We’ve seen a worldwide movement against racial injustice in response to the murder of George Floyd and other societal disparities — including those in health care. (To say nothing of the economic disruption, unemployment rate and volatile stock market, all of which carry major, ongoing impacts.) The confluence of these events further underlines the truth that keeping our community safe and close requires each and every one of us to work together. Please know that our board and management are reevaluating our diversity and inclusion programs to be more responsive and robust.
At Huntington Hospital, true to our mission to take care of the health needs of our local community, we see this kind of collaboration in action every day. We see it in our hospital staff’s tireless commitment to providing compassionate care. We see it in the incredible outpouring of support from all of you. So many of you have reached out to say thank you in extra special and meaningful ways. This has warmed the hearts of our “Team Huntington.” In particular, I want to acknowledge the exceptional leadership of our CEO, Dr. Lori Morgan, alongside our physicians, nurses, frontline staff and managers who worked devotedly around the clock for our patients and community. Many have said that the pandemic reaffirmed why they chose a career in health care, and they remain even more committed to the health of our patients and community.
With California’s early “safer at home” orders, we were able to avoid the untenable number of COVID-19 cases that some models predicted which would have burdened our healthcare resources well beyond their capacity. Even still, Huntington Hospital had one of the highest volumes of coronavirus patients in California. We were able to care for all patients within our own hospital walls and without needing to lean on our surge plan elements, which included a mobile medical unit on our hospital campus and the Pasadena Convention Center, which was enacted in partnership with the city of Pasadena. (We were also proud to support community testing efforts at the Rose Bowl with our nursing staff, in addition to testing patients at our hospital and outpatient test center.) At this time, Pasadena’s City Council voted to dismantle the care center at the Pasadena Convention Center. Huntington Hospital is also moving to take down elements of our surge plan.
Thanks to the good work of our community and hospital staff, we’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients at Huntington Hospital since the peak we experienced in late April. As we closely monitor patient trends, especially in light of the recent re-opening of society and increased gatherings, we have experienced an anticipated uptick in COVID-19 positive patients (our website shows our daily COVID-19 census for those who are interested in tracking). Rest assured, we have ample resources to treat our community and remain safe for care and prepared to treat our patients throughout this chapter of healthcare history. I share a passionate plea with you all: As this pandemic marches on, each of us needs to remain vigilant and follow recommended public health guidelines, which include social distancing, wearing a mask in public and practicing good hand hygiene.
Our board of directors meets frequently with the hospital management team and physician leaders to closely monitor and assess the evolving pandemic. Following recommendations from health authorities ― and armed with data that shows our infection prevention measures have been successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within our walls — we resumed elective surgeries on May 11. We have since reopened many outpatient services (many of which offer both in-person and telehealth) and we remain open for all essential care services. Please, don’t delay needed care. Huntington remains safe for all patients. So, whether it be for a health-enhancing surgery, to deliver a baby or seek emergency treatment, we are here for you. (In fact, many babies were born at Huntington during the COVID-019 surge, and each new life brought us all great joy.)
Looking forward, we individually and collectively contemplate the ongoing impact of the turbulence surrounding us and determine what we can — and must — do to move forward to enable a more just society. Our “next normal” is a journey, and it will require the best in all of us to get there.
I genuinely hope you and your loved ones are doing as well as can be expected during the unprecedented degree of challenges that face our nation and the world at large. I believe that we will come out stronger as long as we work together and show compassion for one another. Compassionate community care — it remains at the heart of all Huntington Hospital stands for, now more than ever.
Jaynie Studenmund is chair of the Huntington Memorial Hospital board.