Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital has doubled down on its commitment to safely help mothers bring their bundles of joy into the world. In fact, USC-VHH delivered 61 babies in July, the most it has welcomed in any month in the last seven years and more than double the number of births in the same period in 2019. Part of the reason for that increase is the hospital’s growing reputation for creating a supportive environment for expectant mothers and fathers and having state-of-the-art medical care, like the neonatal intensive care unit’s specialized staff and equipment to treat ill or premature newborns, USC-VHH officials said. The unit opened in 2018. “We have developed a wonderful relationship with our obstetricians and created a collaborative, supportive environment for them and the mothers who entrust them to deliver their babies. We have focused on adding additional support, the NICU and laborists, to provide a higher level of care capabilities,” said Kenny Pawlek, USC-VHH’s chief operating officer. “During COVID-19, we’ve stressed safety for our moms, parents, babies, MDs, nursing team and employees.”
While the tally of positive COVID-19 tests grows larger, the average age of patients has been inching lower in recent weeks as the initial wave of the pandemic has surged back with fury. When the pandemic grew in March and April, hospitals found themselves overwhelmed and low on key supplies to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and elderly men and women with pre-existing health conditions represented a large percentage of cases. A significant number of such patients came from skilled nursing facilities, whose residents sometimes made up a super-majority of deaths in a given community. Now, in the weeks after Los Angeles County and state officials briefly relaxed public restrictions, it’s a different picture.
Officials are urging caution and adherence to policies meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as, weeks after California began reopening and mass protests began forming across the county, there has been a spike in reported cases of the virus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has largely taken direct initiative to reverse an easing of restrictive policies that counties were mostly left to enact at the start of the pandemic in March. This week, he ordered a flurry of counties, including Los Angeles County, to bar indoor sit-down service at restaurants, shut down bars altogether and, ahead of the holiday weekend, close down beaches.
The county’s overall numbers of daily new confirmed cases have steadily risen in recent weeks, Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas told the City Council this week, and although Glendale itself experienced seven spikes of greater than 20 new daily cases during June — four of which were greater than 30 — its seven-day average only crossed north of 20 once.
“That 20 number is a number that I feel is one that would keep us on a flattening-type curve,” Lanzas said Tuesday. “However, the cases across the county are troubling, and therefore the county and state have taken action to reverse some of the openings that have happened.”
As of press deadline this week, Glendale has had a total of 1,455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents, of whom 108 have died from the illness. Roughly half of those deaths are associated with skilled nursing facilities in Glendale, although the county’s data does not make it clear how many of those associated deaths are among residents or staff members.
In unincorporated La Crescenta-Montrose, the county has listed 57 confirmed cases and one death among residents. Continue reading “Keep Your Distance: City Sees Spike in Virus Cases”
As businesses and public spaces in Los Angeles County gradually reopened over the last few weeks, the data surrounding COVID-19 infection is showing some concerning trends. Last week, after several weeks of decline, L.A. County saw an uptick in not only the absolute number of positive cases, but also in the percentage of positive results. Some are attributing the increase in cases to more testing. However, the increased percentage of those tests that are positive indicates that COVID-19 is spreading more quickly in the community. The data also shows that the average age of those testing positive is trending younger than before re-opening.
While hospitalization for COVID-19 across the county is also again on the rise, the capacity in intensive care units and the supply of ventilators remains stable for the time being. We at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital remain prepared to care for any members of our community who may require hospitalization for complications arising from COVID-19. Continue reading “USC-VHH on Alert as COVID-19 Cases Surge”
Mary Virgallito’s fingerprints are all over USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.
Her title as infection preventionist means this isn’t a literal statement — she’ll sooner sanitize and wipe down a window than smudge a handprint on it — but rather metaphorical. Whether it’s food prep, janitorial service or surgery, if it happens at USC-VHH, it’s because Virgallito — a La Cañada Flintridge native who went off, became a nurse and returned home — gave it the thumbs-up.
“This involves every single aspect of what we do, even on the finance side,” she explained in a phone interview. “It’s something that I never really expected but you get a flavor for every aspect of how a hospital functions. You have to have a snapshot understanding of all of the disciplines. It’s really comprehensive. Many times people will ask me what I do and it’s hard to answer them in one sentence.” Continue reading “LCHS Graduate Plays Key Role at USC-VHH During Coronavirus”
La Cañada Flintridge’s L.A. County firefighters, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Department, Glendale Police Department and Glendale Fire Department were represented by more than 100 personnel during an emotional tribute that featured “Healthcare Heroes” representing USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital at two events last week. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aptly-named “Healthcare Heroes Shout-Out” was essentially first responders honoring first responders last Wednesday afternoon during a “day shift” tribute, then again on Friday night for “night shift” workers.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital continues to deliver babies and tries to keep its patients safe by screening individuals who come to the facility and also by limiting mothers to one guest.
In fact, the hospital is reporting its highest birthrate in years, and CEO Keith Hobbs pledged that USC-VHH will continue to deliver babies throughout the crisis.
Among the hospital’s newest mothers is Tiffany Yzaguirre, who gave birth to a healthy girl — Blake — via C-section on March 23. The 25-year-old said she felt the hospital staff was accommodating and that everything went well, even amidst all of the attention focused on the disease, which is caused by a novel coronavirus that emerged late last year.
“In the midst of the coronavirus and pandemic going on, it was a really eerie feeling to be at the hospital, but they took all the precautions they needed too,” Yzaguirre said. “They screened everyone at the door, which was slightly intimidating, but overall it was a great experience.”
Her doctor, Steven Hartford, a 35-year resident of LCF, said he has delivered babies for 36 years at the hospital. He said USC-VHH has sensible yet strict policies for getting inside and being safe since the coronavirus outbreak. Continue reading “USC-VHH Continues To Safely Deliver Babies Despite Coronavirus”
Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. Telemedicine began in the 1950s and was mostly used to connect doctors working with a patient in one location to specialists somewhere else. This was especially helpful to patients residing in rural locations or for hard-to-reach populations.
The advent of internet and smart devices with high-quality video transmission now allow for the delivery of remote healthcare directly to patients in their homes. With current COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and physical distancing recommendations, telemedicine has become an extremely powerful tool in the health care provider’s toolbox. Continue reading “Using Technology to Fight Coronavirus”