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CMH Update: Four initiatives positively impacting hospital capacity in the next few weeks

At Citizens Memorial Hospital and Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation we are looking at various options to help offset the influx of positive coronavirus inpatients.

Over the past several months, the number of positive COVID-19 inpatients has steadily increased and varies daily between 15-20 positive inpatients with a peak of 23 positive inpatients mid-November. Since the pandemic began, we have cared for approximately 200 positive inpatients many who were critically ill, on ventilators and being cared for in our intensive care unit.

 “While our number of positive COVID-19 inpatients seems low compared to reports at other area hospitals, the impact on CMH is significant,” said Patrick Douglas, Chairman of Citizens Memorial Hospital Board of Directors. “Throughout our system including our clinics, hospital, COVID-19 drive-thru site and long-term care facilities, 2,125 people have tested positive for COVID-19. CMH has capacity for 50 beds, which means during the pandemic almost half of our beds are being used to care for patients with coronavirus.”

Although Thanksgiving is in the past, the impact of holiday gatherings may be felt in the coming week. It is predicted that more people will be infected with coronavirus and more people will need hospital care. The strain on our system is felt throughout the entire organization.

At CMH and CMH Foundation, we are working across our system to find innovative solutions to continue to fulfill our mission: Caring for every generation through exceptional services by leading physicians and a compassionate healthcare team.

CMH/CMH Foundation have implemented four initiatives that will positively impact our hospital capacity in the next few weeks:

  1. Our rural health clinics now have the ability to do rapid COVID-19 testing. If a patient either has symptoms or an exposure to COVID, they can be seen and will have the results before leaving the clinic.
  2. CMH established a special outpatient COVID-19 infusion clinic Nov. 23 to administer Bamlanivimab infusions. The Food and Drug Administration has issued an Emergency Use Authorization to permit the use of Bamlanivimab for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 infections and/or hospitalization. This monoclonal antibody reduces the risk of hospitalization and is given by IV infusion.
    The medication is on strict allocation with product released weekly based on COVID positive results and hospitalizations in our area. CMH has developed a selection process for identifying patients who qualify for therapy and are offering infusions to those at highest risk first.
    “In the nine days since we’ve started administering this special infusion therapy, we’ve treated 31 COVID positive patients and we are very encouraged by early results,” said Ron Evans, M.D., CMH Chief Medical Officer. “This infusion is a game changer and will potentially help patients who might otherwise be hospitalized to receive outpatient treatment and recover.”
  3. The hospital is collaborating with long-term care to create a post-acute COVID-19 wing at Citizens Memorial Healthcare Facility for convalescing patients. The special wing can accommodate up to 20 patients and is self-contained with negative air pressure and a separate entrance. It will have dedicated employees that will specifically care for patients in that unit and will not care for residents in other areas of CMHCF.
    The addition of this unit at CMHCF will help those patients that have recovered from their acute phase of hospitalization and are ready for discharge, but may need extra rehabilitation services in order to restore their normal functions.
  4. CMH Foundation long-term care facilities have received seven BD Veritor point of care testing units that are installed and ready for use starting Dec. 4. Each facility will be able to test employees and residents that may have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID, and receive results within 15 minutes. Receiving results within minutes rather than days enables nursing staff to initiate treatment sooner thus limiting the number of people who could potentially be exposed to the virus.
“The unique feature of Citizens Memorial is the visionary design of both the hospital and foundation working in tandem to support the overall health care needs of our communities,” said Douglas. “This design has enabled our healthcare system to overcome previous obstacles and has proven to successfully position CMH during this pandemic.”

 Future Initiatives

CMH formed a COVID-19 vaccine task force to prepare for a quick and efficient response once a vaccine is approved and recommended for use by the FDA. The task force includes representatives from pharmacy, medical leadership, infection prevention, hospital and foundation administration, employee health, supply chain, human resources, marketing, information services and security.

The group is finalizing plans for storage, distribution, tracking and administering of the vaccine in a tiered response. Following CDC guidelines, the vaccine will be offered initially to front-line CMH/CMH Foundation healthcare workers and then will expand to long-term care residents, patients and the public.

“Although we are encouraged by the prospect of the coronavirus vaccine being approved by the FDA in the next few weeks, the pandemic is expected to continue into 2021,” says Evans. “The best way to prevent spreading the coronavirus is to wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands frequently and avoid large gatherings especially during the upcoming holidays.”

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