Coronavirus Update: April 21, 2020

Growth in new cases of COVID-19 across the nation, state, and region has flattened in recent days, and in places like New York, has declined considerably.  This has given reassurance to federal and state administrations to begin planning for the next phase in the COVID crisis – the initial easing of restrictions on travel and social distancing.  At the federal level, the three-phase approach was published late last week (attached).  At the state level, Governor Holcomb extended the “Stay at Home” order though May 1st and provided additional clarity regarding outdoor activity and healthcare operations (attached).  The revised executive order specifically notes the need for hospitals and healthcare providers to resume clinically indicated care that may have been postponed during the initial stage of the crisis.

While I will continue to reference the overall trends in the data related to COVID-19, if you wish to review the data at the county-level personally without the need to build a spreadsheet, the ISDH has enhanced their website and the Regenstrief Institute has developed an additional tool.  If you visit the pages at the following links and click on Hancock County on the map, you will see local detail at a level that was not previously available publicly:

https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/

https://www.regenstrief.org/covid-dashboard/

At Hancock Health we continue our COVID-related operations but are also working toward expanding access to our services for non-COVID patients as well.  It is important to note that the majority of patients we have seen during this incident have been for urgent reasons not related to COVID-care.  In addition, the number of patients needing COVID-care has diminished substantially over the course of the last week and is now at a lower level that we believe will be sustained over the long term until a vaccine is developed (with anticipated surges as society re-opens).  Given this, we are beginning to create the healthcare model for the “new normal” in our society.  While we plan on releasing a fourth video update this weekend that touches on these efforts, following are updates on our COVID-related activities currently.

  • The Hancock Triage Clinic, Hancock COVID Triage hotline (317-325-2683 (COVD), and nurse@hancockregional.org email lines continue to provide needed service to the community during this time.   We have received more than 1,500 calls to the Triage line and average 10 – 15 patients per day in the Clinic.
  • Remember, the Hancock Physician Network offices remain open, though most of the visits are virtual (telephonic or video-based), so if you need to see your doctor, please call their office.
  • Work to retrofit the Reflections unit to our first COVID unit is complete.  Because we anticipate the need to keep this unit available until the national public health emergency is ended (likely when a vaccine is in place), we have made the difficult decision to permanently cease operations of the Reflections Geropsychiatric unit that was located in this space previously and are working with associates from that unit to fill open positions elsewhere in our organization.
  • The second floor of the Gateway facility has been converted for use as a 50 bed expansion unit in case we need it (and we pray we do not).  Though we intend to leave this surge facility in place for the duration of the public health emergency, it will have no impact on the other services provided at Gateway (low-cost, high-quality imaging, lab and immediate care).
  • The end of in-person patient visitation has gone well and we have used the e-visitation system to great effect a few times.  We have revised the policy in relation to deaths and births (one visitor allowed in these situations).  Learn more on e-visitation at https://www.hancockregionalhospital.org/2020/03/friends-or-family-in-the-hospital-e-visit/
    *   We are blessed to be finding new avenues to obtain additional PPE and for a very generous community as well who are finding and bringing in additional supplies.  Should you know folks in the community who would like to participate, please have them contact Nancy Davis at ndavis@hancockregional.org.
  • We have developed a temporary transportation team and a food delivery team to help our patients receive food items and make it to their health care appointments while other transportation options are closed.  If you have patients that need transportation or food assistance, please contact Amanda Everidge at Aeveridge@hancockregional.org<mailto:Aeveridge@hancockregional.org>.
  • We have learned that additional food options are available at Meals-On-Wheels for a variety of situations not normally covered by their funding (they have received emergency funds) so please keep them in mind.  In addition, we learned today that the state FSSA office is distributing SNAP EBT cards to all families with school children previously serviced by the free and reduced cost meals program and providing access to delivery services as well.
  • We have made arrangements with Fairfield Inn to house hospital associates and medical staff, as well as first-responders in the community, who need temporary housing if they are concerned about carrying the virus home with them.  Our efforts are being coordinated by Gretchen Pike and Amanda Everidge and Hancock Health is covering the cost of these rooms and additional information.
  • Do your best, prepare for the worst – then trust God for the victory – Proverbs 21:31 (The Message translation)

All the Best,
Steve