03/31/2020 Thank you Baxley News Banner for the great article published March 31, 2020.
Appling Healthcare Working Hard To Prepare for Coronavirus
By Mary Ann Ellis
According to Randy Crawford, CEO of the Appling HealthCare System, just because Appling County has no reported coronavirus cases yet does not mean that healthcare professionals should stop preparing for a possible influx of cases.
“At Appling Healthcare, we don’t have any confirmed cases of coronavirus but we have several tests pending, just as many other doctor’s offices in town,” he said. “Fortunately, that gives us even more time to conduct in-depth training for every department to prepare for multiple scenarios.”
The most recent medical training sessions, which are coordinated by Dr. Mary Katherine McMahan, the chief medical officer of Appling Healthcare, include a wide variety of procedures, hands-on training, and open discussions. All staff members – including physicians, nurses, technicians, housekeeping, pharmacy, respiratory, radiology and EMS – are involved in training, either by leading or participating in the sessions.
The sessions range from how to properly put on, remove and discard personal protective equipment to practicing patient intubation and ventilation. The groups also trained for scenarios involving receiving coronavirus patients at the Emergency Department and then transporting the patients to areas within the hospital such as ICU or MedSurg.
But long before the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Appling Healthcare was training for infectious diseases. “We started training for infectious diseases years ago, but our training intensified during the Ebola outbreak and we have continued,” said Crawford. He added that Appling Healthcare completed their most recent training at the beginning of this year.
In addition to preparing for coronavirus patients, Crawford said the hospital system has also been focusing on preventing cases among patients and staff. While some people in the community might have been upset about the temporary suspension of visitors to the hospital and other precautionary measures, Crawford says their top priority is the safety and well-being of the patients, staff, and community. These policies have, unfortunately, become standard in health systems as the coronavirus spreads across the country.
Perhaps the most important factor for a hospital during an infectious disease outbreak is an adequate stock of medical supplies. “Our director of purchasing, Jeffrey Simmons, has done a phenomenal job of ensuring we have the appropriate quality and quantity of equipment, gowns, masks and other needed supplies,” said Crawford. “The hospital is prepared but if we get, for example, 40 patients in at the same time with COVID-19, then we would have a serious problem and run out as would other facilities.”
Appling Healthcare also has a sufficient supply of COVID-19 test kits currently available for those individuals who meet the risk criteria previously outlined by the Georgia Department of Public Health Laboratory. This criteria may change as the situation is very fluid. In addition, more options for testing are becoming available. “I have spoken with a few other healthcare facilities and we are trying to get tests that can give a faster result and split the cost of the order,” said Crawford.
Augmenting Appling Healthcare’s supplies are generous donations of hand-made masks and gowns to go on top of their official PPE equipment. “People are making masks and gowns that go over the official ones to help them last longer and preserve our current supply,” said Crawford. “We appreciate very much their contributions and support, just as we appreciate the many prayers and heartwarming words of encouragement that we receive from the community on social media.”
Crawford also wanted to recognize Appling Healthcare’s entire team of employees for their tireless efforts, energy, and dedication. “These outstanding healthcare professionals are true superheroes as they are working the frontlines during this war with the coronavirus,” he said.
He added, “This virus has changed our way of life for right now, but between the healthcare professionals and the community, we’re all in this together.”