Prior to April 2, use of N95 masks and face shields was limited to the clinical staff members who were caring for COVID-19 positive patients and persons under investigation for COVID-19. On April 2, GBMC made a proactive change and provided N95 masks to all staff members who come in direct contact with patients, regardless of their role. Additionally, each employee was provided with an ear-loop mask to wear in non-clinical areas if they would like to. Employees are also permitted to bring in a fabric ear-loop mask for use in non-clinical areas. This change in PPE usage was made in an abundance of caution to further protect patients and staff. GBMC will continue to adjust its PPE practices as public health guidance changes.
"We have followed evidence-based guidelines to protect our staff and patients since the beginning of the current public health crisis," said John B. Chessare, MD, MPH, President and CEO of the GBMC HealthCare System. "We understand that everyone is concerned."
"Our updated PPE process is ahead of the curve," said JoAnn Z. Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer of the GBMC HealthCare System. "Despite a global shortage of PPE, we have issued masks to all employees."
"We have taken many steps to ensure our team members and patients are safe," Dr. Ioannou said. "We have restricted visitors and limited entrances to our facilities. We have also:
- Cohorted COVID-19 positive patients together on the same units and "clustered" care to minimize the number of possible exposures.
- Set up surge tents outside the Emergency Department to allow rapid throughput of patients who exhibit upper respiratory symptoms, but do not need hospitalization.
- We are following the guidance and recommendations from the CDC for pregnant healthcare personnel (HCP). We are limiting the exposure of our pregnant personnel when caring for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. For the safety of our employees, we are recommending all staff wear an N95 mask and face shield when caring for all patients."
These new communication avenues give employees the opportunity to get the answers they need more often than once a week during the Town Hall meeting.
"We are also sharing with our teams the inspiring acts of kindness that we receive from the public, and we are posting our own positive messages about our team in internal communications and on GBMC HealthCare System social media channels," Chessare said. "We are extremely appreciative of the community’s efforts to encourage our dedicated healthcare workers as well."