Your Safety is Our Priority
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been the predominant topic in healthcare for several months, but other health issues have not gone away. Unfortunately, many people have delayed their care for fear of the virus, which may have very serious consequences. John B. Chessare, MD, MPH, President and CEO of GBMC HealthCare, joined WBAL Radio’s Coronavirus Townhall to talk about why it’s critical for people to come to the hospital when they need medical care and what GBMC is doing to keep patients safe.
Throughout the pandemic, especially in the past few weeks, the number of COVID-19 positive patients and patients under investigation (PUI) at GBMC has held relatively steady. “We’ve been very lucky,” Dr. Chessare explained. “Since the beginning of the outbreak, people have followed the Governor’s guidance – they maintained physical distancing and washed their hands frequently – so we didn’t get a significant number of cases.”
Dr. Chessare emphasized that it’s crucial for patients to continue their care and come to the hospital if they need to. He pointed to data from New York City that found a substantial number of people had died in their homes from heart attack or stroke because they had been too afraid to go to the emergency department. He urged anyone who is having an emergency to come and get the help they need.
GBMC has many safety measures in place, including, but not limited to, extensive cleaning in between patients and throughout the day, temperature screenings at entrances, requiring visitors and staff to wear masks, and more. Every employee at GBMC who has direct patient interaction wears full personal protective equipment to protect themselves and the patients they care for. For non-emergent health issues, GBMC offers telehealth video visits to all patients.
GBMC tests all patients scheduled to have elective surgeries for COVID-19 in a separate building on its campus before their procedure. This prevents patients who may have contracted the virus from coming to the hospital and potentially spreading it to others.
Many are concerned about a second wave of COVID-19, but Dr. Chessare assured listeners that GBMC is still on full alert and prepared to handle a spike in cases. “We are standing ready if the number of cases starts going back up,” he explained. He encouraged people to continue following public health safety measures such as physical distancing and hand washing to prevent further spread of the virus. He also expressed that while people need to remain diligent, they should not be “over-afraid” if they follow all of the safety precautions.
It’s impossible to predict the full impact of people putting off their care, but GBMC is proactively working to minimize the negative consequences. “We don’t want to wait for research to determine the additional negative health effects of COVID-19,” said Dr. Chessare. “We want to be in action now to prevent these outcomes from happening.” Particularly concerning is the postponement of children’s vaccinations and screening procedures like colonoscopies. Getting behind on vaccinations may cause future outbreaks of other illnesses and putting off screenings can make it much more difficult to treat otherwise preventable diseases.
When asked what he wanted to tell the community, Dr. Chessare responded: “Thank you for maintaining physical distancing and washing your hands. We want people to know that they are safe at GBMC, in any of our GBMC Health Partners physician offices, and at Gilchrist. If you need help, please call us or come to the emergency department.”
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