While many things have changed in our world, one thing has not changed — our commitment to your health and safety while in our Baptist Health facilities.
As we emerge from the initial wave of COVID-19 and move into a maintenance phase of the pandemic, there is a shift from population-level restrictions — like travel bans and stay at home orders — to individual responsibility for safe and healthy behaviors. As our society opens back up at a public level, it is all the more important that we all do our part to protect ourselves and you from COVID-19.
We are starting to see more activity in our hospitals. In order for you to feel safe about your visit, we wanted to share what we are doing to protect you as well as our staff. We are closely following the Arkansas Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as we evaluate and plan for additional changes. Baptist Health will continue to meet your healthcare needs in whatever way is appropriate and comfortable for you.
You’ve heard the term PPE a lot over the past few months. PPE stands for personal protective equipment. There are various types of PPE that we have available to us here at Baptist Health.
There are ear loop masks and surgical masks that tie. There are a variety of N95 masks, which are also called respirators. In addition, we have face shields, eye goggles, and various gowns and gloves — all to protect our caregivers and our patients and families.
The CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health have stated that face masks should be worn by everyone in public, especially when it’s not possible to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between people. We want our hospitals to be even safer than the average public space, so face masks are the standard for safety at our facilities.
Visitor and Employee Health Screenings
When you enter one of our facilities, all visitors and employees are checked daily for any health changes. We ask screening questions about your travel, if you are experiencing any symptoms such as a cough or cold, or if you have been around anyone that is COVID-19 positive.
We also will take your temperature, as we do for all of our staff members every time they enter the hospital.
We require all of our staff to wear face masks and/or face shields. And, to protect your health, we will ask you to wear a mask. Whether you are a patient or a caregiver with a patient — if you are outside of the hospital room, you are required to wear a mask. And if you are in the patient’s room while they are receiving care from our staff, you will need to wear your mask.
You will be provided a mask if you don’t have one. We also have hand sanitizer to use as needed.
Disinfection and Social Distancing
In addition to PPE and proper hand hygiene, we have taken many other precautions to keep you safe.
We clean all surfaces after every patient encounter, including counters, tables, desks and any area in which you or our staff may have had contact. We place potential COVID-19 patients in special isolation rooms that prevent the spread of potential disease. The negative pressure rooms protect our caregivers and other patients.
Since COVID-19 we have limited visitors in our facilities. And as a result of limiting visitors, we are seeing decreased infections. To control social distancing, we have closed most of our hospital waiting rooms as well as common areas to limit numbers of people in one area.
In addition, we perform full disinfection of surfaces. This is done through the use of EPA-approved, hospital-grade disinfectants that are applied to surfaces to kill germs and then removed by using microfiber cloths. As an extra layer of safety, we also have chemical vapor processes that will penetrate into areas that are not reachable by normal processes to kill germs. To verify results, we have special high tech instruments that indicate if a surface has been properly disinfected.
Epic is the electronic medical record that we use across our system. This technology allows for rapid access to all of your medical records, including lab data, not just from all Baptist Health facilities, but from other Epic affiliated sights. It has many features, such as built-in interactive software to improve patient medication safety. When patients are discharged, you will receive meaningful discharge instructions. It tells you what is expected to optimize your recovery. For caregivers it shows us the most current, evidence-based practice recommendations, so they can stay current on many of the rapidly evolving areas of medicine like COVID-19.
As a reminder, if you are having an emergency, please go to the emergency department. If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, do not wait to go to the ER. We will keep you safe. Temperatures and screening for symptoms will happen upon entry. We provide care in respiratory symptom-free zones. We have special training and protective equipment for all staff, there are enhanced and more frequent cleaning procedures, and masks are provided to everyone.
Our hospitals have never been safer than they are right now. If you need to be seen, do not hesitate to come to the emergency department. Delaying care for emergencies can impact your outcomes. Thank you for being adaptable to this stage of managing the pandemic. And thank you for wearing a mask, maintaining proper hand hygiene, and practicing social distancing. We want Baptist Health to set the standard for healthcare safety.