- HCA Virginia has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases and for potential issues related to COVID-19. As part of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our resources to provide support and solutions to our patients, colleagues, and communities to meet the demands of this rapidly evolving situation.
- HCA Virginia began procuring additional personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gowns, face shields, N-95 respirators, and linens months ago. Colleagues responsible for care have been provided training on the safe, effective, and responsible use of PPE. We are continuing work to ensure HCA Virginia has adequate PPE and are implementing steps to converse our supply with the recognition that the COVID-19 epidemic is rapidly changing. Our hospitals have prioritized negative pressure rooms equipped to handle patients with airborne and droplet precautions consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidelines.
- HCA Virginia is continually evolving emergency preparedness and surge plans to meet the potential need.
- We continue to work in partnership with local and state health departments and the CDC for the health and safety of all those we serve.
- Our staff of exceptional physicians, experienced nurses, and staff continue to care for every type of medical need in our community.
HCA Virginia has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and we continue to work diligently to protect our colleagues, patients and visitors. Our COVID-19 preparedness efforts have included reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols and guidance from the CDC, ensuring we have necessary supplies and equipment, and emergency planning. Recently, we began segregating COVID-19 patients from other patients in our care. We are taking this practical step to help contain spread, conserve supplies of vital personal protective equipment and enhance our ability to handle a potential overflow of COVID-19 patients in our ERs, should the need arise.
- By locating COVID-19 patients in a focused environment, we can more effectively marshal the resources, equipment and expertise to care for COVID-19 patients.
- This will enable us to better protect our caregivers by facilitating allocation and deployment of personal protective equipment.
- This will also enable us to better protect our patients by facilitating allocation and deployment of essential medical equipment like respirators.
- The extra level of triage also protects patients who are visiting the ER for unrelated symptoms, keeping our ERs fully operational and functional.
We continue to reinforce infection prevention protocols and work in partnership with local and state health departments and the CDC. We will provide updates to our hospitals and medical staff as necessary. We ask that anyone worried that they have COVID-19 to seek care in the most appropriate setting. If you have mild symptoms, contact your physician or go to an urgent care center. If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, go to your local hospital's emergency department. No matter where you go, please call ahead so your site of care can prepare for your arrival and take actions to avoid exposing other patients or staff.
As the threat from the COVID-19 virus is amplified, so too are our efforts. Here are just a few of the steps we are taking to assure uninterrupted care:
- We're limiting entry into hospitals and clinics so anyone who enters into patient care areas can be carefully screened, and masks can be provided to those who need them.
- Every employee, caregiver, and physician has been asked to follow a self-screening procedure, because protecting our patients starts with protecting our people.
- Precautions taken to treat patients with COVID-19 are similar to those taken to treat patients with influenza, with restricted visitation to limit exposure. This is commonplace procedure for us during any flu season.
- As always, cleaning to prevent the spread of infection is occurring throughout all of our care sites.
- We are providing care to patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization. These patients are cared for in isolated areas of the hospitals, so we can safely provide continuous care for all other medical needs.
We’ve implemented additional steps to combat COVID-19. All staff and providers in all patient care areas will now wear masks, expanding their use beyond suspected or positive COVID-19 cases. This initiative will increase the protection of staff, healthcare providers, patients, and others in our hospitals.
Masks will be optional only for staff in non-patient care areas who can consistently maintain social distancing of at least six feet during brief interactions with colleagues. All visitors and patients presenting for outpatient testing will also be required to wear masks.
Our top priority is protecting our patients, clinicians, nurses, and colleagues so we can best serve our communities throughout this pandemic. We are taking this step now because of evidence that social distancing, while a key strategy for interrupting the spread of coronavirus, is difficult to maintain in the busy patient care environment.
The latest analysis indicates that we have ample personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies available to meet the demand for additional use of masks pursuant to this new policy. Even though we have adequate supplies of PPE, we will continue to take steps to conserve it, including reuse and reprocessing of PPE where appropriate.
Professionals in our supply chain have continually worked with epidemiologists and data scientists to track use and anticipated demand of PPE so stock can be allocated appropriately. Our staff is also working around the clock to safeguard existing supplies and secure additional shipments.
Personal protective equipment
HCA Virginia is doing everything we can to equip our patient care teams to provide safe, effective care during this unprecedented crisis. This pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields, and gowns, as COVID-19 cases and utilization of PPE exceed the ability of suppliers to manufacture PPE. These circumstances require a thoughtful, pragmatic approach that considers the safety of our colleagues and the wellbeing of our patients.
HCA Virginia currently has adequate supplies of PPE, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure we continue to have enough to protect our colleagues as they provide care to patients. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are taking prudent steps now to conserve PPE because we do not know what our future needs will be.
HCA Virginia has an assigned clinician that is solely responsible for overseeing PPE inventory and stewardship, and we have deployed dedicated teams of educators, infection prevention experts, and nurse leaders to provide support. We are following CDC protocols for the reuse of certain PPE and we are asking our colleagues to conserve these items by following, but not exceeding, the guidelines for infection prevention. We are allowing the use of both N95 masks and standard facemasks. The evidence suggests that COVID-19 is spread by droplets, for which a standard face mask offers adequate protection.
We continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve.
As of March 25, 2020, Virginia's Governor issued an executive order prohibiting the performance of elective surgeries and procedures in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement of procedures, which we have already begun, will assist in preserving supplies, resources, and blood products for future patient needs.
We will postpone all non-urgent or non-emergent procedures until after April 24, 2020.
To ensure the hospitals are in compliance with the executive order and that we maintain surgical capabilities for urgent or emergent cases, we have established a standard protocol in collaboration with our medical staff to review surgeries and procedures that if delayed or canceled would result in the patient's condition worsening.
We will continue to evaluate our hospitals’ resources such as PPE and ICU bed availability and make adjustments to this approach if contingency or crisis standards of care need to be implemented based on a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Employee safety and security
Colleagues, medical staff/caregivers, and vendors/contractors entering the buildings will be asked standard screening questions:
- Do you have a fever OR cough OR shortness of breath, OR difficulty breathing?
- Have you been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- If "YES" - colleagues, medical staff/caregivers, and vendors/contractors will not be permitted to enter the facility and will be given further direction.
- If "NO" - colleagues, medical staff/caregivers, and vendors/contractors' temperature will be checked:
- Those with temperatures > 100.4°F will not be allowed in the facility and will be given further direction.
- All HCA Virginia colleagues are monitoring their health and have attested to follow the HCA Healthcare policy on Communicable Disease Preparation, which attests that colleagues that report to work, by entering the facilities, attest that they do not have symptoms of a contagious illness.
- Additionally, all colleagues must complete hand hygiene with alcohol-based sanitizer.
HCA Virginia continues to plan to ensure we have the capacity, staffing, supplies, and equipment needed as the situation continues to evolve.
Interested candidates can learn more about hiring opportunities for nurses or join a virtual job fair on HCA Healthcare's website.
For the safety of our volunteers, we have suspended our volunteer program at this time.
HIPAA and patient condition updates
As caregivers, we have a responsibility to protect patient and colleague privacy and are bound by HIPAA regulations regarding the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI). We can only provide a current patient condition update when a specific patient name is provided.
COVID–19 National Response Portal
The COVID–19 National Response Portal is intended to enable healthcare providers across the country to safely share and display anonymous, aggregated metrics from hospital systems into a single platform to show a complete and real-time view of the COVID–19 pandemic. Data can be submitted each day from hospital systems across the United States and will be focused on metrics such as ICU bed supply and utilization; ventilator supply and utilization; total numbers of positive, negative, and pending COVID–19 test results; and total numbers of healthy patients who have been discharged. The platform will also have the ability to leverage publicly available datasets, such as data on local shelter-in-place policies, and traffic or mobility patterns, to help shed light on how public behaviors and policies may impact the spread of COVID–19.
HCA Virginia’s hospitals and doctors are experienced – continuously learning the latest procedures and performing them enough to become experts in their fields. These experts, paired with the latest in advanced technology and the best healthcare facilities in the region, are dedicated to prolonging and improving the quality life.
Remote Monitoring Tool
HCA Healthcare Telehealth Services has worked with key stakeholders to support the COVID-19 response. We launched the VivifyGo remote screening and monitoring app, which allows colleagues and patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 to maintain secure, real-time access to healthcare professionals. This app allows us to virtually monitor and support symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, while limiting exposure to patients, staff, and others.
Employees and patients are prompted by the app to update their symptoms twice a day and are monitored by a care team who intervenes, as requested by the patient, or as the result of a change in condition. The monitoring lasts for 14 days, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Patients who have been tested and treated in our ER facilities and who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not showing symptoms, are also given the opportunity to opt-in to the VivifyGo app and participate in the monitoring program.
This program is another example of HCA Healthcare initiatives that support clinical efforts in all facilities and which helps preserve limited supplies of personal protective equipment.