A new kind of normal; resuming our services during the COVID-19 pandemic

John Yanes

To say the last few weeks have been tough on us all would be a strong understatement. We have all been greatly affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and each of us has taken measures to protect ourselves, our families, friends and loved ones. This has been an unprecedented time, and like you, our health care system has taken measures to ensure that we continue to be prepared to protect our health care workers and provide patients with the safest care.

One of the toughest challenges we have faced as a health care system was having to temporarily pause routine patient care services and elective procedures. While we quickly adapted to a new world of virtual care services to ensure our patients still received timely and safe care, we understand this change had an impact on many members of our community, especially those needing ambulatory care services, such as diagnostic and cardiac imaging, radiology testing, mammography screening, cardiac rehabilitation or elective procedures like colonoscopies.

These are important services that patients need for pain management, to treat conditions or to prevent a condition from worsening, but you understood that temporarily hitting pause on them was in the best interest for your health. For that, we thank you.

We appreciate your understanding as we had to temporarily cancel or move appointments to virtual care, and for standing behind our health care workers as they worked, and continue to work, tirelessly to help fellow community members. You supported us as we, like many health care systems around the world, were forced to make changes. We are so fortunate to be part of a community that encourages one another.

Serving our community is our calling. With the governor's recent announcement for a gradual reopening of health care facilities, we look forward to once again offer all the services our community needs. We are getting back to what our mission calls us to do each day and helping our patients, community and each other.

While many of you may be hesitant about visiting your physician or resuming procedures at this time, your health should continue to be your top priority. Now is not the time to put off care. Your health and safety are our highest priority. We have added new precautions to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff members.

When you visit us, you will notice several new features in our facilities. All staff and patients are required to wear masks. Staff continue to be screened daily, including a temperature check. To help ensure the ability to observe social distancing, patients will register virtually before visiting our facilities and may be asked to wait in their vehicles until the time of their appointment. These tactics have already proved to be effective.

As we begin surgeries, each patient will be required to be tested for COVID-19 72-96 hours prior to their procedure. We will begin with the most urgent procedures as we will not be able to provide every service right away.

Restricted visitor policies at our hospitals and offices will continue, with a few exceptions, for the health and safety of our patients, staff and community. Virtual visits will also continue for those electing to seek care from home.

This pandemic may have transformed how we provide care, but it hasn't affected our calling to serve each and every one of you. This pandemic continues to strengthen our dedication to our community.

During this extraordinary time, we want you to know we are here for you and thank you for the support you have shown our health care facilities and staff members. You provided our teams with masks, face shields, meals, hand sanitizer, prayers and more, and these acts of kindness did not go unnoticed.

We are proud to be part of a wonderful community that supports its health care workers and thank you for your compassion shown to our team during this pandemic. We look forward to seeing you again soon as services resume and we begin returning to a new kind of normal.

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