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Coronavirus Update and Health System Preparations

5/26/2020

Updated May 26, 2020


Testing and Confirmed Cases  
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/26/20:

  • 74 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 20 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • 10 who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 576 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 6,783 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 106 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 30 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

 

COVID Inpatient Numbers on the Rise

Last Friday at 3:20 p.m., DCH reported 41* inpatients being treated for COVID-19, and today we are reporting 74. Following is a brief summary of what we believe are the main contributing factors.

The first factor to consider is the long weekend. If you look back at prior weekends on the trend line, there is usually a bit of an increase the first few days of the week following. In part, this is because of more limited lab time on the weekend, resulting in many tests coming back at once vs. a continual flow like you see during the rest of the week.

Another related component is a recent increase in those requesting tests. Last Wednesday 189 specimens were collected at the remote testing site. The weeks prior were resulting in daily numbers in the 50­­-70 range.

Finally, some area facilities with many residents in close quarters are starting to have individuals test positive for COVID-19. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are caring for some of the most at-risk individuals due to age and other health factors. Most of these facilities are requiring two negative test results from specimens taken more than 24 hours apart before discharge. While this caution is certainly understandable, it is causing a strain on hospital capacity as individuals who may otherwise be well enough to go home have to wait for a second result.

What does this mean for capacity? The most difficult rooms to source are ICU rooms, so they are a good measure of the current capacity. Between DCH Regional Medical Center (RMC) and Northport Medical Center, there are normally 72 ICU rooms. Eighteen additional rooms at RMC have been adapted for ICU use as needed. In total, that is up to 90 ICU beds that could be put into use at any given time. As of this morning, DCH had a total of 73 ICU rooms being used by patients including COVID-19 positive patients.

* The daily report for last Friday was run at 3:20 p.m., and at that time there were 41 inpatients with COVID-19. Today’s chart shows 36 for last Friday because that is how many were being treated by the end of the day (11:59 p.m.) on May 22.

 





May 25, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases

To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 2:20 p.m. on 5/25/20:

  • 63 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
  • 18 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
  • Eight who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
  • 561 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 6,719 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.
  • 106 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.
  • 29 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 



Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).




May 22, 2020

Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/22/20:

  • 41 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 482 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 6,257 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 102 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 27 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

Visitation Policy Update  
Governor Kay Ivey announced yesterday some updates to The Safer at Home Order. The updated order goes into effect today at 5 p.m. and can be read here https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2020/05/Safer-at-Home-Order-FINAL-5.21.2020.pdf  Items 16 and 17 in the order pertain to medical facilities and have little or no change since the last update to the order. Therefore DCH’s limited visitation policy remains in force with only a slight modification. Now up to two healthy and screened visitors can be present for end-of-life events or consultations.

Fayette Medical Center’s Nursing Home is still closed to all visitors. Patients should not leave their care area to go outside to visit with others. All visitors must be healthy, wear a mask and submit to a screening including a temperature check. Within the guidelines provided by the state, DCH is updating its temporary visitation policy as follows for all of its campuses:

  • One visitor per outpatient cancer treatment patient for the initial consultation only.

  • One visitor per outpatient cancer treatment patient for treatment (only if the patient is insufficiently healthy or not mobile enough to proceed without assistance; otherwise, no visitors).

  • One visitor per maternity patient.

  • One visitor per NICU patient.

  • One parent/guardian can accompany a pediatric (18 or younger) patient.

  • Up to two visitors per patient for end-of-life events or consultations.

  • One private sitter per patient if the sitter is deemed to be truly needed to contribute to the patient’s care.

  • Any visitor must be screened and found to be healthy and at least 16 years old.

  • No visitors for procedures (cardiac cath., endoscopy, emergency/urgent surgery, etc.). A designated point of contact should be provided, by the family, and placed on the chart. This is in case the nurses or the physician need to contact someone during the procedure or share an update following a procedure. The perioperative staff will reach out to the point of contact to arrange a pickup or for other details.

  • No other visitors will be allowed.

Calls or video chats should be used for situations such as visits or family/caregiver education.

Revised Screening Site Hours  
DCH will expand its screening service hours after Memorial Day to be open every weekday. At this time the site will remain closed on weekends, but if the demand continues to increase, that may be modified.

Next week the site will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day (May 25), but will be open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. The following week, and for the foreseeable future, the site will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

The most up-to-date hours of operation for the remote screening site will be maintained at www.dchsystem.com/remotescreening.

 
May 21, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/21/20:

  • 34 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 11 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 452 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 6,096 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 98 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 26 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).


Transforming Shirts for a Good Cause 

   
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the community has come through for DCH time and again. The outpouring of support has been both gratifying and humbling as people have donated their time, talents and materials to help out. And the creativity of some of those donations has been incredibly impressive.

We have talked a lot about masks and soon will share some details on the impact community masks have made, but here is a short story of an unusual contribution that has made a big difference in the mask-making effort.

JNJ Apparel makes custom-printed t-shirts. Sometimes the first few shirts don’t look just right, or they print a few extra. Whatever the reason, JNJ has held on to the extras. When they heard of our need they donated 537 of them.         

What do T-shirts have to do with masks? As it turns out, a one-inch wide strip of T-shirt fabric makes a comfortable and easy-to-manufacture mask tie. All you have to do is make a few little cuts in the shirt, then tear, and the tie is ready to be attached to the mask.

JNJ Apparel’s donation has produced thousands of mask ties for DCH. Thank you!

May 20, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/20/20:

  • 34 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 10 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 428 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 5,905 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 97 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 24 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).


Revised Screening Site Hours 
DCH has closely monitored the number of individuals who have come for COVID-19 screening and testing at its remote site in the Laundry Lot just west of DCH Regional Medical Center. The volume was on a gradual decline, so hours at the site had been reduced. However, in the past few days, the numbers have gone from 50-60 a day to closer to 150 per day.

Because of this increased need, DCH will expand its screening service hours after Memorial Day to be open every weekday. At this time the site will remain closed on weekends, but if the demand continues to increase, that may be modified.

Next week the site will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day (May 25), but will be open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. The following week, and for the foreseeable future, the site will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

The most up-to-date hours of operation for the remote screening site will be maintained at www.dchsystem.com/remotescreening.

May 19, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/19/20:

  • 34 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 13 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 411 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 5,777 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 92 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 23 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH. 




Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).





May 18, 2020
 
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/18/20:

  • 33 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Nine inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 400 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 5,613 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 87 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 22 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

Inpatient Elective Procedures to Resume
Beginning Tuesday, May 19, at Northport Medical Center and Friday, May 22, at DCH Regional Medical Center, inpatient elective procedures (those people who are generally expected to remain hospitalized for more than one night) may be scheduled and performed. Unless already hospitalized, those patients will go through the current elective procedures process, including COVID-19 testing, prior to proceeding. 

Due to current extended lengths of stay for COVID-19 positive patients and Patients Under Investigation (PUIs), patients for whom a COVID-19 test has been ordered and the result is pending, the bed capacity for elective procedures remains limited and continues to be assessed daily.

Should procedural capacity become a challenge due to limited bed availability or other supply issues, scheduled elective cases may have to be postponed and posting of new elective cases delayed. 

We know there are many out there who need these procedures, and we are working hard to make them possible. We thank our physicians, staff and community for their patience as we seek to provide the safest, best care possible for our patients.

For now, DCH’s limited visitation policy remains the same. The most up-to-date version can be found here.

 
May 15, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 1:20 p.m. on 5/15/20:

  • 30 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
  • Nine inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
  • 357 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 5,222 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.
  • 76 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 22 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

 

Help Others by Donating Blood 
Consider giving back to your community by donating blood next week at DCH Regional Medical Center.

The LifeSouth bloodmobile will be parked from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, on the north side of the DCH RMC campus. Hospitals, including DCH Health System, are experiencing blood shortages.

LifeSouth has assured the community that it is safe to donate blood during the coronavirus outbreak. If you are in good health, please donate to help boost the blood supply in our community.  

Memorial Day Closing for Screening Tent  
The remote screening site will be closed for Memorial Day, May 25. It will be open from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, Wednesday, May 27, and Friday, May 29.

The remote screening service is in the Laundry Lot just west of DCH Regional Medical Center.

Parade for Fayette Long Term Care Residents  

DCH’s Fayette Medical Center is home to a Long Term Care facility. Very early on, leadership at Fayette’s LTC decided to close the doors to visitors in an effort to protect the residents. The strategy seems to have worked as so far none of the residents or staff have tested positive for COVID-19. However, this means the residents haven’t been able to see their friends and families.

Today, the LTC facility hosted a drive-through parade. Residents sat up near windows, and family, friends and employees drove by (some in decorated cars) honking and waving.

Nearly 80 vehicles participated in the parade, which included local government officials. “We had a huge turnout. It was a tremendous success,” said Theresa Dumpson, activity coordinator for the facility. Below are photos from the event.




May 14, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

DCH internal counts as of 1:20 p.m. on 5/14/20:

  • 27 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Nine inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 350 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 5,172 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 74 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 21 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).


Lassoing the Moon 
Tuesday’s update included comments from Beth Goodall, DCH’s director of epidemiology. One of her thoughts was, “I will never forget saying early on, ‘I think if I asked for the moon, someone would help me lasso it!’” As it turns out, DCH has a team that has become pretty adept at moon lassoing.

Normally, DCH’s Facilities Engineering Department is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and grounds. That means the department is made up of individuals who are skilled at plumbing, electrical, construction and generally fixing or building just about anything. It also means they are exceptionally well suited to adapting to the needs of a crisis.

You need a parking lot restriped and a tent erected? No problem. You now need cars to be able to drive into the tent? On it. Signs? We will have them by tomorrow morning.

“They are all very talented and have big hearts,” said David Roberts, corporate director of construction and engineering at DCH, when talking of his team.

“To be in this type of work you need to be good at problem solving, have a great work ethic and a desire to help others,” said Brad Castleberry, director of construction and engineering at DCH Regional Medical Center. “Even before COVID, their jobs entailed fixing, installing and generally doing whatever was needed.”

DCH normally has about a dozen negative pressure isolation rooms (the room’s airflow is independent of the mail hospital’s airflow). Early on, when the DCH COVID Response Team identified the need to quickly expand that capacity to safely isolate and care for large numbers of suspected or positive COVID-19 patients, they turned to Facilities Engineering.

Before long, the team had a solution. They reached out to their vendor partners and ordered about 80 portable HEPA filtration systems that are normally used for construction. While they waited for the air scrubbers to arrive, they removed windows and in their place installed exhaust ducting. They also cut holes in the doors and installed Plexiglas so that providers could check in without entering. In all, they converted about 45 rooms and have the materials to nearly double that if needed.

“Once we came up with a plan, we converted about a dozen rooms in less than 24 hours,” said Jason Abernathy, engineering compliance manager.

We were able to get Abernathy (right in the photo) and Jeff Oswalt (left), facility manager, (both were part of the isolation room project) to slow down long enough to have their picture taken next to one of the temporary setups. However, soon after they quietly slipped away to handle the next project.

Thank you to the entire Facilities Engineering team for continually finding ways to lasso the moon for DCH.

May 13, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/13/20:

  • 23 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Seven inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 330 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,982 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 73 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 21 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

 COVID-19; How it May Impact the 2020 Census, and Why You Should Care
In-person visits by Census takers are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Completing the questionnaire online ensures you are counted now. Why should you care? Read on for details.

It’s a questionnaire that only takes about 10 minutes to complete. But that brief action can have a huge impact on our local community and state, including funding for health care programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

The Census, conducted every 10 years, is a snapshot of our nation — who we are and where we live.

The results determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

In the future, lawmakers, business owners and others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools and clinics, new roads and more services for families, older adults and children.

Census results affect planning and funding for health care including programs such as Medicaid, Medicare Part B, State Children’s Health Insurance, the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, and block grants for community mental health services.

The Census affects the lives of all U.S. citizens, including Alabamians. So if you haven’t already, please complete the U.S. 2020 Census. Your information and privacy are protected. You can fill out the questionnaire here: https://my2020census.gov/.

 

May 12, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 5/12/20:

  • 26 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Eight inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 324 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,947 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 71 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 21 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.


Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

In the Middle of It All 
Beth Goodall is a registered nurse and spent part of her career providing direct patient care. Eventually, however, her talents and interests led her to become DCH’s epidemiology director.

Epidemiology is defined by Merriam-Webster as the branch of medicine dealing with “the incidence, distribution, and control of disease in a population.” For everyone at DCH, Goodall, Dr. Albert White and their team represent so much more. Right now, in the dramatic upheaval caused by COVID-19, the Epidemiology team has been the calm voice in the storm and the decipherers of ever-changing recommendations. They are the team that seems to be everywhere answering questions, helping resolve issues and working to make the safest possible environment for employees and patients.  

Today is the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale and the final day of National Nurses Week 2020. Nightingale is often referred to as the founder of modern nursing and, like Goodall, spent much of her career developing cleaner, safer conditions for the delivery of care.

In recognition of Nightingale and nurses everywhere, here are a few thoughts from Goodall on what she has seen and experienced during the past few months.

“It has certainly been a unique time in my nursing career!” said Goodall. “Not one that I would have ever anticipated as a possible reality, but perhaps one to prepare for in theory. If anyone would have ever presented a scenario where health care leaders would [be figuring out] how to make face masks, how to quickly convert ordinary patient rooms and [even] entire units into critical care areas with protective airflow, how to safely reuse PPE for days, how to pitch tents in a parking lot to extend services beyond our walls, I would be sure it was only a dream. 

“I would have called it a nightmare had I not lived the reality of seeing so many people come together for the greater good of others, pushing themselves to the limit, and beyond, of their knowledge and talents. I will never forget saying early on, ‘I think if I asked for the moon, someone would help me lasso it!’ 

“I really get emotional thinking about all of the people who have helped me, DCH, and our patients. I am humbled to be included in the celebration of Nurses Week, as we live through this difficult time of COVID-19. I could not be more proud to be even a small part of the health care team at DCH.”

To all the nurses out there, we sincerely thank you for providing the competence and compassion that are so needed at this time. Happy Nurses Week!

908th Airlift Wing Flyover
Today the 908th Airlift Wing, Alabama’s only U.S. Air Force Reserve Wing, conducted a flyover of DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center in honor of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response effort. Two C-130 Hercules transport planes flew over at about 11:40 a.m. Included in today’s update is a short video.

Thanks 908th Airlift Wing for the honor, we appreciate your service as well!

May 11, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases  
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 2:20 p.m. on 5/11/20:

 

 

 

 

  • 30 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Nine inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Six who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 318 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,931 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 69 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 20 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.


Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

908th Airlift Wing to Conduct Flyover of DCH Tomorrow 
The 908th Airlift Wing, Alabama’s only U.S. Air Force Reserve Wing, will conduct a flyover of DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center in honor of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response effort. Two C-130 Hercules transport planes will fly over tomorrow, May 12, between 11:40 and 11:50 a.m. See the route in the included photo.

 

 

 

“We wanted to show our support for all of the great Alabamians doing everything they can in this fight against COVID19,” explained Col. Craig Drescher, commander of the 908th Airlift Wing. We continue to hear all these amazing stories of people stepping up and going above and beyond their civic duty and we wanted to find a way to say thank you.”

 

The best way for the 908th to say thank you was to find a way to incorporate the thank you into already scheduled training missions.

 

“We have members from all over the state, so we wanted to find a way to say thank you to the state and not just our home base city of Montgomery,” said Drescher.

The two-plane formation will fly over the following cities in this order: Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Muscle Shoals, Florence, Decatur, Huntsville, Birmingham, Auburn, Troy, and Selma.

 

What is a C-130 Hercules? It is a huge transport plane. Take a look at the included photo courtesy of the 908th Airlift Wing.

Thank you to the 908th for doing this! #HercsOverAlabama #AirForceSalutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







May 8, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases  
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

DCH internal counts as of 11:20 a.m. on 5/8/20:

  • 30 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
  • 300 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 4,625 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.
  • 64 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.
  • 15 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).




Screening Weekend Hours

 


DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center has had very low volumes on Saturdays. This past Saturday only nine specimens were collected for testing. Because of this, the screening site will be closed this Saturday and Sunday. Next week the service will be available Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. If volumes go back up, then adjustments will be made to accommodate the need.




May 7, 2020

Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCH internal counts as of 4:20 p.m. on 5/7/20:

  • 34 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 14 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Seven who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 295 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,467 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 60 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 13 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

The chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations has been undergoing some back end maintenance. It will be posted again with tomorrow’s update.

Screening Weekend Hours 
DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center has had very low volumes on Saturdays. This past Saturday only nine specimens were collected for testing. Because of this, the screening site will be closed this Saturday and Sunday. Next week the service will be available Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. If volumes go back up, then adjustments will be made to accommodate the need.

Visitation Policy Revision  
The Safer at Home Order issued by the state remains in effect until at least May 15, which means DCH’s limited visitation policy remains in force with only a slight modification. Now a healthy parent or guardian can accompany a pediatric patient, 18 years old or younger.

You can view the state’s order at https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2020/04/Safer-At-Home-Order-Signed-4.28.20.pdf. Sections 11 and 12 specify requirements for hospitals. Below is DCH’s updated temporary visitation policy.

Fayette Medical Center’s Nursing Home is still closed to all visitors. Patients should not leave their care area to go outside to visit with others. Within the guidelines provided by the state, DCH is updating its temporary visitation policy as follows for all of its campuses:

  • One visitor per outpatient cancer treatment patient for the initial consultation only.

  • One visitor per outpatient cancer treatment patient for treatment (only if the patient is insufficiently healthy or not mobile enough to proceed without assistance; otherwise, no visitors).

  • One visitor per maternity patient.

  • One visitor per NICU patient.

  • One parent/guardian can accompany a pediatric (18 or younger) patient.

  • One visitor per patient for end-of-life events.

  • One private sitter per patient if the sitter is deemed to be truly needed to contribute to the patient’s care.

  • Any visitor must be screened and found to be healthy and at least 16 years old.

  • No visitors for procedures (cardiac cath., endoscopy, emergency/urgent surgery, etc.). A designated point of contact should be provided, by the family, and placed on the chart. This is in case the nurses or the physician need to contact someone during the procedure or share an update following a procedure. The perioperative staff will reach out to the point of contact to arrange a pickup or for other details.

  • No other visitors will be allowed.

Calls or video chats should be used for situations such as visits or family/caregiver education.

May 6, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases

To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 12:20 p.m. on 5/6/20:

  • 35 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 15 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 285 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,334 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 58 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 13 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

Screening Weekend Hours  
DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center has had very low volumes on Saturdays. This past Saturday only nine specimens were collected for testing. Because of this, the screening site will be closed this Saturday and Sunday. Next week the service will be available Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. If volumes go back up, then adjustments will be made to accommodate the need.

Supporting the Group 
Many migratory birds fly in a v-shaped formation. Scientists have found a few reasons for this, but one stands out; it helps to conserve energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of her, which reduces wind resistance. The lead bird moves to the back when she gets tired, and another comes forward to take on the extra effort for a while. They work as a team and sustain each other.

Lisa Heravi, RN, shared this analogy to describe how it has been working in the ICU, with other areas, and on a larger scale within DCH over the past few months.

“I was thinking about how the days have been here and how we have all truly gone the distance dealing with not only COVID-19, but the overall [challenges] of sharing our units, working with new nurses, and dealing with multiple overall changes,” Heravi said. “We have worked as a unit and have not missed a step. Our nursing leaders have paved a way ahead of the challenges. I'm just so proud of what I have personally witnessed.”

Pictured are members of the combined Trauma/Surgical ICU and CICU unit in which Heravi works. They are standing in a v-formation to represent supporting each other through the journey.

Ice Cream, Cookies and a Movie 
In honor of National Nurses Week, May 6-12, and National Hospital Week, May 10-16, ice cream was offered to employees at all three campuses. In addition, Optum Infusion Pharmacy and Amedisys Home Health had 1,100 cookies from Celebrations Bakery delivered to Northport Medical Center (thank you!). A video slideshow of nurses was also produced and shared on the hospital’s intranet.

May 5, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 1:20 p.m. on 5/5/20:

  • 32 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 14 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Six who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 273 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,173 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 57 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 13 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

 

Nurses Week and Hospital Week
E
very year in May, DCH celebrates the hard work of staff in serving our patients through two special weeks. With everyone pulling together during the COVID-19 outbreak, marking these weeks seems even more appropriate.

Normally DCH would celebrate in a variety of ways including group events but under the current circumstances some of that is not possible. So, with the help of a generous donation from Paragon HM Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, DCH will be handing out pre-packaged ice cream to employees at all three DCH campuses tomorrow and recognition efforts are being planned for a week in October. DCH appreciates its employees for all they do every day!

If you know any healthcare workers, now might be a good time to reach out and let them know how much you appreciate them. National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and National Hospital Week is May 10-16.

187th Fighter Wing Conducts Flyover of DCH
The 187th Fighter Wing conducted a flyover of DCH Regional Medical Center earlier today. The flyover was part of “Operation Air Force Salutes” which is designed to recognize frontline heroes in the hospitals who are treating patients with COVID-19. For those who missed it, a short video is included with today’s update.

May 4, 2020

Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 1:20 p.m. on 5/4/20:

  • 29 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Seven who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 264 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 4,110 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 55 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 11 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

 

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

187th Fighter Wing to Conduct Flyover of DCH Tomorrow 
Tomorrow, May 5, the 187th Fighter Wing will conduct a flyover of the VA Medical Center and DCH Regional Medical Center. The flyover is part of “Operation Air Force Salutes” which is designed to recognize frontline heroes in the hospitals who are treating patients with COVID-19. Two of the unit’s F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft are expected to pass over the medical centers between noon and 12:10 p.m. tomorrow.

The wing’s fighter squadron is descended from the 100th Fighter Squadron, the distinguished Tuskegee Airmen from World War II. The 187th Fighter Wing is nicknamed the “Redtails” as the tails of some of the aircraft are painted red in tribute to that heritage and how those airmen painted their planes.

Thank you, heroes of the 187th, for honoring health care heroes!

Photo courtesy of the 187th Fighter Wing.

Graduating High School and College Seniors on Billboards Starting Tomorrow  
Starting tomorrow, the graduating high school and college seniors of DCH employees will appear in social media and on billboards around Tuscaloosa.  Over 100 DCH parents of graduating seniors submitted photos of their children to be displayed. Because of the response, DCH had to secure additional billboard time and the DCH Foundation was able to get still more (THANK YOU, DCH Foundation!).

Space is too limited for us to be able to showcase every senior in the area; we wish we could. We hope you know, however, that we are proud of all of our local seniors and their accomplishments!

 

May 1, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCH internal counts as of 11:20 a.m. on 5/1/20:

  • 29 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Fewer than five who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 248 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 3,855 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 50 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • 10 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

BFGoodrich Donates Masks to DCH 
DCH uses thousands of masks every day. Commercially made masks for frontline providers are in high demand across the globe as their protective properties are known and tested. The community-sewn masks have become an essential part in DCH’s strategy to conserve the commercially made masks for direct patient care. Yet, DCH’s supply of commercially made masks has continued to dwindle.

 
Tim Haynes (left), BF Goodrich, Molly Ingram, DCH Foundation, Concetta Odongo and Julie Bowen, BF Goodrich, and Bryan Kindred, DCH Health System, after loading 35,000 masks into the DCH Supply Chain van to be taken to the health system for use.
Earlier today, BFGoodrich, an operating division of Michelin North America, Inc., provided a significant boost to DCH by donating 35,000 masks!

This donation is part of an effort to provide support during the pandemic to the communities where Michelin North America operates. The company is donating 700,000 masks to hospitals, medical facilities and essential businesses with a critical need for these supplies.

DCH is enormously grateful to be one of the recipients of these much needed masks!

April 30, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 1:20 p.m. on 4/30/20:

  • 30 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
  • Seven inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
  • 240 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 3,717 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.
  • 48 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.
  • Eight inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.




Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).


Sewing Volunteers

 
Wendi Parminter (red mask), director of Volunteer Services at DCH, Maggie Turner (light blue mask), a volunteer and a graduating senior of the University of Alabama, and Goldie Franklin (dark blue mask), a regular DCH volunteer. Franklin looks on as Parminter teaches Turner how to sew her first mask.
Under normal circumstances, DCH is run with the assistance of a whole host of volunteers. These faithful individuals are usually the people who greet you at the reception desk, but they can also be seen filling roles in areas across the organization. During certain times of the year, many of the volunteers are college students seeking experience in certain areas, but we also have retirees or just  people with a little time to help out.

As the COVID-19 situation developed, DCH decided to be extra cautious and asked its volunteers to stay home. Now, a small group of volunteers is coming back to sew masks. At the moment, about a dozen existing volunteers and University of Alabama students have been working with DCH’s Volunteer Services to learn how to sew masks.

Six sewing machines were lent by community members for the project. They have been set up in a large conference area in the hospital, and training is nearly complete. The group plans to start production on cloth masks next week.

Masks produced from this effort will be primarily provided to non-clinical staff and community members who come in for an appointment or procedure. These masks will complement the efforts of community sewers who are producing the masks made from medical-grade sterilization fabric.

Thank you, volunteers!

April 29, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases

To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 2:20 p.m. on 4/29/20:

  • 30 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Six inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 237 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 3,689 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • 47 inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.

  • Eight inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

The total number of inpatients with COVID-19 went down as 6 were discharged since the last update. In addition, since DCH began tracking, 47 inpatients who were positive with COVID-19 have been discharged. This does not count ER visits where the person was well enough to go home without further hospitalization.

The chart system is undergoing some maintenance so only the numbers (for COVID cases) are being included today.

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested both in the state and at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

Same Day Surgeries
Governor Kay Ivey has stated that as of this Friday, May 1, hospitals in Alabama may resume elective medical and surgical procedures. In anticipation of this possibly happening, the DCH Health System has been, over the past few weeks, formulating plans for a measured resumption of elective procedures once allowed. Beginning this Friday, DCH will resume same day surgery procedures.

The availability of necessary resources, such as anesthetic medications, PPE, staffing capacity and surgical supplies will be monitored carefully during this gradual resumption of procedural services. Limitations in any of these areas, particularly any supply chain challenges, may necessitate reduction of services at any time, as would a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to the hospital.

As a safeguard, the results of a COVID-19 test will be obtained on each patient prior to proceeding with the surgery. In addition, the current no visitation policy and processes will remain in place for now.

New Mask Conservation Process
To further help extend our supply of masks for frontline workers, we are asking those who come to DCH for an appointment, Emergency Department care, or as a visitor to bring and wear their own face covering.

Following is a summary of the staff plan.

Starting this Monday, May 4, DCH staff members will no longer receive a mask upon entry. Those who do not have direct patient contact are being asked to wear cloth masks (many of which have been provided by the community).

Non-clinical staff members are being issued medical-grade sterilization wrap masks (which were also made by the community, thank you!). They are to wash them at home and reuse them until damaged, and then seek a new one.

Staff members in clinical areas, or who go into clinical areas, will also use sterilization wrap masks. However, these masks will not replace the N95 mask needed for patients in Airborne Precautions or for COVID-19 positive patients receiving aerosol-generating procedures. 

 

April 28, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 12:20 p.m. on 4/28/20:

  • 32 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Seven inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 228 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 3,592 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

  • Eight inpatients (cumulative) who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH.

As a reminder, in the dashboard a PUI is a “person under investigation” which means the individual has COVID-19 symptoms but a test result has not yet come back.

Also included is a chart showing the percent positive among those tested both in the state and at DCH locations. This chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today).

Respiratory Care on the Frontlines 
Nurses and doctors are often top of mind when people think about who’s on the frontlines of treating COVID-19 patients.

But with COVID-19 known to primarily affect the respiratory system, our respiratory therapists are key players in a patient’s fight to get well. They are at the bedside for intubations, arterial blood gas tests, suctioning secretions and other procedures, all in an effort to help the patient breathe better.

Read more about their frontline work here: https://bit.ly/2KImDXv

April 27, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases

To protect patient privacy, DCH has established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of 2:20 p.m. on 4/27/20:

  • 33 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
  • 15 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
  • Seven inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
  • 221 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 3,569 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

     



    On Sunday morning we were down to 29 inpatients with confirmed cases of COVID-19, 13 in the ICU and eight on ventilators. By Sunday night the numbers had gone back up again. In Friday’s report, we reported 33 individuals who were still waiting on test results. Today that number has gone down quite a bit, meaning many results came back and some patients who were thought to have the virus were confirmed with it. It continues to appear that we have not yet reached the peak at DCH.

    As a reminder, in the dashboard a PUI is a “person under investigation” which means the individual has COVID-19 symptoms but a test result has not yet come back.

    Included in today’s report is a new chart showing the percent positive among those tested both in the state and at DCH locations. Previously we shared an Excel chart of DCH’s testing only. In this version, some of the counts for DCH are a little higher than before, as this chart reflects totals by the end of each day (except today) versus data available at the time of reporting.




    Deaths of Those Infected with COVID-19

    As of today, seven inpatients who were positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH since we began tracking data related to the virus.

    There are a few things to understand about this announcement. First, the primary cause of death may not be COVID-19. Cases of individuals who pass away and had the virus are reported to the state for further investigation. Any deaths determined by the state to be directly caused by the virus will be included in the reports produced by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

    Second, DCH has patients from all over the state. The number above is a count among all inpatients regardless of the individual’s county of residence. If the state attributes a death to COVID-19, then the Alabama Department of Public Health will add to each county’s total as appropriate. This means DCH’s total will likely not correspond to the total deaths from COVID-19 in Tuscaloosa County.

    Friends and family of the deceased are grieving. This addition only comes after a thoughtful consideration of how to best protect patient and family privacy. Going forward this count will be included in the daily report as long as it appears to assist with public information and understanding of the severity of the situation.

    Wear a Mask or Face Covering

    The protective properties of commercially-made masks are tested and documented. Therefore DCH is striving to maintain a supply of commercially-made masks for those providing care to patients known to have or are suspected of having COVID-19. Suppliers continue to send what they can but the current usage rate is about five times what is coming in. At the current rate, DCH will run out of surgical masks in about 20 days.

    Those who come to DCH for an appointment, Emergency Department care, or as a visitor (if one of the few visitor exceptions allowed) are asked to bring and wear their own face covering. DCH staff not in contact with patients will also be asked to provide their own face covering or wear a mask as many days as possible until it becomes soiled or damaged.

    Masks made from medical-grade sterilization fabric are being used in certain patient care areas and are regularly sterilized and reused. Additionally, DCH has been distributing community-made masks to employees in non-clinical areas. There continues to be a need for both types of masks and DCH is tremendously grateful for the community support, it has helped.

    April 24, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of 2:20 p.m. on 4/24/20:

    • 32 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • 13 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Eight inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 201 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 3,391 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    As a reminder, in the dashboard a PUI is a “person under investigation” which means the individual has COVID-19 symptoms but a test result has not yet come back.

    Mask Use

    DCH is seeking community help with conserving its mask supplies. If you come to DCH for an appointment, Emergency Department care, or as a visitor (if you are one of the few visitor exceptions allowed) please bring and wear your own face covering.

    DCH Foundation Update

    As previously mentioned, the DCH Foundation has been at the center of two community support efforts, Feeding the Frontlines and mask production/collection.

    Feeding the Frontlines is a program where community donations are used to purchase food for healthcare workers from local restaurants. Here are a few details of what has been accomplished so far:

    • Over 10,500 meals have been served (about 7,000 at the DCH campuses and 3,500 to first responders)

    • Roughly $125,000 has been contributed by community members and businesses

    The Foundation has produced two brief videos about the programs as a thank you to the community. The links are copied here.

    Feeding the Frontlines video

    https://www.facebook.com/dchfoundationinc/videos/712747279492671/

    Mask Makers video

    https://www.facebook.com/dchfoundationinc/videos/645600492953609/

    Patient Experience Week

    DCH works to provide a positive experience for its patients. National Patient Experience Week is next week, April 27-May 1. During the week DCH will recognize employees who have positively impacted the patient experience. Those who have been recognized in patient experience comments over the past year, March 2019 through March 2020, will receive special buttons and goodie bags.

    If you know a DCH healthcare worker who has provided an excellent experience, then National Patient Experience Week would be a great time to send a thank you!

     


    April 23, 2020

    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of 11:20 a.m. on 4/23/20:

    • 30 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • 12 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Seven inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 193 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 3,314 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.




    As a reminder, in the dashboard a PUI is a “person under investigation” which means the individual has COVID-19 symptoms but a test result has not yet come back.

    The percentage of positives among those who have been tested also continues to climb but it has leveled off a bit.

    Screening Process Keeps Patients Safe at SpineCare  
    The SpineCare Center patients are often in pain, and they want to feel relief fast. So encountering a new COVID-19 check-in process can make them feel extra anxious and scared. Following is a glimpse inside the SpineCare Center’s process in an effort to ease some of the anxiety related to visiting a DCH clinic.

     
    Brooke Lucas, right, a radiographer at The SpineCare Center, places an armband after checking the temperature of a fellow employee.
    Like every DCH hospital and clinic, SpineCare’s COVID-19 process aims to keep everyone safe, from patients to staff, said Director Melissa Pate.

    The center calls patients the day before their appointment to ask them screening questions. They are given a SpineCare phone number to call just before they arrive on appointment day. This helps the center control the number of patients in the waiting room, enabling a safe distance between them. And only one person can enter per party – relatives or other caregivers must wait in their cars.

    Just inside the center, patients stop at a check-in station to answer screening questions again, have their temperature taken, and receive a mask and colored armband to indicate they have been screened. The receptionist directs them where to sit in the waiting room to maintain a 6-foot distance. Hand sanitizer is also readily available for patients and staff.

    “We have such a great team, and I could not be more proud of their resiliency,” Pate said, noting that the process changes brought by the virus have been hard on all.

    She gives Dr. Wesley Spruill, SpineCare’s medical director, credit for being an early adopter of safe practices. “Dr. Spruill was on top of this very early on. He wanted to be certain that we ensured our patients’ safety [during the COVID-19 outbreak],” Pate said.


    Laboratory Professionals Week 
    While much of the focus tends to be on care at the bedside, there is so much more going on behind the scenes to make it all possible. This week happens to be Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. We celebrate the behind-the-scenes work of all of DCH’s laboratory professionals who play such a vital role in patient care. They have worked tirelessly to continually find better ways to get needed information. Thank you, laboratory professionals, for helping us to get results! 

    If you know a lab worker, send her/him a note of thanks or an air fist bump (from at least 6 feet away!).

     

     

     

    April 22, 2020

    Testing and Confirmed Cases

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of 1:20 p.m. on 4/22/20:

    • 29 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • 11 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Six inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 187 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 3,247 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

     

    As a reminder, in the dashboard a PUI is a “person under investigation” which means the individual has COVID-19 symptoms but a result has not yet come back.

    Total individuals who have tested positive and are needing care jumped substantially in the last 24 hours. Individuals on ventilators held steady but ICU use continues to creep upwards.

    The percentage of positives among those who have been tested also continues to climb.

     

    Please don’t let up on your efforts, we need to continue to work together to flatten this curve.

    Save the Masks! 
    In these updates, DCH has shared a lot of information on mask needs and uses. This is because we still continue to have difficulty finding commercially made masks. At the moment, we are using about five masks for every one mask we are able to secure.

    Community efforts have helped slow the usage rate and we continue to be SO thankful for the support (#DCHmaskmakers you are amazing!).

    The CDC has issued guidelines for mask use in circumstances like those we face now. With these guidelines in mind, we ask visitors to bring their own masks or reuse masks. We are also asking our staff members in non-clinical areas to use and reuse homemade masks. Staff members in clinical areas are asked to reuse their commercially made masks until they are damaged or visibly soiled. Please think twice before throwing your mask away.

    Signs of Support 

           
     
    DCH uses a lot of signs. They are in our parking lots, on our buildings, in our hall and in many more places. Signs are not something you may think about until you need them.

    Local sign companies have been an integral part of DCH’s efforts to battle COVID-19 by rapidly responding to daily changes in needs for directing patients. Lately several companies including TuscaBlue and FastSigns of Tuscaloosa have provided signs recognizing the efforts of those providing care and support for COVID patients. Attached here are a few examples but you will see more if you drive by any of our campuses.

    Thank you for the generosity and encouragement!

     

     

     

      

    April 21, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    DCH internal counts as of 2:20 p.m. on 4/21/20:

    • 21 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • 11 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Six inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 175 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 3,165 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    As a reminder, in the dashboard a PUI is a “person under investigation,” which means the individual has COVID-19 symptoms but a test result has not yet come back.

    Total individuals who have tested positive and are needing care dropped slightly, but both the number of PUIs and positive cases needing ICU care increased. In addition, the total number of PUIs continues to go up despite faster inpatient test results.

    The increasing percentage of those with the virus and those who are suspected of having the virus and require ICU care are both indicators that we are not yet at a plateau.

    Also included today is the chart that shows the percentage of positives among those who have been tested. As you can see, that rate also continues to climb. Please stay diligent in your efforts.

     

    Tru-D Helping with Coronavirus
    DCH’s Environmental Services Department has a big part in the battle against COVID-19. Following is some detail on just one of their efforts to help keep everyone safer.

    DCH is continually looking for ways to improve outcomes for patients. That is why DCH began investigating Tru-D ultraviolet light robots designed to provide enhanced room cleaning. 

    The units deliver an automated, measured dose of ultraviolet light to consistently disinfect a room from a single position, eliminating human error and documenting disinfection results for each cycle. This quality of UVC energy is an effective, environmentally-friendly and chemical-free way to prevent microorganisms from replicating in any environment.

    After reviewing the studies and science behind this technology, DCH purchased one machine from Tru-D SmartUVC in 2016. The equipment has been validated by more than a dozen, independent, third-party studies indicating it was effective in reducing the transmission of infectious diseases. Its precise UVC wavelength is germicidal which means it is capable of inactivating bacteria, protozoa AND viruses.

    Late in 2019, thanks to The DCH Foundation’s Fast Forward Fund, three Tru-D SmartUVC room disinfection robots were purchased. These complement Environmental Services’ existing cleaning processes and bring the total to four UV robots across DCH.

    Now, the Environmental Services Department has stationed one of the machines in DCH Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department, specifically for the deep cleaning of the separate COVID assessment and treatment areas. Additionally, the machines are used as part of the cleaning process for any room that was used by a patient with confirmed COVID-19, and each of the operating rooms receives a treatment on a weekly basis.   

    Mask Update
    Over 5,000 of the masks made from medical-grade sterilization wrap have now been provided to DCH.  To all those supporting this effort, here are some more heartfelt thank-you photos from the DCH employees who are now using the masks. This time they come from OB/Labor and Delivery, Interventional Radiology and Cardiology. #DCHmaskmakers

         

    More Hand Sanitizer!
    Previously we shared the news of the efforts by the Left Hand Soap Company to help DCH secure hand sanitizer. Now Nucor Steel has donated 100 gallons more! Check out The DCH Foundation’s post on this for additional details. https://www.facebook.com/dchfoundationinc/photos/a.635886189776400/3096181527080175/?type=3&theater. You can also read up on other amazing community contributions on The DCH Foundation’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dchfoundationinc/.

     
    April 20, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of 12:20 p.m. on 4/20/20:

    • 22 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
    • Nine inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
    • Seven inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
    • 168 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
    • 3,118 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

     

    This represents the first time we have had more than five inpatients in the ICU and on ventilators who were positive for COVID-19. As you can see in the chart, the severity of the cases and numbers of those with COVID-19 who need hospital care slowly started to increase over the weekend.

     

    The current totals continue to be well within DCH’s total capacity to manage. However, the overall upward trend should be a good indicator to everyone that now is not the time to slacken efforts at social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing.




     

    Screening Hours
    The volume at DCH’s remote screening tent has continued to lessen. Because of this, the site will now only be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – noon. Based on the community need future adjustments to the schedule may be made.

    April 17, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of 3:20 p.m. on 4/17/20:

    • 16 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 147 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 2,958 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.




    Screening Hours

    On March 24, nearly 200 specimens were collected for testing at DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center. More recently, the sample volume on some days has been 40 or less. With this drop in volume, DCH has made the decision to further modify its screening days and hours. The site will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – noon for now.

    We will continue to monitor the community need and adjust accordingly.

    RNs on the ICU: COVID-19 Did Not Come with a Textbook

    It’s not easy being a nurse, but when you’re fighting a virus that is new and unpredictable, a virus hitting some with a punch and others with only a scrape, it can be scary and perplexing.

    Two DCH RNs, among several other RNs, are in the thick of COVID-19. They see the randomness of the virus daily as they care for patients on 3 Southeast at DCH Regional Medical Center. What is normally a Peds Unit has been converted to a temporary ICU. Read more about their story here. 

    April 16, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of 11:20 a.m. on 4/16/20:

    • 19 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 140 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 2,867 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.



    Gratitude for the Support
    "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

    COVID-19 has changed everything. For most, our daily lives have changed completely. We have had to separate, and for some, that isolation has created as much concern as the virus itself. Yet, many have still found ways to rise beyond themselves through service to others. That has created fulfillment for the giver and immense gratitude for the receivers. We have said it many times before, but it is truer today than ever, thank you for your continued support.

    More than 1,500 masks made by the community out of medical-grade sterilization fabric have come in and are already being used in clinical areas. Employees in Anesthesiology and the Operating Room wanted to share the attached photos with the community.

         
         
         
         
         





    April 15, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/15/20:

    • 17 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Six inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 130 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 2,741 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

     

    Understanding the Results
    Today’s report includes a significant jump in COVID-positive patients being treated in our hospitals. It also includes some revised reporting tools (attached image) with some additional information. Following is an attempt to explain both the jump and the tools.

    As of yesterday’s report we were treating seven inpatients for COVID-19. As you can see, today we are treating 17 inpatients with confirmed COVID-19.

    Why the large jump overnight? 

    This is an evolving situation, and we are constantly looking to improve both our flow of information and treatment processes. At any given time we have had up to 60 individuals in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms but who had not yet been confirmed to have the virus. These individuals are known as persons under investigation or PUIs (as shown in the chart), and they have been isolated and treated with the same safety precautions as if they had been confirmed to have the virus.

    On Monday we announced that we can now test in-house in less than eight hours. Combined with rapid turnaround times from Diatherix for the more acute patients, we saw a rapid decrease from over 60 PUIs at one point yesterday to 25 today. This faster turnaround is cutting down on the lag time, and we are starting to get a more real-time picture of what is happening. It has not changed how we have been caring for those we suspected of having the virus.

    We continue to be fortunate in that even with the rise in confirmed cases; the acuity levels remain generally low. However, as a community, we still need to be vigilant or the numbers will continue to climb. 

    The Home Depot and McAbee Construction
    The Home Depot in Tuscaloosa received a shipment which included a case of respirators. They reached out and donated them all to DCH this morning.

    McAbee Construction also pitched in with a large box of face shields.

    Thank you so much! All items will be put to good use.


    April 14, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/14/20:

    • 7 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 120 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 2,605 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.










    Roma Enterprises and Masks

    Roma Enterprises, an upholstery company and furniture manufacturer in Winfield, AL, has now joined the effort to produce masks made from medical-grade sterilization fabric. The company has dedicated five employees to the project and they are now producing about 100 masks per day.

    Related to this, we wanted to share a brief update on the numbers. In addition, 30 more individuals have joined the effort so we are up to 280 community members sewing these special masks. Also, more fabric has come in which could allow up to 17,000 total masks to be made. Last Friday the first batch of 750 community-made masks were delivered to DCH materials management to be put into use. As of today another 750 masks have come in making the total 1,500.

    DCH sends out a special thank you to Roma Enterprises, Mercedes-Benz US International and all of the individual community volunteers, YOU are OUR heroes!

    Feeding the Frontlines
    Feeding the Frontlines, a program administered through the DCH Foundation, has now received $110,000 in donations from community members and businesses. Those funds are being used to purchase meals from local restaurants to feed DCH employees as well as community first responders.

    To date, nearly every department in all three hospitals has received at least one meal or a meal is scheduled. Over 5,000 meals have been delivered or scheduled for DCH departments. Over 2,000 meals have been delivered or scheduled for first responders.

    Your continued generosity to both healthcare workers and local restaurants has been amazing and greatly appreciated.

    Teaching Kindness
    Today the Emergency Department received a gift box from Mrs. Chronister’s 1st grade class at Northport Elementary. It included homemade masks, goodie bags and cards of appreciation. The entire emergency department staff sends a big virtual hug to the class for the kind and thoughtful gifts.









    April 13, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/13/20:

    • 8 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 119 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 2,585 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.










    Left Hand Soap Company
    L
    ike masks and nasal swabs, hand sanitizer has become increasingly hard to come by, and DCH has been using a lot of it. DCH’s normal suppliers are saying they cannot get hand sanitizer any time soon, so we started looking at local options.

    Tuscaloosa’s own Left Hand Soap Company temporarily closed its in-person store starting March 17 but the business has continued to fill orders online. DCH contacted them about sourcing hand sanitizer, and the small local business has come through in a big way. They were able to supply 400 gallons for DCH to purchase! In addition, plastic bottles are in short supply so they worked with Piper & Leaf Tea Co. in Huntsville to source glass bottles for their retail orders (shown in the photo) and provide plastic for DCH.

    Left Hand Soap Company, thanks for the assist!

    In-house Testing
    DCH has been working with the vendor Becton Dickinson the maker of DCH’s BD MAX molecular diagnostic testing system to be able to test specimens in-house for the presence of COVID-19. After thorough testing, the equipment can now produce reliable results in eight hours or less.

    Unfortunately, supplies that work with the equipment are very limited so in-house testing will initially be used to help facilitate the transfer of patients to lower-acuity facilities. Until now, DCH has been using the Diatherix lab for higher acuity inpatients and will likely continue to do so in situations where supplies continue to be low and patient care will not be negatively impacted by a 36-hour (with specimen transit) result.

    For now, LabCorp will continue to be used for lower-acuity cases on non-hospitalized patients. Hopefully the reduced load will help produce increasingly faster turnaround times for these patients as well.

    Screening Site Temporarily Closed Due to Damage
    On Sunday evening the strong winds and rain damaged several of the tents at the DCH screening site just west of DCH Regional Medical Center. The smaller tents mostly stayed in place but the roof of one caved in and was dragged several feet. For the large tent, a leg was bent and some of the wall panels were damaged or ripped down.

    Because of the damage, the testing site was closed down today (Monday, 4/13) but the DCH team was able to get all repairs completed and supplies and equipment are being set back up now in order to be back up and running tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. As always, if you have severe symptoms please call your doctor or come to the emergency room. DCH will be here for you.

    Donated Masks
    Mercedes-Benz U.S. International donated 30,000 masks to the Tuscaloosa County EMA last week. Tuscaloosa County EMA distributed the masks to first responders including fire, police and EMS. DCH Health System received 9,000 of the masks. The supplies are now being put to good use and are much appreciated!

    4/13/20 The tent being used for DCH COVID-19 screening and testing was damaged in last night’s storm and is being repaired. Remote site testing and screening will be delayed until further notice (repairs are complete).

    April 10, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/10/20:

    • 11 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
    • 105 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
    • 2,386 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Is This Working?

     

    So many measures, both in the community and in the hospitals, have been put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, but are they working? Only time will tell for sure, but here is an image showing a summary of what DCH has been tracking.

     

    The first line shows the number of positive COVID-19 inpatients at DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center since March 30. The numbers have gone up but are holding pretty steady, and as you can see, some have been well enough to go home. In addition, so far there have been no days where more than five individuals with confirmed COVID-19 have been on ventilators or in the ICU.

     

    This means we have been well within our capacity to manage the situation. It may also be an indication of information penetration. As we have all watched the spread of this virus, the level of knowledge of what to look for, when to seek care and how to treat the condition has increased and helped.

     

    The second line shows a rapid increase of detected cases through DCH efforts, and the fourth shows a growing percentage of positives among those tested at DCH.

     

    There are likely a number of reasons for this but here are a few thoughts. First, at the DCH testing site, switching to nasal swabs has produced more verifiable results. Second, the commercial labs we use are starting to get caught up, so the numbers have been rapidly increasing in the last few days. Had the labs not been so overloaded, the increase would have still been there, but it likely would have been more gradual. The end result, however, is still the same… more and more people are testing positive.

     

    In summary, the good news is DCH has the capacity to deal with the current rate of infection and severity. In addition, on a daily basis new information is helping us to identify COVID-19 signs and enhance the treatment processes.

     

    On the other end, while there is some sign of the curve flattening (in terms of inpatients), the virus is definitely still spreading. If ever there was a time to hold the course in terms of social distancing, sanitizing, hand washing, etc., it is now. It’s time to double down T-Town!  

    Update on Masks from Sterilization Wrap

     

    The first batch of community made masks made from medical-grade fabric was delivered to DCH materials management today. The DCH Foundation has been handing out packets of materials and receiving masks all week. Today they delivered the first batch of 750 community made masks to the hospital for distribution.

    Over 250 community members and Mercedes-Benz US International (MBUSI is doing 2,000 masks) are working through supplies that should ultimately produce up to 15,000 masks. Each mask can be sterilized and reused up to 20 times.

     

    The University of Florida Health piloted making masks out of the material with good results and produced two templates. Template type 1 is similar to a surgical mask (the version with pleats in the photo). Template type 2 is designed to replicate an N95 mask and create a tighter seal around the face. Finished masks will be used by healthcare providers.

     

    We are amazed and thrilled by both the results so far and the outpouring of community support. Thank you again!

     

     

    Severe Weather and Screening Weekend Hours

     


    Reports for this Sunday indicate the possibility of bad weather including strong winds and potential tornadoes.

     


    DCH had already planned to close its remote screening site this Sunday in observance of Easter.


    The potential for bad weather reinforces the decision to close and provides all the more reason to stay home and stay safe.

     


    DCH’s remote screening service, just west of its Regional Medical Center, will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – noon.




    Updated April 9, 2020

    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

     

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/9/20:

    • 8 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
    • 99 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
    • 2,267 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

     

    Screening Weekend Hours
    D
    CH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon. The screening site will be closed on Sunday in observance of Easter.

     

    UA Continues to Support DCH with Fighting COVID-19
    Several departments from the University of Alabama have been supporting DCH’s COVID-19 testing effort with the production of face shields. Now, UA’s Department of Biological Sciences is lending a helping hand as well by producing viral transport media (VTM) so that the stability of patient samples collected at DCH is maintained during transport. 

    There are two main components to most swab samples. First, the swab is used to collect the specimen from the individual. Once a sample is taken, the swab is then broken off into a tube, sealed and prepared for transport. Inside the tube is a solution that helps preserve the specimen until it can be tested. It is called different things such as universal transport media or viral transport media. The contents of the solution vary depending on the equipment to be used but often include protective protein, antibiotics to control microbial contamination and buffers to control pH. Like swabs, transport media have become increasingly hard to come by.

    Dr. Carol Duffy, in UA’s Department of Biological Sciences, offered to create a batch of VTM using the CDC’s protocol. She recently completed a batch of 800 tubes of VTM so that DCH can transfer the specimens.

    Thank you Dr. Duffy, and everyone at UA, for your continued support. Roll Tide!

    April 8, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/8/20:

    • 10 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 92 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 2,119 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Screening Weekend Hours
    DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon. The screening site will be closed on Sunday in observance of Easter.

    Continued Community Support
    Thanks to Keith Hudson at Alabama Central Glass who built intubation boxes and delivered them last week to the Anesthesia Department (see the photo where staff members demonstrate how the box is used). DCH certified registered nurse anesthetists sent him plans the week of March 22, and he delivered quickly!

    CRNAs at Northport Medical Center contacted Hudson, and he graciously donated materials and labor for four boxes. Two of the boxes are at DCH Regional Medical Center and two are at NMC where they are already in use.

    We greatly appreciate Alabama Central Glass and other community businesses helping us during this difficult time!

    Helping Patients Communicate with Their Families
    Reducing patient and family anxiety during hospitalization is always an important part of healing. But this effort has become a challenge with the current visitor restrictions at DCH. Thanks to help from DCH’s Information Technology Department, a limited number of Apple iPads are now being used in patient care areas to help facilitate patient and family communication. 

    April 7, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/7/20:

    • 10 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 85 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 1,982 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Plexiglass Hoods

     
    Dr. Donal Conway, an emergency medicine physician, is shown demonstrating the hood that was recently donated to DCH by Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.
    Departments from the University of Alabama and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International have already partnered to produce face shields for providers at DCH Health System.

    Now, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International has also started producing Plexiglass hoods to reduce the possibility of viral transmission during procedures such as placing a breathing tube, where the chance of aerosolization (coughing, sneezing, etc.) is increased.

    The outpouring of community support and innovation continues to be amazing. Thank you!

     
    April 6, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
     
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/6/20:

    • 8 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 76 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 1,905 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Update on Sterilization Wrap Mask Assembly
    As was reported late last week, over 250 people from the community have already responded to last week’s request from DCH to sew masks from a special medical fabric. So far, the DCH Foundation has been able to assemble and distribute over half the kits and is working to follow up with callers and get the rest out as soon as possible.

     

     

    In addition to help from individual community members, Mercedes Benz US International reached out and is assembling over 1,000 masks at its factory.

    As you may have heard, the DCH Foundation’s BBQ and Blue Jeans event for this year was cancelled. However, many of the event’s sponsors graciously contributed funding anyway which led to the creation of the foundation’s COVID-19 fund. The fund has help support the Feeding the Frontline effort, capital expenses related to ensuring sufficient ICU space, acquiring personal protective equipment, employee hardships, and supporting the remote testing site.

    What a tremendous community and business response! Thank you!

    Update on Community Made Masks
    Community made masks are starting to make their way to DCH and will be put to good use. DCH would like to thank everyone who has donated masks. DCH will continue to gladly accept the homemade masks and put them to good use in lower acuity areas such as the medical office buildings. The masks being made out of surgical fabric will be given to providers in higher acuity areas.

    A box will sit outside of the DCH Foundation office at 1110 Dr. Edward Hillard Dr. Please drop off homemade masks in the box and they will be collected multiple times a day. Anything you can share will be greatly appreciated.

     

    April 3, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/3/20:

    • Nine inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 32 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 943 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Screening Weekend Hours
    DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon and Sunday from 2 – 5 p.m.

    Mask Assembly: Overwhelming Community Response
    DCH would like to give a huge thank you to the community! Over 250 people from the community have already responded to yesterday’s request from DCH to sew masks from a special medical fabric. The fabric can be sterilized multiple times, and its microbial barrier properties are well tested.

    With help from the COVID-19 Fund, DCH ordered a shipment of the fabric, which should make 3,600 masks. Once completed, the masks will go to direct patient care areas.

    Two different styles of masks are being made from the fabric: One is similar to an N95 mask and the other is more like a procedural mask.

    Volunteers have included college students, employees and DCH retirees. Volunteers are given a packet that includes fabric, a pattern and other items. These are picked up curbside at the Foundation.

    The DCH Foundation is coordinating both the packet preparation and scheduling the volunteers. They are working to catch up with both and for those who have called to volunteer they will get back to you soon. We will update the community on how things are going early next week as the first of the masks start to come back and we refine the process.

    Now Accepting Community Made Masks
    In the last few days DCH asked everyone to start wearing masks in patient care areas. This has caused a substantial increase in usage.

    DCH is now requesting the donation of homemade masks to be used in lower acuity areas such as the medical office buildings. The masks being made out of surgical fabric will be given to providers in higher acuity areas.

    Starting Monday, a box will sit outside of the DCH Foundation office at 1110 Dr. Edward Hillard Dr. Please drop off homemade masks in the box and they will be collected multiple times a day. Anything you can share will be greatly appreciated.

     

    April 2, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases 
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/2/20:

    • Seven inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 26 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 759 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Screening Weekend Hours
    DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon and Sunday from 2 – 5 p.m.

    Now Accepting Masks Assembled at Home from Surgical Fabric
    Hospitals use a special fabric to wrap surgical instrument trays before they go through gas sterilization or an autoclave. This fabric can be sterilized multiple times, and its microbial barrier properties are well tested. The University of Florida Health piloted making masks out of the material with good results.

    DCH Health System has received a shipment of the fabric and is looking for volunteers to sew masks from it. Volunteers will be provided the fabric (each sheet can make up to 10 masks), metal for the nose adjustment and a pattern. Finished masks will be given to health care providers.

    If you are able to help, please call June Murray at 205-759-7996. Thank you!

    #FeedingtheFrontline
    Yesterday we shared that The DCH Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund launched a program called “Feeding the Frontlines” to match people who want to help the DCH Health System and local restaurants at the same time. We are excited to announce an expansion of the program.

    The DCH Foundation is expanding the Feeding the Frontlines program to also coordinate meals for first responders and other frontline industries such as police, fire, nursing home and EMS workers. With a donor contribution of $250 for a single department meal or $1,500 for a week of meals for a department, the Foundation staff will connect with a local restaurant, purchase the food and work with either DCH’s Volunteer Services Department or a first responder point of contact to arrange for the meal to be delivered. Those providing the contribution simply specify where they would like the meal to go.

    We are especially thankful to Randy and Julie Rhodes along with Harvest Select for a generous gift to our Covid-19 Fund and the inspiration for this expansion.

    Contact Brandt LaPish at Elizabeth.lapish@dchsystem.com if you are interested in participating.

    #strongertogether
    You can show your support for DCH by adding the DCH #strongertogether frame to your Facebook profile photo. Here is how it works:

    • From mobile, click on your picture and select “Add Frame.” Type “DCH stronger together” in the search box and choose the frame.

    • From desktop, hover over your profile picture and select “Update.”  In the pop-up window, select “Add Frame” then type “DCH stronger together” in the search box and choose the frame.

    April 1, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/1/20:

    • Five or fewer inpatients are being treated for COVID-19 (note, this number was 6 yesterday but has since dropped below the minimum threshold we are reporting).

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 20 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 712 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Temperature Scanning Update
    The new, phased process for checking temperatures at major hospital entrances will launch in the South Medical Tower at DCH Regional Medical Center at 6 a.m. tomorrow, April 2. The same process will be implemented at all three DCH hospitals and other DCH sites as staffing becomes available.

    As noted in the March 31 update, the process requires every visitor, employee, provider and vendor to submit to a temperature scan at least once a day. Any person with a temperature of 100 degrees F or greater will not be allowed to enter (but can seek care if there is a need).

    Once a temp is taken, each person will receive an armband to be worn on the arm or laced through the ID badge. Armbands will be valid until the next business day at 6 a.m. The armband color will change daily except for Saturdays and Sundays when the same color will be used across both days.

    In addition, all who enter will be given a mask to wear. It will be required in direct patient care areas or when a distance of 6 feet can’t be maintained between people.

    Capacity
    The average daily census or occupancy at DCH Regional Medical Center is a little over 400 patients. Today that number was just over 300 and has continued to trend downward.

    What does that mean?

    In part, the drop in volume is related to the temporary pause in elective surgeries, and that is expected. The bigger concern is that people may be delaying care they really need and that could make their individual condition much worse when they finally do go to the hospital.

    DCH has divided its Emergency Rooms (going so far as to add walls) so that those with respiratory conditions are kept separate from others. This has been done to keep our community as safe as possible. We want to make sure everyone knows that if they need care, they shouldn’t hesitate to call on us; we will be here for them.

    Helping Community Businesses
    DCH has received a tremendous outpouring of offers from the community to help with everything from donated masks to meals for health care workers. The DCH Foundation stepped in to help coordinate mask and thermometer donations. Now, as donors have reached out wishing to contribute financially, the Foundation has created the COVID-19 Fund.

    As an extension of that, The DCH Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund has launched a program called “Feeding the Frontline” to match people who want to help the DCH Health System and local restaurants at the same time. With a donor contribution of $250 for a single meal or $1,500 for a week of meals, the Foundation staff will connect with a local restaurant, purchase the food and work with DCH’s Volunteer Services Director to arrange for it to be sent to a department at one of the DCH Health System campuses.

    Contact Brandt LaPish at Elizabeth.lapish@dchsystem.com if you are interested in participating.

    March 31, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon on 3/31/20:

    • 6 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 19 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 676 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites

    Masks
    Effective Wednesday, April 1, at 7 a.m., any individual entering a DCH facility will be provided a surgical mask and asked to wear it. The mask should be worn in patient care areas and in other areas where social distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained. An N95 mask will be provided to employees where recommended based on the precautions for a particular patient.

    At DCH’s Regional Medical Center, masks will be provided at the entrances for the medical tower, Manderson Cancer Center, Emergency Department and South Lobby. At Northport and Fayette, masks will be at all of the currently available entrances.

    This universal distribution and wearing of masks will be maintained as long as supplies are available and the elevated threat of infection exists. Masks continue to be a limited resource, so it is essential for providers to follow provided protocols to determine when to use each mask type and for how long.

    DCH wholeheartedly thanks the community members and businesses who have donated masks. At this time we are not able to accept homemade masks, but if you know of a business or individual that can donate surgical or N95 masks please call 205-759-7106 to arrange a drop off.

    Temperature Scanning
    Community members and businesses have donated or loaned infrared thermometers (thank you!) and more are expected soon. In anticipation of these new resources, a plan is being put in place to require every visitor, employee and provider to submit to temperature scan at least once a day. Any individual with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be allowed to enter (but can seek care if there is a need). This screening process will begin in the next few days.

    Personal Belongings
    With the current visitation restrictions and increased infection prevention measures, DCH is asking patients and visitors to only bring essential items to the hospital. DCH Health System cannot be responsible for their personal belongings and valuables, and those items create an additional infection transmission hazard for everyone involved. 

    Additional Surge Planning
    Previously DCH converted 14 rooms at its Regional Medical Center into temporary negative pressure rooms. The airflow for each room is kept independent from the rest of the hospital using portable HEPA filtration units. These rooms will be used for individuals whose care involves procedures necessitating this additional precaution.

    DCH anticipated the possible need for additional negative pressure rooms, so it ordered more filtration units in advance (and is working to secure still more). In the last few days, 27 more HEPA filtration systems have come in and are either being put in place or are being located in areas so that rooms can be rapidly converted to negative pressure as needed.

    March 30, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases
    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    DCH internal counts as of noon today:

    • 6 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

    • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

    • 18 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 at DCH sites including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

    • 604 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

    Remote Screening Weekday and Weekend Hours
    The remote screening service is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Weekend hours will be announced by Thursday.

    Visitation Policy Revision
    An update is being implemented to DCH’s visitation policy regarding the number of visitors that will be allowed in the NICU at any DCH campus. Click here for details.

    March 27, 2020
    Screening Update

    The remote screening service will be open this Saturday, March 28, from 8 a.m. – noon and Sunday, March 29, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Due to staff and PPE availability, plus lower volumes, we will change the hours from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Friday next week.

     

    March 26, 2020
    Testing and Confirmed Cases

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this time we have inpatients with COVID-19 being treated, but there are still five or less. DCH internal counts as of noon today:

    • 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
    • 463 tested negative

       

      N95 Masks Needed
      As our Coronavirus team conducts its ongoing evaluation of our supplies, a need is emerging for N-95 masks. We will gladly accept donations of masks sealed in their original packaging at The DCH Foundation office, located in the Marie Bloodworth Building at 1110 Edward Hillard Blvd., Tuscaloosa, 35401. Please call 759-7106 if you have a donation and we will meet you here. 

      Please share all you can – keeping our clinical staff safe is going to be a key issue in West Alabama’s ability to weather this crisis and help limit COVID-19’s damage to our community.

      Call 205-759-7106 with any questions, or simply drop off the masks at the above address.

       

      Additional Isolation Area
      The Emergency Department at DCH’s Regional Medical Center has added more isolation space to place patients who present with respiratory symptoms similar to COVID-19. A wall was put up to isolate four rooms from the rest of the Emergency Department. Patients who come in with respiratory symptoms are taken through a separate entrance into one of these four rooms until they can be evaluated.

      Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center have also instituted isolation areas and practices for their Emergency Departments.

       

      Surge Preparations
      We will need the support of all DCH staff should we see the sustained and widespread community transmission of COVID-19. Groups of employees are being identified now that could be redeployed to other areas. For example, since nonelective surgeries are on hold, OR nurses may be called upon to help with patients at the bedside.

       

      To prepare for these situations, staff members are getting updated MEDITECH training on essential tasks like charting, rounding or physical assessment.

       

      Redeployment will only be used when demands upon our system warrant it.

       



       

       

       How to Access Your Coronavirus Test Results

       Clergy Visitation Rules

      Infographic: Stop the Spread of Germs

       Infographic: 5 Coronavirus Facts

       Infographic: Protecting You & Your Family

      March 25, 2020
      Confirmed Cases

      To keep our community informed during the COVID-19 outbreak, DCH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robin Wilson and Dr. Blake Lovely, emergency room physician and regional medical director for emergency department services at DCH, participated in a virtual town hall with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox today, March 25. Here is some of the information they shared.

      The remote screening service will be closed on Friday, March 20, due to a forecast of thunderstorms in the morning and potential heavy wind and hail in the afternoon. In addition, as announced yesterday, we will not be conducting screenings on the weekends. The next time the service will be available will be Monday, March 23, starting at 8 a.m., as long as there is no rain or heavy winds.

      To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this time we have inpatients with COVID-19 being treated, but there are five or less.

      As of this morning:

      • Eight were positive for COVID-19 including tests from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital
      • 405 tested negative

       

      Ventilators
      DCH is prepared to handle coronavirus patients who may need ventilators.

      We just received 22 new Hamilton ventilators, including one for MRI and one for patient transport. These were part of a plan that began before the COVID-19 outbreak.

      The new ventilators are being assembled on-site now. Employee training starts early next week, followed by the ventilators’ active use by late next week or early the following week.

      The Hamilton ventilators use the same supplies as our current ventilators, and they automatically adjust to the patient’s airflow needs, enabling a faster recovery.

      DCH has 48 existing ventilators. We also have 10 rental units on hand and ready to use.

      That brings the total number of ventilators between Northport Medical Center and DCH Regional Medical Center to 80.

      Our average daily ventilator use is between 16 to 20 patients. Currently we have 25 patients on ventilators, so we are on the high end of our average but well within our capacity.

      Preparing for a Surge
      We have taken several steps to prepare for a potential surge in patients.

      DCH RMC has at least 20 negative pressure rooms (their air is separated from the main circulation) for patients who may need to be on airborne precautions.

      We have been working on two initiatives to expand that capacity.

      • First, we are moving as many patients as possible who have symptoms and are waiting on test results to one area. The nurses in these areas receive additional training on protocols to ensure patient and employee safety.

      • Second, we have been modifying an area so that an entire unit of 14 rooms will be negative pressure in case additional rooms are needed. This will serve as our primary overflow area for the more critically ill.

      Other units are being looked at for similar efforts.

      March 23, 2020

      Testing at DCH has been cancelled for today due to weather. However, our facilities team has continued to work. They are erecting a tent that cars can drive into. This will allow the screening and testing to continue during rain as long as it is not severe.


      March 21, 2020

      DCH will be offering the screening/testing service tomorrow, Sunday, March 22, from 2-5 p.m. in the parking lot just west of its Regional Medical Center campus. The times are consistent with staff availability and potential poor weather. Only swab tests will be conducted and the supply is critically low. This means only those screened with symptoms indicating a high likelihood of infection will have a specimen collected for testing.

      The service will resume 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday next week as long as supplies remain available and the weather allows for the process to safely continue. Additional measures being taken to improve and continue the effort include:

      Adding a tent that vehicles can drive into which will facilitate continued screening during moderate rain.

      Seeking additional resources including testing with other labs and new sources for supplies. Current supply levels of swabs will only last through early next week so an extensive effort is underway to find more.

      Refining the process for screening.

      Feedback from the state lab has indicated that the high rate of rejected sputum specimens was not primarily due to improper transport and spoiling (this was given as one of the reasons for rejected samples statewide). The sputum samples from DCH were primarily rejected due to a lack of testable material (not enough sputum in the collection cup). Visually screening the samples at the collection site has been very difficult due to the protective measures in place so now only swabs will be done so that the provider can better directly control the adequacy of material collected.

      If you had a specimen collected you can check your results on the DCH portal. It takes about five days for results at the moment. If your record indicates the sample was insufficient for a test and you are feeling worse, please know you can come back and get retested or see/call your doctor. False negatives are not impossible and even if negative you can still get infected later. You should practice social distancing for at least 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

      March 20, 2020
      Elective Medical Procedures
      The state has issued an order requiring all elective medical procedures to be delayed until at least April 5. All non-urgent/emergent procedures will be cancelled starting Monday, 3/23/2020. We ask you to contact your physician for assistance in determining if a case would be considered urgent/emergent based on guidelines that have been established.  

      Screening 
      Unfortunately, some specimens from the screening effort were unable to be tested by the lab. Feedback from the state lab has indicated two main reasons for this. First, reports of insufficient cooling during transport have contributed to specimens that could not be tested. The second issue has been the lack of sufficient material to test. These issues have impacted both the swab and Sputum cup collection methods and DCH and other hospitals across the state have been working to improve their processes as information has come in.

      We are working with FEMA, ADPH, and the US Government to get more swab test kits to meet the needs of our community ASAP.

      If you record indicates the sample was insufficient for a test and you are feeling worse, please know you can come back and get retested or see/call your doctor. False negatives are not impossible and even if negative you can still get infected later. You should practice social distancing for at least 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

      March 19, 2020

      Screening Tent
      The remote screening service will be closed on Friday, March 20, due to a forecast of thunderstorms in the morning and potential heavy wind and hail in the afternoon. In addition, as announced yesterday, we will not be conducting screenings on the weekends. The next time the service will be available will be Monday, March 23, starting at 8 a.m., as long as there is no rain or heavy winds.

       

      Visitation Policy Revision
      This afternoon an order was issued by the state health officer mandating the suspension of certain public gatherings. This order will run through at least April 5.

      The mandate prohibits hospital visits except for “certain compassionate care situations”. Fayette Medical Center’s Nursing Home is still closed to all visitors. DCH is updating is temporary visitation policy as follows for all of its campuses:

      • One visitor per outpatient cancer treatment patient or maternity patient.
      • One visitor per patient for end of life events.
      • Up to two visitors per patient for the NICU.
      • Any visitor must be healthy and at least 16 years old.
      • Per the order, no other visitors will be allowed.

      Thank you for your patience as we have worked through this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and how to manage it. Every day has brought new questions. With the help of a highly dedicated staff, excellent physicians and engaged partners such as the city, police, fire, EMS and many more, we have figured out solutions so we could keep screening and collecting specimens for testing.

      Today we wanted to let you know about two changes we will implement immediately at DCH’s remote screening site adjacent to its Regional Medical Center. First, the provider’s personal protective equipment is not as effective when wet, so rain creates a potentially unsafe situation for the providers. On days where significant rain is in the forecast, or it starts to rain heavily when not expected, we will close the screening for the day and will work to get the word out. Second, everyone has been working very hard to meet the community need, but our resources are limited and our staff needs rest. To that end, we have decided to not hold screenings on Saturdays and Sundays.  Please self-quarantine until the next non-rainy weekday if you feel you need to be evaluated for a test. 

      This has been an evolving process. These changes reflect an effort to pace our resource consumption at a rate we hope to manage for the duration of the need. Community feedback is critical to our success. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reply to this post or message us directly. Thank you for your understanding.

      March 18, 2020
      Testing Method at Remote Screening

      The nation has a shortage of the viral transport media required to use nasal swabs, there isn’t nearly enough to meet the needs of our community. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) specifies an alternative method of testing using sputum. Sputum requires a specialized lab and a good sputum sample, but it is an extremely good test.

      However, if you can’t get enough sputum up, they can’t test. Please understand that the state lab cannot process inadequate samples. We appreciate our partners at the ADPH lab; they are an extremely sophisticated and competent team. They are working hard to test every sample they can, but please be understanding if your test results are inconclusive.

      The good news is that we have obtained hundreds of usable samples. In order to meet the needs of our community, we are using all resources available to fight this disease. This method of collection, mixed with a judicious use of the nasal swabs we have available, has allowed us to keep collecting specimens for testing when others have had to stop due to a lack of supplies. In the first two days alone we were able to screen nearly 800 people and send off over 500 specimens for testing.

      We appreciate you getting tested. We are learning about the disease prevalence in our community through this initiative.

      Unfortunately, a negative result by any testing mechanism does not rule out the disease. If you are having symptoms, please avoid contact with others for 14 days regardless of your test result or test method.

      We have to work together as a community to keep this disease from spreading. Let’s protect each other!

       

       

      March 17, 2020
      Yesterday, we screened 307 individuals at our remote screening facility. There were 267 specimens collected. It will take up to 5 days for the results to come back, and those screened will be contacted only if the test was positive. We will not be contacting individuals who tested negative. If your employer requires a doctor’s note for you to return to work, we recommend you contact your primary care physician and let them know you were screened at our remote facility. He or she can access your test results.


      March 16, 2020
      Thank you for your patience as we made our way through the first day of screening and specimen collection for testing. We saw hundreds of people. Overall things went fairly smoothly but we also learned a lot and will work to continually refine the process.

      While a portion of those screened met the current criteria for testing, many did not. We are doing our best to provide answers and test where appropriate. Please help us manage the limited resources (personnel, supplies etc.) we have available. We will resume tomorrow at 8 a.m. just west of DCH’s Regional Medical Center in the laundry parking lot. Specimens will only be collected for testing if the individual meets the current testing recommendations.

      - Flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, body aches.

      - Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of symptom onset.

      March 15, 2020

       

      Please help us manage the limited resources (personnel, supplies etc.) we have available for the remote screening/testing that will start tomorrow, March 16, at 8 a.m. just west of DCH’s Regional Medical Center in the laundry parking lot. Specimens will only be collected for testing if the individual meets the current testing recommendations.

      - Flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, body aches.

      - Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of symptom onset.


      March 14, 2020
      DCH’s multidisciplinary coronavirus (COVID-19) task force is setting up a remote screening facility in the large parking area just west of Dr. Edward Hillard Drive on its Regional Medical Center Campus near the DCH laundry facility.

       

      Starting Monday, March 16, screening services will be offered from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., seven days a week, until the need diminishes. Community members who think they may have contracted the virus will be able to pull up and speak to a provider directly from their own vehicle. Providers will conduct a verbal and visual screening based on the most recent CDC guidelines including:

      • Flu-like symptoms including fever and/or respiratory illness
      • Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of symptom onset
      • Travel from an affected geographic area within 14 days of symptom onset

      Based on the screening, individuals will either be directed to the Emergency Department or their primary care provider for routine or emergent care or to the tent for additional evaluation which could include coordination with the Alabama Department of Public Health for specimen collection and testing of symptomatic individuals.

      “DCH is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the community,” said Blake Lovely, MD, emergency room physician and medical director for the emergency department services at DCH. “DCH felt it was important to offer resources for educating the community, responding to questions and concerns and facilitating the testing process.”

      DCH’s COVID-19 task force is made up of leadership, physicians, nurses, infection prevention, safety and other experts and has been meeting several times a week to plan and stay up to date with the latest information surrounding the coronavirus.

      Other than limiting patient visits, the DCH campuses remain open and are operating normally.

      As of right now there has been one confirmed COVID-19 case in Tuscaloosa County. The individual was not admitted to DCH.

      In the interest of public health, DCH suggests a few tips to help stop the spread of this virus.

      • Frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
      • Stay away from others if you are sick and only come to the hospital if they need medical care.
      • Limit visits to individuals in the hospital, even if you think you are well.
      • Avoid travel, especially to areas that have laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases.
      • Sanitize high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, keyboards and desks.
      • Look to the Alabama Department of Public Health or the CDC for accurate and up-to-date information.
      March 13, 2020
      The Alabama Department of Public Health reported that the first confirmed case of the Coronavirus Friday, March 13.  DCH has taken every precaution to provide for the safety of our patients and our staff.  We have treated communicable diseases for many years, so we understand the precautions that must be taken in terms of isolating patients, limiting visitors and having employees wear protective clothing. Plans are in place.

      We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

      The leadership team at DCH Health System is working to take every precaution to keep our employees, physicians, patients and visitors safe. We have a team of leadership, infectious disease, safety, and other experts meeting several times a week to stay up to date with the latest information surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). We will continue to update this page and our social media channels as new information becomes available.

      DCH continues to closely monitor the situation and has continued to initiate actions and processes to be prepared should a patient test positive. Below are some updates in that ongoing effort.

      • Work-related travel is being restricted or cancelled and DCH is encouraging employees and the community to limit personal travel.

      • Individuals with flu-like symptoms are being encouraged to only come to the hospital if they need medical care. They should not visit others. Signs discouraging visits have been placed at main entrances and further restrictions may be implemented.

      General precautions remain the same and are listed below as a reminder.

      • Travel history questions are asked at triage in Emergency Departments and other points of patient contact. 

      • Signs are in Emergency Departments to alert patients to notify staff immediately if they have traveled recently and have fever, cough, or trouble breathing.

      • Per CDC recommendations, such patients will be provided a surgical mask and be evaluated in a private room.

      • Patients who are suspected of having the virus will be evaluated in proper isolation precautions (protective clothing including a mask, face shield and gloves) and discussed with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

      • Patients who meet criteria to be investigated for coronavirus will be placed in appropriate isolation precautions per CDC guidelines.

      For more information, click here.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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