COVID-19 Update: What does your hospital look like now?
Hospitals across the country are committed to the safety of patients and their loved ones while delivering high quality patient care. The last 11 months as COVID-19 has surged across the United States, there have been many changes in hospital policies in order to help maintain patient safety and reduce transmission of the virus. Healthcare workers have had varying experiences with the impact of these changes depending on their hospital. Each hospital in the United States has similar policies, and others have been different. One thing is the same across the board: Evolving policy and hospital-wide change was inevitable.
Several nurses and NP’s were surveyed about what their personal experience with their hospital-wide policy changes and how their hospital looks now almost a year into the pandemic. There were similarities and differences in their answers based on the area they live and the patient population they treat.
An ICU nurse’s response from Dayton, Ohio.
Since March 2020, what were some big changes that happened at your hospital due to COVID-19? “Once changes were made to visitor restrictions they have not loosened. I know other hospitals in Ohio have loosened their visitor restrictions and allow visitors, but in my unit there are still no visitors allowed. One visitor is allowed to deliver patient belongings to the unit, but they are not allowed to enter the unit. I am hoping with a few vaccines recently on the market that we are nearing the end of this pandemic.”
What are some complications you have seen in COVID-19 patients? “I have seen patients of all ages have blood clots and heart problems. For example, a 20 year old patient with no prior cardiac history had to be put on a Holter Monitor to track her new onset of irregular heart rhythm.”
Have you experienced another spike or were the numbers higher last year? “The days leading up to Christmas we definitely saw another spike. The number of patients have since gone down, so they were higher last year than they are currently.”‘
A surgical NP’s response from Hendersonville, NC.
Since March 2020, what were some big changes that happened at your hospital due to COVID-19? “Obviously wearing a mask at all times was a really big change for visitors, patients, and staff. They also changed the visitor policy to only 1 visitor per patient and this has remained the same for many months. For the surgery department, this one visitor that is the patient’s ride home from surgery cannot stay in the hospital while the procedure is being done. Even if the procedure is only 30 minutes long, the visitor has to go to their car or somewhere else.”
What are the complications you have seen from COVID-19 patients? “Pulmonary embolisms are the most common complication I have seen personally.”
Have you experienced another spike or were the numbers higher last year? “The numbers are higher this year. The first few weeks of January we had a huge influx of patients.”
An ER nurse’s response from Springfield, MO.
Since March 2020, what were some big changes that happened at your hospital due to COVID-19? “In March it was just everyone who stepped foot in the building had to wear a mask and get a temperature check at the door. Then as June came and the numbers in Missouri began to dramatically rise, visitors in the ER were limited to one, and then no visitors. This lasted until recently, and now a maximum of two visitors are allowed back with a patient. My hospital created a COVID hall, which housed patients only infected with COVID with negative pressure rooms that weren’t sick enough to be admitted to the ICU.”
What are the complications you have seen from COVID-19 patients? “Heart problems, long lasting pulmonary system damage, and pulmonary embolisms. I have never ran more D-Dimer’s on patients than I have the last few months!”
Have you experienced another spike or were the numbers higher last year? “Definitely around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, the ER was full of COVID patients. This has since tapered off, and there are not nearly as many as there were over the summer or around the holidays. One night my entire team of patients were COVID patients in the ER.”
A Family Nurse Practitioner’s response from Chicago, IL.
Since March 2020, what were some big changes that happened at your hospital due to COVID-19? “My hospital had built a separate tower several years ago in case of an outbreak of infectious disease, such as COVID-19. It has over 30 negative pressure rooms. The ER was divided into three separate units so that COVID patients could be housed away from other patients. The ER can also be converted to enable screening at high volumes. There was screening for the coronavirus in ambulance bays almost right when the virus became known to us.”
What are the complications you have seen from COVID-19 patients? “One of the most troubling I have seen is acute kidney injury (AKI), even with no underlying kidney problems. This is found in the patient’s high level of protein and abnormal blood work. The damage is severe enough in some cases to require dialysis.”
The coronavirus has changed how hospitals deliver care and has affected the operations of facilities nationwide. Over the last 11 months, hospitals have changed their policies in order to keep patients, healthcare personnel, and the general public safe. While these specific policies and experiences differ across the board depending on the location, all healthcare workers have been affected by it in some way. Communication and safety are the top priorities for healthcare organizations, with the hope that the return to normalcy is closer with each passing day.