While the world hopes for a more prosperous and healthy 2021 following the national outbreak of COVID-19, caregivers at Burbank’s Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center continue to face the dangerous reality of the virus.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Providence Saint Joe’s housed 22 total patients who were positive for COVID, and at the height of the post-holiday surge there were 160 positive cases in the hospital.
Since the pandemic began, the hospital has received over 6,000 meals donated from members of the community. While staff says they’re very thankful for the generous provisions that have been pouring in throughout the pandemic, current conditions make it challenging to manage and regulate along with safety guidelines and concerns.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of donations over the course of the last eight, nine months, just tremendous from all over the place,” Carol Granados, Director of Hospitality Services at St. Joe’s, said. “We are grateful for the donations from the community. We could feel the love and support. With the increase in the number of patients, the food donations are probably not our first line of defense right now primarily because of the staff needed to coordinate the donations.”
Instead, staff is emphasizing the importance of adhering to safety precautions in order to prevent further spreading of COVID-19. Moreover, guidelines such as wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining a six-foot distance from others should still be diligently followed by everyone, even after receiving a vaccine.
“We need everyone to continue to mask and socially distance and we need everyone to understand that even if you’ve received the vaccine, we still need you to wear a mask,” said Kirsten Holguin, Saint Joe’s Director of Communications. “[Not following guidelines is] going to make it harder for the community and the hospital to get through this and cause the number of cases to continue to rise.”
Some people nevertheless limit their adherence to crucial health and safety guidelines, even though COVID ravages on and persists as a very significant threat to the world’s collective health. Consequently, hard-working staff members at Saint Joe’s have been frustrated with the ensuing rising number of cases.
To support the caregivers involved in direct patient care, staff members like St. Joe’s Director of Neuroscience Operations and Community Engagement, Terry Walker, have been volunteering their time in departments throughout the hospital where extra support is needed. The mental health of workers is a top concern with how stressful and taxing the work has proven to be under present conditions.
“Day after day [staff is] doing the same thing over and over again, … trying to educate, trying to save lives. It’s creating a very emotional and exhausting time for our staff,” Walker said.
When the pandemic started, hospital leadership developed a surge plan that was put in place when the numbers of patients consistently rose. Fortunately, Saint Joe’s had a tower where they were able to group the COVID positive patients together and carry out treatment.
The first stop for many patients seeking medical care is the emergency department. The Emergency Services Minutes Matter Campaign started several years ago to fund a new emergency department and urgent care. When the campaign began, the hospital and Providence Saint Joseph Foundation could never have imagined COVID-19’s impact on their operations. Now more than ever there is a critical need to fund a larger space with more beds and advanced imaging and labs to aid in the vital work that E.R. doctors at Saint Joe’s perform.
Construction on these additions is underway and the steel structure is now visible as the Jaromír Střížka Emergency Department and Cusumano Family Urgent Care have been funded with the generous support of the community.
“The Minutes Matter Campaign is really important that people continue to support so we can meet the demand for emergency care and plan for the future,” said Walker.
Staff is also urging anyone with serious symptoms to receive treatment as soon as they need it rather than delaying going in to get help. With media reports of full ICUs, patients have been waiting to go in for essential medical care. The sooner symptoms get treated, the less chance patients will need care in the ICU department and the higher the likelihood of a smooth recovery.
“If you start to have symptoms of… abdominal pain, if you have chest pain, if you have signs of a stroke, do not delay going to the emergency department,” Holguin said. “If individuals delay going to the emergency department, that can have very detrimental effects on them as individuals and on their care. We’ve… had individuals stay at home with abdominal pain and then have a ruptured appendix because they were worried about coming in.”
Hospital staff has received their first dosage of vaccines and will be administered with a second dosage in the near future. Saint Joe’s will not be distributing vaccines to the public, but their site homepage has a link to information regarding where vaccine clinics can be found throughout Los Angeles County, as well as the soonest you would be able to get vaccinated based on which category you fall under.
Although the virus has surged in numbers from travel over the past couple months, the focus of what can be done now to make things better for all is paramount.
“We can’t help what people did over Christmas and over New Year’s,” Holguin said. “But if today and tomorrow everyone can social distance or quarantine if needed, that’s what we need them to do.”
Right now staff members and patients at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center can seek relief through our generous community members showing they care. The best way to do that is by supporting their campaign for emergency room expansion and continuing to attentively follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“We appreciate that people want to donate food and things like that, and that’s wonderful,” Walker said. “We love that. But they can help us so much more by supporting the E.R. Campaign so that we have the resources in the future to address any kind of medical crises, or to just do the right thing [and take precautions]. That would help us tons.”
To donate to the Emergency Services Minutes Matter Campaign, go here:
To learn more about the Emergency Services Minutes Matter Campaign, visit this informative link:
To learn when and where you’ll be able to get your vaccine in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Orange County, go here: