Though New York’s COVID-19 cases have dramatically decreased over the past couple of months, hospitals are still fighting the virus head-on. But the reduction in numbers …
Though New York’s COVID-19 cases have dramatically decreased over the past cou- ple of months, hospitals are still fighting the virus head-on. But the reduction in numbers also means that they can get back to some of the normal services that they provide.
At Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue, officials have been concerned recently with people who have put off health care out of fear of visiting a hospital during the pandemic. Steps have been taken to isolate COVID-19 patients and make sure that the rest of the hospital is safe for other patients.
“We can assure them that they are in a safe, COVID-free environment,” said LICH president Richard Margulis.
The hospital has dedicated its Knapp Center to deal with non-COVID-related health issues, especially cardiac problems. Elective procedures were allowed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in May, and the hospital has set up new procedures to make that process safe for patients. All incoming patients are screened five days before an appointment with a drive-up service. Staff is also continuously monitored for symptoms.
Margulis said the hospital is sensitive to those who are nervous about coming into a hospital during this time, but has made sure the space is taken care of according to CDC and health expert standards, as well as separating COVID-19 patients in a different part of the hospital. The building is also outfitted with visual markers and different elements explaining exactly what patients or guests need to know upon entering, like where to go, who to speak with, etc. Margulis said this effort is to reduce that major concern people have with getting infected, and help them to focus more on their or their loved ones’ care.
“We’re trying to take that away from people, to relieve them,” he said of those concerns.
The best thing to do before coming into the hospital for a consultation or procedure, he added, is to write down every question you have. There are designated staff members who will be able to answer questions, including a nurse who interviews every patient when they arrive.
“Don’t ignore your health care needs,” Margulis said.
Experts are warning of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, which is largely reliant on human behavior and in coordination with the flu season. Margulis said the hospital is prepared should cases spike again.
“We’re prepared should we start to see a surge in cases,” he promised.
The hospital remains vigilant, he said, and is encouraging the community to continue to follow safety protocols, especially wearing a mask, washing hands often, and staying socially distant. Long Island Community Hospital recently discharged their 700th COVID-19 patient. In January, the hospital implemented an emergency management plan which has helped guide their response and will continue to be updated as they learn new information.
“We have not taken our foot off the accelerator here,” Margulis said of the hospital’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. “I don’t believe that we can let that guard down at all.”