Thank you to the caregivers of Providence St. Joseph Health for answering the call to serve our patients in this time of need. You are on the front lines of a pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill, and I want you to know your health and safety — and those of our patients — are our top priority.
With the severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) around the globe, we have been placing large orders with suppliers and have been working closely with government officials to ensure we have access to the National Emergency Stockpile. Although we are beginning to receive more shipments, they continue to come at unpredictable times and usually with much smaller quantities than expected.
To ensure we have enough PPE, we have taken additional steps that include:
- Postponing elective surgeries so we can redistribute protective gear to other patient-care areas
- Offering more online virtual care, which also allows us to redistribute PPE to areas of greatest need
- Monitoring patients at home using telehealth capabilities
- Restricting visitors to reduce the risk of exposure in our hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities
- Following CDC guidelines for reuse and extended use of PPE
- Reprocessing masks, following FDA guidelines, to continue to replenish our supply levels
We’ve also taken matters into our own hands by making our own PPE. Manufacturers have stepped up to help us rapidly mass produce surgical masks and face shields, and the American Hospital Association has scaled this effort nationally.
In hardest-hit communities, a mask for every caregiver
With these measures in place, we are pleased to announce that we are moving to the practice of “universal masking.” This means, starting with our hardest-hit communities, we will supply a medical-grade mask to every caregiver who works in a clinical setting at the beginning of each shift.
This practice will roll out across our system as the prevalence of COVID-19 increases in each community. Because this is a fluid situation, there is the possibility that we will need to scale back depending on supply levels. However, we are committed to universal masking in our most affected communities for as long as feasible.
Financial and emotional support for you and your family
During this uncertain time, we are offering several services and programs to support you and your family. For example, we will continue to pay caregivers as normal through the end of April for programs or services we have had to close or pause. We are also offering 80 hours of paid emergency time off for our caregivers to use, if necessary, through the end of May. In addition, we have several other resources to support you, including mental health and well-being services. This custom assessment tool will direct you to the corresponding resources to meet your mental-health and wellness needs.
A public service announcement reminding the public to stay home
Social distancing is an important way members of the public can do their part and help protect everyone. To remind our communities to stay home, we are launching a new public service campaign that drives home the theme, “This isn’t going anywhere, if you go everywhere.”
What personally inspires me about this public service announcement is that it honors our heroes on the front lines. It will launch tomorrow with photos of caregivers in Washington and Oregon, and we look forward to featuring more of you as the campaign evolves.
Understandably, this is a time of tremendous fear and anxiety. We want you to be safe and feel safe, and we hope these efforts bring you and your family some peace of mind. Having cared for the first patient with COVID-19 in the U.S., our caregivers have led the nation through this crisis. With your talent and dedication, I know we will also lead the nation in finding the way out. Again, thank you for all you do.