We knew we were in for a marathon, not a sprint, the moment our team in Everett, Wash., admitted the first known U.S. patient with COVID-19 in January. That first case was soon followed by six more when our hospitals in Northern California and Eastern Washington answered the call to care for infected passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Our caregivers have been on the front lines ever since. And I remain incredibly proud of how our team has stepped up to the challenge and set a textbook example that others across the country have followed. To all of our caregivers, thank you for serving our patients with excellence, compassion and dignity under extraordinary circumstances.
With cases continuing to rise and a vaccine at least six to 12 months away, we are only about a third of the way to the finish line. That’s why, at Providence, we’ve outlined a three-part plan to guide our journey ahead. Here’s how we’ve mapped out the course.
1. Respond As we continue to respond to COVID-19, the health and safety of our caregivers and patients are our No. 1 priority. That’s why we’re working with suppliers around the globe to build up our inventory of personal protective equipment. We’re also actively pursuing more options for increasing testing capacity and turnaround times, which have increased due to demand across the country. And thanks to you, we’re continuously improving the way we treat COVID-19. Our clinicians, who were the first in the world to use Remdesivir to treat the virus, have been making rapid clinical breakthroughs that are helping more patients survive and recover faster.
2. Recover We must also safely meet the other non-COVID-19 needs of our patients, as well as adapt to new economic realities. This is the focus of our recovery efforts. Thanks to our caregivers, we are getting caught up on cases that were delayed during the government shut down of non-emergent surgeries. Now, with widespread unemployment expected in our communities, we are preparing to care for more people who may be uninsured or covered by Medicaid. This will require us to revamp our operating model to ensure we can deliver high-quality services more affordably to more people regardless of ability to pay.
3. Renew It’s remarkable to think about how rapidly we innovated to respond to the crisis. Within weeks of the first outbreak, we developed an artificial intelligence “chat bot” to triage patients virtually. We also went from 300 telehealth visits a day to a peak of more than 15,000. And we implemented remote home monitoring through our existing teleICU services. The crisis has catapulted our journey to transform health care. We need to keep the momentum going and renew our commitment to the Providence vision of Health for a Better World.
A marathon is not normally a team sport. But to finish this race, we need to be in it together. Many of us are feeling immense strain from cataclysmic forces converging at once – from the pandemic to the economy to racial inequality.
Recently, we launched our No One Cares Alone campaign to encourage everyone at Providence to connect with at least one colleague a day. I hope you’ll join me in making the commitment to check in with one another and to be fully present and listen. I also encourage our caregivers to take advantage of our confidential behavioral telehealth service.
Wearing a mask in public is another important thing we can do for others. To encourage mask wearing in our communities, we are involved in public service campaigns nationally and locally. Visit our social media channels and search #MyMaskIs to learn more and participate. We can all be an example for safety by wearing a mask in the community.
It’s a long road ahead, and we’ll need to dig deep. But with the dedication our caregivers bring to our Mission, I know we won’t let our communities down. Thank you to everyone at Providence for all you do.