November 16, 2020
From the Daily Hampshire Gazette
CDH: The Pandemic is not Done with Us
CDH: The pandemic is not done with usThe holidays are approaching, weather has turned colder and we understand the weariness many people feel with the way the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. The emotional, financial and other challenges are daunting. You may have heard the statement “it doesn’t matter if we feel done with the pandemic, it is not done with us.” This could not be more true.
We are facing an uncertain winter, with cases of COVID-19 rising across the nation, across Massachusetts, and here in the Pioneer Valley. Last week the governor issued new mandates aimed to curb the increasing numbers of people being infected. At Cooley Dickinson Hospital, we have seen our seven day test positivity rate increase — from a low of 0.2 % to above 2% over the past month — as more people test positive for coronavirus. We are also seeing more people hospitalized with the virus.
Through the summer rates were lower — due in large part to the efforts of each and every one of you to physically distance, wash your hands, and importantly to wear a mask. Thank you! The collective impact of each of your individual actions has made a difference.
There is good news in the midst of the pandemic — good news about improvements in treatment, the possibility of a vaccine — and also about our ability to decrease infections by the choices we make every day. We were successful over the summer months and we can be successful again.
Now, with COVID-19 rising, we ask you to please redouble your efforts. Please follow the governor’s mandates and all public health guidance: wear a mask everywhere you go, maintain physical distance, always wash your hands, and limit indoor gatherings, for the holidays or any other reason, to your household. Indoor transmission is becoming more common as the weather gets colder. It will take all of us, but we can slow the spread in our community if we all work together.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital,
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Estevan Garcia
Cooley Dickinson Hospital,
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Joanne Levin
November 10, 2020
Cooley Dickinson enacts the strictest health & safety precautions to protect you (and us) from COVID-19 infections. It is our number one priority to keep patients and staff safe, and we practice every element of our Safe Care Commitment every day. Many of our providers have spoken on the importance of not delaying your care, in their various spheres of expertise. Please watch their short videos below and be reassured that all of them are looking out for your health and safety every time they see you:
Don’t Delay Emergency Care:
Khama Ennis, MD, Associate Chief of Emergency Medicine, Cooley Dickinson Hospital
Don’t Delay Cardiac Care:
Ali Haider, MD, Hampshire Cardiovascular Associates
July 1, 2020
From the Daily Hampshire Gazette
June is Pride month, a time when people throughout our nation come together to celebrate and stand up for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
While the pandemic and the appropriate outrage sparked by the death of George Floyd have dominated the news and our conversations, the need to fight for the rights of LGBTQ people has never been more important.
Many of us are cheering that on Monday, June 15, the Supreme Court banned discrimination in the work place based on sexual orientation or gender identify. While this is an important milestone, just three days earlier, we took a giant step back. On June 12, the Trump administration finalized a rule effectively eliminating federal protections in health care for transgender people. While expressing vehement opposition to the Trump administration’s latest attack on human rights, we at Cooley Dickinson Hospital want to make sure all in our community understand the Massachusetts and local environment.
In Massachusetts, state law protects transgender people’s rights to access health care and also protects them in housing, employment, education and public accommodations. Cooley Dickinson’s Patient Bill of Rights also prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender identity and expression, as well as age, race, national origin, culture, ethnicity, religion, language, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, or payment source. Regardless of the change in the interpretation of the federal law, Cooley Dickinson remains committed to equal rights for transgender people, and for everyone it serves.
In addition, Cooley Dickinson is proud to have multiple providers with expertise in the health care needs of transgender patients. Cooley Dickinson has also provided training for staff to ensure that its values of diversity and equitable care for transgender people are implemented in all the services it provides and that we are continuously improving in this regard.
Cooley Dickinson will continue to serve our entire community and advocate for change to improve the health of everyone, especially those traditionally marginalized as we know is the case with people of color and the LGBTQ community.
CEO, Cooley Dickinson Hospital
June 5, 2020
Our Responsibility: We Must Be a Better Health Care System
In the last three months, we have all heard the question “when will we get back to normal”? But in those same three months, we have been reminded – over and over again – that “normal” is not good enough, especially for so many people of color in our country. Last week, with the outrageous murder of George Floyd by a white policeman, we were witness again to the risk that black men and women face every day. The murder of George Floyd followed closely behind the brutal shooting death of a black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, in Atlanta by a former white police officer; Christian Cooper a black man birdwatching in Central Park who was reported to the police for reminding a white woman to leash her dog; and Breoanna Taylor, a young black EMT in Louisville Kentucky shot to death by police as she slept in her home. These are just the most recent of so many acts of violence against people of color in our country.
In addition, the impact of COVID illustrates again the many ways that structural racism results in worse health outcomes for people of color. The demographics of COVID+ patients in hospitals and the death rates from COVID are disproportionately made up of people of color. It’s a tragic reminder of how income, job type, reliance on public transportation, poor housing, food insecurity, and underlying health conditions (often resulting from social determinants of health) bring higher rates of sickness and death among people of color.
Some wonder if they can really make a difference. I would say we have no choice but to try. I know that not talking about the incredible injustice that the death of George Floyd reflects is not the path to positive change. But talking about it and expressing outrage is also not enough. We have to refuse to tolerate the blatant and as important — subtle — forms of racism in the nation and, yes, even here in our “bubble” of the Pioneer Valley. We need to further our work at Cooley Dickinson, both as the major provider of health care in our community and as an employer.
I pledge to all of you our commitment to take seriously our responsibility to work to be a better health care provider, employer, and leader in our community to not return to “normal” when it comes to social justice and racism. We must be better.
President & CEO
Cooley Dickinson Health Care
MAY 6, 2020
We are stronger together! Joanne Marqusee, president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, joined forces with local hospital CEO’s from Baystate Health, Berkshire Medical Center, and Mercy Medical Center to share the top 5 ways to keep yourself, your family, and community safe from COVID-19 and address other emergency care needs.
Through these challenging times, we are proud to work together as a united team supporting the health and well-being of the western Mass community. We thank you all for doing your part in overcoming the pandemic.
¡Juntos somos más fuertes! Joanne Marqusee, presidente y directora ejecutiva de Cooley Dickinson Health Care unió fuerzas con los directores ejecutivos de los hospitales locales: Baystate Health, Berkshire Medical Center, y Mercy Medical Center, para compartir las 5 mejores maneras para mantenerse usted, su familia y su comunidad a salvo del CoVID-19 y otros cuidados de emergencia. A través de estos tiempos difíciles, estamos orgullosos de trabajar juntos como un equipo apoyando la salud y el bienestar de la comunidad del Oeste de Massachusetts. Les agradecemos a todos ustedes por hacer su parte para superar esta pandemia.
APRIL 20, 2020
Update from Cooley Dickinson to Our Community From Joanne Marqusee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cooley Dickinson Health Care
It’s been over five weeks since COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. Cooley Dickinson has been taking actions to reduce spread in our community and preparing for the projected increase in patients needing care. It’s been over a month since most visitors were permitted in the hospital, elective procedures were cancelled, almost all outpatient visits performed over the phone or video, and over a week that all must wear masks on Cooley clinical sites.
During these weeks, we also continue to reach out (virtually) to our community, to keep you informed about what we are doing for you, for our workforce, and about what you can do to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We know you are nervous about the virus and the many changes it is bringing; we are here for you for both COVID-19 related concerns and all your other healthcare needs.
I’d like to share with you the most recent information and guidance.
By the Numbers
The good news is that the increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been slower than anticipated and, in fact, has recently plateaued. The trending suggests that social distancing and other infection control practices are making a real difference. While we may still see an uptick in cases, the number of COVID patients requiring hospitalizations is likely to be much less severe than projected. Our entire community deserves credit and thanks for making a difference! Thank you!
Does this mean we can relax? Absolutely not! It means that social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing masks, cleaning of surfaces — all of these actions are slowing the spread of this virus. What it means is that we should remain diligent.
We’re Here to Meet Your Health Care Needs
While there is so much focus on COVID-19, other medical needs are still important to address. If you have a chronic health condition, injury and are experiencing symptoms of a stroke, heart attack or other life-threatening emergency, please don’t wait to seek care and risk developing a more acute illness.
We are following best practices in infection control and providing care in a way that’s safe for our staff and patients. If you need medical care, call your provider and you can get a phone or video appointment or, if needed, an in-person appointment.
We have procedures to minimize the risk to you and our providers/staff, including waiting in your car rather than a waiting room until your provider is ready to see you, masks for all staff and all patients, and separate sites so those with respiratory illness are seen in a different location than people with non-respiratory illnesses and injuries.
We have greatly expanded our ability to test for COVID-19 and therefore are continuing to expand the criteria for who can get testing and are able to get results much more quickly. A referral from your primary care provider is required for testing. If you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms, please call your primary care provider. If you don’t have one, our community call center is here to help. Call them at 1-888-554-4234.
We are particularly grateful for how our community has stepped forward to support us. From donations of supplies to food for our front-line staff to heartfelt expressions of support and financial gifts, we feel and appreciate how much you care and appreciate us and, particularly our staff. We continue to welcome and need your generous support.
I’d also like to thank our staff, who are going above and beyond for you every day. They are committed to providing the highest quality, safest care – now more than ever.
The sacrifices you are making every day in social distancing, diligent handwashing and mask wearing, and more are having a positive impact! While we are experiencing less of a surge in cases than was projected, please continue to follow these important measures. It will help keep you and others healthy and help Cooley Dickinson be able to meet your health care needs now and into the future. Thank you for all you are doing to slow the spread of this disease.
APRIL 4, 2020
Update to the community from Joanne Marqusee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cooley Dickinson Health Care
First, I want to reassure you that Cooley Dickinson is here for the community. We are doing everything we can to take care of patients already impacted by this virus and to prepare for the increased number of patients expected over the next several weeks. Our mission is to provide high quality health care to people in the Pioneer Valley and we are focused on that, now more than ever.
Testing: We receive many questions about testing. While testing capacity is improving, it is still quite limited. Thus Cooley, like all hospitals, are applying strict criteria for who gets tested. Currently, this includes people in the hospital and health care workers with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as patients referred from PCPs whose symptoms may require more care than the many people with minor symptoms who are being told to self-isolate at home. If you are experiencing symptoms, please call your primary care provider. If you don’t have one, our community call center can help you obtain one. Cooley has many providers accepting new patients.
Surge Capacity: We are working hard to create “surge” capacity so that we are prepared to take care of the anticipated significant increase of patients needing hospital care, particularly Intensive Care Unit (ICU)-level care. We will be able to at least double our inpatient capacity (compared to our normal operating levels) if/when needed through creative use of all clinical space, equipment and staff. Particularly important, we will be able to roughly triple the number of intensive care patients we can serve. We are also expanding Emergency Department capacity. It is difficult to know if that will be enough, and we will continue to work to maximize our capacity.
We are grateful for the knowledge and resources being part of Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare brings to us every day. We follow best practices from across the system, and from the Centers for Disease Control and other organizations. We are also collaborating with other hospitals and health care organizations across western Massachusetts on surge planning and how together we can best meet the needs of our communities.
The State is also planning for additional capacity by setting up some “field hospitals” in a few sites and identifying nursing homes that can be dedicated to COVID-positive patients. We advocate for this and other assistance from the state and federal governments.
Outpatient care: Our medical practices, physical, occupational and speech therapy and other outpatient services have rescheduled non-urgent and wellness visits, and have implemented virtual and telephone visits as a way to deliver care without having people come into the office when possible. Please contact your providers office for more information. Our Southampton Urgent Care location is open for non-respiratory illnesses. Our Orthopedic Injury Clinic in Hatfield has expanded its hours and is open 8 am – 8 pm Monday – Friday beginning Monday 4/6, and Saturday and Sunday, noon – 8 pm beginning Saturday 4/11 for orthopedic injuries such as fractures, strains, sprains, dislocations and lacerations, so people do not have to go to the Emergency Department should they get injured.
Community Outreach: Particularly at a time like this, we view our role to extend beyond serving the clinical needs of our community. We are focusing heavily on finding ways to keep our community informed about what they should do and about what Cooley is doing. We have set up a COVID-19 section of the website, which includes recent updates, information for the public and our most recent COVID-19 metrics. You can access it here:
The coronavirus is a new (‘novel’) pathogen that has emerged in the past few months.Many of its characteristics are still unknown at this time, though many studies are ongoing or have been completed in the U.S. and in areas of the world that have experienced outbreaks of the virus already.
In addition, we have established a COVID-19 community call center, staffed Monday – Friday from 8 am – 6:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8 am – 5 pm by health care workers who can field general questions about COVID-19. Those types of inquiries include how and where to donate medical-grade supplies; how to access a primary care provider, if someone doesn’t have one; and where to seek care for something other than a respiratory illness, such as urgent care or the orthopedic injury clinic. The Community Call Center phone number is 1-888-554-4234
Thank you! We at Cooley Dickinson greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from the community. Donations of funds and supplies, patience and understanding about our strict guidelines regarding visitors and staying home with minor symptoms, offers to provide services to staff such as exercise and yard work, and letters as well as social media expressing their appreciation for Cooley and our staff – all of these mean the world to us. Thank you!
The staff at Cooley have been nothing short of amazing. I am in awe of their commitment to our patients, our community, and each other. We are doing all we can to support them, through expressions of gratitude, use of best practices to protect them, a wage security program, opportunities to work remotely, and various resources for their emotional and mental health.
It is of paramount importance that everybody do all they can to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Whatever you were doing yesterday, double your efforts today. Social distancing, hand hygiene, surface cleaning: we all must do all of these. Our community will be better off, and Cooley will be better able to meet the needs of our community.
Actualización a la comunidad de parte de Joanne Marqusee, presidente y directora ejecutiva de Cooley Dickinson Health Care
Primero, quiero reasegurarles que Cooley Dickinson está aquí para la comunidad. Estamos haciendo todo lo que podemos para cuidar a los pacientes que ya han sido afectados por este virus y a la vez prepararnos para el aumento del número de pacientes que se esperan dentro de las próximas varias semanas. Nuestra misión es proporcionar cuidados de salud de alta calidad a las personas del Pioneer Valley y ahora más que nunca estamos enfocados en eso.
Pruebas: Hemos recibido muchas preguntas sobre las pruebas. Aun cuando la capacidad de hacer pruebas está mejorando, todavía está bastante limitada. Tanto en Cooley como en otros hospitales estamos aplicando criterios estrictos sobre a quién se le hace la prueba. Actualmente esto incluye a las personas en el hospital y los trabajadores de la salud con síntomas de COVID, así como también los pacientes remitidos por su doctor de cabecera (PCP por sus siglas en inglés) cuyos síntomas puedan requerir mayor cuidado que muchas personas con síntomas menores a quien se les ha dicho que se auto aíslen en casa. Si usted está teniendo síntomas, por favor llame a su doctor de cabecera. Si usted no tiene uno, nuestro centro de llamadas para la comunidad puede ayudarle a conseguirlo. Cooley tiene muchos doctores aceptando nuevos pacientes.
Capacidad de reacción: Estamos trabajando duro para crear “capacidad de reacción” para entonces estar preparados para atender el aumento significativo previsto de pacientes que necesiten atención hospitalaria, particularmente aquellas personas que necesiten atención de nivel de cuidados intensivos (ICU sus siglas en inglés). Nosotros podremos al menos duplicar nuestra capacidad para hospitalizar pacientes (en comparación a nuestro nivel normal de operaciones) de ser necesario a través del uso creativo de todo el espacio clínico, equipos y personal. Es particularmente importante mencionar que podremos triplicar aproximadamente, el número de pacientes hospitalizados de cuidados intensivos que podemos atender. Nosotros estamos también expandiendo la capacidad de nuestro departamento de emergencias. Es difícil saber si eso será suficiente y continuaremos maximizando nuestra capacidad.
Estamos agradecidos por el conocimiento y los recursos que recibimos diariamente al formar parte del Massachusetts General Hospital y Partners Health Care. Seguimos los mejores procedimientos recomendados de todo el Sistema, de los centros para el control de enfermedades (Centers for Disease Control en inglés) y otras organizaciones. También estamos colaborando en el planeamiento de la capacidad de reacción con otros hospitales y organizaciones de cuidados de salud a lo largo del oeste Massachusetts y en como juntos podemos cubrir mejor las necesidades de nuestras comunidades.
El estado esta a su vez planeando capacidad adicional creando algunos hospitales de campaña en algunos lugares e identificando ancianatos que pueden ser dedicados a el cuidado de pacientes positivos de COVID. Nosotros abogamos por esta y otra asistencia del estado y el gobierno federal.
Atención ambulatoria: Nuestras oficinas médicas, Fisioterapia, terapia ocupacional y del habla, así como otros servicios ambulatorios han reprogramado las visitas no urgentes y de control o de rutina y a su vez han implementado la telemedicina como una manera de proporcionar a las personas cuidados sin que tengan que ir a la oficina en la medida de lo posible. Por favor contacte la oficina de su doctor para obtener más información. Nuestra clínica de urgencias en Southampton está abierta para enfermedades no respiratorias. Nuestra clínica de lesiones ortopédicas en Hatfield ha expandido su horario y está abierta de 8 am a 8 pm de lunes a viernes a partir del lunes 6 de abril y sábados y domingos desde el mediodía hasta las 8 pm a partir del sábado 11 de abril para lesiones ortopédicas como fracturas, esguinces, desgarres, dislocaciones y laceraciones para que las personas no tengan que ir a la sala de emergencias si se llegan a lastimar.
Alcance Comunitario: Particularmente en tiempos como estos, consideramos que nuestro papel se extiende más allá de atender las necesidades clínicas de nuestra comunidad. Nos estamos enfocando fuertemente en maneras para mantener a nuestra comunidad informada sobre lo que deberían hacer y lo que está haciendo Cooley. Hemos creado una sección sobre el COVID-19 en nuestra página web, la cual incluye actualizaciones recientes, información para el público y nuestras más recientes mediciones sobre pacientes evaluados y positivos de COVID-19. Usted puede tener acceso a esto en este enlace: https://www.cooleydickinson.org/home/coronavirus-resources/
En añadidura, hemos establecido un centro de llamadas para la comunidad sobre el COVID-19, atendido de lunes a viernes de 8 am a 6:30 pm y sábados y domingos de 8 am a 5 pm por trabajadores de la salud quienes pueden responder preguntas sobre el COVID-19. Esos tipos de preguntas incluyen, como y donde donar suministros médicos, como contactar a un doctor de cabecera si alguien no tiene y donde buscar atención para otras afecciones diferentes a enfermedades respiratorias; tales como la clínica de urgencias y la de lesiones ortopédicas. El número de teléfono del centro de llamadas para la comunidad es 1-888-554-4234.
¡Gracias! En Cooley Dickinson apreciamos enormemente la increíble cantidad de apoyo de la comunidad. Donaciones de fondos y suministros, paciencia y entendimiento sobre nuestras estrictas pautas de visitas y de quedarse en casa con síntomas menores, ofrecimientos para proporcionar servicios al personal tales como cuidar de sus perros, trabajos del jardín y cartas, así como también expresiones de agradecimiento en las redes sociales para Cooley y nuestro personal – Todas estas muestras de apoyo representan el mundo para nosotros. ¡Gracias!
El personal de Cooley ha sido no menos que increíble. Estoy impresionada de su compromiso con nuestros pacientes, nuestra comunidad y los unos con los otros. Estamos haciendo todo lo que podemos para apoyarlos, a través de expresiones de gratitud, el uso de los mejores procedimientos recomendados, un programa de seguridad de salarios, oportunidades para trabajar remotamente y varios recursos para su salud emocional y mental.
Es de suma importancia que todo el mundo haga todo lo que pueda para reducir la propagación del COVID19. Cualquier cosa que haya estado haciendo ayer, duplique sus esfuerzos hoy. Distanciamiento social, higiene de las manos, limpieza de las superficies – todos debemos hacer todo esto. Nuestra comunidad estará mejor y Cooley podrá satisfacer mejor las necesidades de nuestra comunidad.
Cooley Dickinson CEO Joanne Marqusee on the Bill Newman Show
President & CEO Joanne Marqusee discusses the COVID-19 outbreak as of today, preparedness, cooperative coordination between western Mass. hospitals, our gratitude to our community for its amazing outreach and most importantly, what you can do to help keep health care workers and yourself safer.
Editorial from President and CEO Joanne Marqusee
From the March 21 Daily Hampshire Gazette
I write to you — our community, our patients, staff and friends — during this unprecedented time for the nation and the world. We now face a public health crisis unlike any that we have experienced in our lifetimes. We at Cooley Dickinson understand how confusing, concerning, and rapidly changing the current healthcare situation is.
We are doing all we can to be here for you as your health care provider and as your source of credible, up-to-date information. We appreciate all you are doing to follow the critically important suggestions from credible sources such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have not yet adopted these strategies, we urge you to do so! Precautions like hand washing, social distancing and the closure of public spaces help slow the spread of the disease. We need everyone to follow those directives. By every one of you doing all you can to reduce the spread, you not only protect yourself and your loved ones, but you also help us better meet the needs of those who do become sick. We thank you.
We also appreciate your understanding as we make changes to reduce spread — like eliminating visitors and cancelling or rescheduling non-urgent appointments and procedures that we know create inconvenience, hardship and concern. Thank you for your understanding, flexibility and patience.
At Cooley Dickinson, and at every healthcare organization, we are always preparing for emergencies and that preparation is serving us well right now. BUT this is different and we are all feeling that. With our first presumptive positive tests for COVID-19, and the likelihood that more people will be infected in the days and weeks to come, I know there is incredible concern in the community. We are here for you. And we are adopting best practices, based on the most current information and resources from Massachusetts General Hospital and from across the Partners Healthcare system as well as CDC and DPH.
We are also working closely with the other western Massachusetts hospitals and advocating through our local legislators, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, state agencies and directly to the federal government to do more. To get the supplies and equipment we need manufactured, to increase testing capacity, to stand up surge capacity clinics and hospitals. We are so grateful for the support we are receiving, particularly from our local, municipal, and state leaders.
At Cooley Dickinson, we have knowledgeable, experienced and wise clinical experts who are making sure we do all we can to provide high quality, safe care, and reduce spread. In addition to doing all we can to meet the current needs, we are working just as hard on planning to “surge” as more people become ill, like developing approaches to increasing our bed capacity, staffing, et al. As we do this, we follow all best practice procedures put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and others.
I am in awe and proud of our staff and providers who have stepped up in so many ways during these unprecedented times. I know how caring, committed and skilled our workforce is. To see them continue to care so well for patients and for each other is extremely gratifying. In addition to the clinical staff, I also want to recognize all the non-clinical and support staff who are also working so hard through this crisis. Their contributions are invaluable. We are doing everything we can to take care of all our staff.
If readers are looking for things they can do: expressions of support and appreciation from the community would mean so much to our staff during this time. If you would like to reach out to them, please use our social media (facebook, twitter and Instagram) or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure those messages are seen by our staff.
We have also established a webpage where we post all the latest information on COVID-19 (https://www.cooleydickinson.org/home/coronavirus-resources/). We update this site regularly and encourage you to visit it. If you have suggestions for the site, or questions, you can leave us feedback right there. We are a resource for you.
Lastly, even though it’s being said in so many places, I would like to reiterate the importance of following all the public health guidelines very strictly, including social distancing. The entire nation, and Cooley Dickinson is no exception, does NOT have the capacity to meet the needs if the spread is as fast and as significant as in some other countries. We still have opportunities to impact that from our own actions. We need you to do your part. Thank you for helping us help you.
An Update to Our Community as of March 17
Rescheduling Patient Procedures; No-Visitor Policy; and Update from Cooley Dickinson Healthcare Leadership; President and CEO Joanne Marqusee, Chief Medical Officer Estevan Garcia, MD, and Chief of Infection Prevention Joanne Levin, MD.
We at Cooley Dickinson fully understand how confusing, concerning and rapidly changing the current health care situation is. Thank you for all you are doing to follow the critically important suggestions from credible sources, such as the Mass Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We want our community to be informed, not only about federal and statewide trends and policies, but also about what is happening right here in our community. Please know that we are making the changes below under the guidance of best practices to slow the spread of infection in our community. And we are planning ahead now and discussing possible contingencies if the situation gets worse.
These are difficult decisions to make and ones that we will continue to reexamine daily as we seek to serve our patients and communities with exceptional, compassionate and personalized care.
In the spirit of transparency during an ever-evolving pandemic, we share the following updates:
RESCHEDULING PATIENT CARE THAT CAN SAFELY BE DEFERRED TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITY SAFE
- Staff are reaching out to patients based on appropriate criteria for each service area to reschedule patients who are scheduled for surgeries or procedures that are safe to defer for at least four weeks. We will check in with patients during that time to ensure that it is still appropriate for their procedures or visits to wait. Surgeries and procedures that cannot wait without harm to patients are still happening.
- Similarly, we are rescheduling patients who have appointments for well visits in our primary care practices, imaging that is not urgent, and rehab visits that can be deferred. Visits and testing that are not clinically appropriate to wait are still happening.
- Despite what you may hear, testing for COVID-19 is still extremely limited. Like all health care organizations, Cooley Dickinson is applying strict criteria for those who get tested. Call your primary care provider if you believe you might need testing.
- We will open a testing clinic as soon as the quantity of testing calls for it.
- We have restructured our primary care practices to separate, as much as possible, people with respiratory illness from those with other medical concerns.
- As of this afternoon, we will have a no visitors policy. (We put in place a one visitor per patient per 24-hour policy last week.) Again, this is to help reduce the spread of the disease.
- We know this will create hardship for patients and their loved ones. There will be limited exceptions such as one person accompanying a Childbirth Center patient, visitors for patients at end-of-life, someone needed to help a patient who is unable to understand and communicate. Please understand that we are instituting this policy to protect everybody. We ask for everybody’s understanding and cooperation.
LAB DRAWING LOCATIONS/PHLEBOTOMY CHANGES
- Due to staffing challenges, some of our Lab Drawing locations at practices are closed. Visit the lab drawing webpage to learn about closures.
Please know that we want to be as helpful as possible to our community, both by giving safe care, reducing opportunities to spread the virus, and being a source of up-to-date and accurate information. Thank you for all of your support! And a special thank you to our staff who are working tirelessly to meet your needs today and into the future.
SOME HELPFUL TIPS AND POSTS WE’D LIKE TO SHARE
- What is social distancing? Read this: Social Distancing: It’s Not a Snow Day
- Make sure you are following these 5 steps, every time:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
TALKING WITH CHILDREN ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
We are reaching out to our entire community to ask for your help. We fully understand how confusing and concerning the current health care situation is. We are dedicated to doing all we can to meet the health care needs of our community and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With that in mind, and based on what we know now, please understand the following:
- Despite what you may hear from government officials or others, testing for COVID-19 is still extremely limited. This is true throughout most of the nation. Locally, all health care organizations – including Cooley Dickinson Heath Care – are applying strict criteria for who gets tested. Even if we recommend more testing, there is simply not the capacity in the State of Massachusetts to do it.
- So please do not come to a health care site asking or demanding testing. Not only can we not do it (unless you fall into those very limited categories), but you are out and about more than you need to be.
- If you are ill with fever or respiratory disease, call your primary care provider (do not go to their office) and they will determine with you the most appropriate course of action.
KEEPING OUR COMMUNITY HEALTHY
- We are focused on keeping our health care staff healthy – so we can provide care in the future. Please do all you can to not come to the Emergency Department or your doctor’s office if you have symptoms that are mild.
WHY WE CHANGED OUR VISITOR POLICY
- We made the difficult decision to change our visitor policy, and we recognize it may be difficult for patients and their loved ones. This temporary change is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our community healthy. Thank you for understanding.
STAY CURRENT; VISIT CREDIBLE WEBSITES
- As the status is changing quickly and to get the most up-to-date information, visit credible websites, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health; for specific Cooley Dickinson updates, visit the Q&A page on our website.
- And finally, follow all recommendations about hand hygiene and social distancing. We are all in this together and can all help to mitigate the spread and the panic.
Our community is known for how it cares for one another and pulls together in challenging times. We thank you for helping us help you.