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Highlighting Your Health

By Vidant Health News

GREENVILLE – When the COVID-19 pandemic started, hospitals in North Carolina postponed many procedures to create capacity for a potential surge in patients. This was in line with decisions made by the state and helped health systems like Vidant Health adequately prepare for the pandemic and proactively implement important safety measures to ensure the health and well-being of patients and team members.

Now that the curve continues to flatten, Vidant is phasing in the essential care and services, defined as any surgery or procedure that, if not done within four weeks, would potentially harm the patient. This includes select general and orthopedic surgeries, cardiac, vascular and gastroenterology procedures.

Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant, said eastern North Carolina has higher rates of chronic conditions and diseases meaning these essential care and services play a large role in caring for the region. He said it will be important to take a phased approach over time to ensure safety of patients and team members.

Waldrum said Vidant is using well-established protocols that reflect guidelines and best practices outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We’ve been able to prepare our health system to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as those with other diseases and conditions,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Our robust testing capacity, screening process for patients and other efforts like universal masking have allowed us to create a safe environment for our patients and our team members.”

In addition, Vidant has superior cleaning techniques, including sterilization and cleaning protocols such as the use of Solaris UV Lytbots.

Vidant’s trained environmental services team ensure all high-touch surfaces are fully sanitized. The phased approach also includes ensuring all Vidant entities have adequate PPE and other supplies.

Vidant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Niti Armistead has a unique perspective on the pandemic and the health system’s response. Tasked with leading providers across the nine-hospital system, Dr. Armistead said that care teams have worked collaboratively through the pandemic to rethink how they can safely provide care for diseases that did not disappear when COVID-19 began.

“What we have seen during this pandemic is that people with diabetes, heart disease and even emergency conditions like a stroke or a heart attack have avoided seeking care as they normally would,” Dr. Armistead said. “A patient’s medical status should direct the best way to meet the need, all the way from emergency room to even a video visit. These safe options are available. It is very important for patients to talk to their providers and together determine how they can best manage their conditions.”

Dr. Armistead said the first step in knowing whether or not a patient’s disease or condition might require access to essential care and services is to contact his or her primary care provider. Across Vidant’s system, she said all providers have been educated and trained to help patients safely receive care during the pandemic.

With these necessary safety measures in place, now is the time for eastern North Carolinians to remain diligent about their chronic illnesses and contact their primary care provider before their health deteriorates. Vidant is still encouraging community members to stay home, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently. These efforts have and will continue to save lives.

“We don’t know what the future holds with COVID-19,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Now is the time to not be afraid and to seek care. Have trust and assurance that Vidant has done everything it can to create a safe environment for our patients.”

To learn more about the steps Vidant is taking to ensure the safety of team members and patients, visit the Essential Care page at vidanthealth.com/essential.