Balancing act: Avera resumes non-COVID services while caring for coronavirus patients

May 12, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera Health.

Living with COVID – this is a “new normal” for our society and one that health systems like Avera are now ready for.

“When the first COVID cases started happening and things began shutting down, we needed to postpone things like preventive visits, screenings and planned surgeries. We needed to direct our resources toward surge planning and preserving valuable supplies and personal protective equipment,” said Dr. Kevin Post, chief medical officer for Avera Medical Group.

Now that these plans are in place and adequate PPE is in stock, Avera can move forward with phasing in its full range of services. Avera sports and fitness centers also are reopening.

Avera is taking measures so that it can safely care for those COVID cases that continue to crop up, while still taking care of all the health needs of the population it serves.

“Real life continues to happen – heart attacks, strokes, behavioral health conditions, injuries, cancer. We are here for these needs,” Post said. Cancer screenings, checkups and immunizations are preventive needs that need to continue too. Early detection of disease – including cancer – results in the best possible outcomes.

“We want everyone to feel safe in our facilities. No one should ignore symptoms due to fear. That fear may actually end up costing someone their life, especially in the case of an event like heart attack or stroke,” Post said.

“Safety and cleanliness within Avera locations have always been very important. Avera’s already high standard of cleaning and hygiene will be expanded, utilizing industrial-grade cleaning practices. Extra cleaning measures are being taken, especially in the case of high-touch areas such as doorknobs, chair arms and switches.”

Customers and patients will see these extra measures of safety when they visit:

  • There will be spacing stickers on the floors at registration areas.
  • Waiting room chairs will be distanced to create a safe space.
  • Streamlined processes will be in place at registration to result in shorter visits to a facility.
  • Clinic staff will be wearing face masks and other protective equipment as needed.
  • All patients will be screened before entering a facility. This includes taking your temperature and asking if you have experienced possible symptoms or exposure to COVID-19.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in waiting rooms.
  • Visitor restrictions remain in place for clinics, hospitals and long-term care centers.

Patients are urged to wear a cloth face mask when arriving for appointments. If someone does not have a mask, one will be provided. Mask guidelines are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect yourself and others.

Testing has been cited as a major component of reopening and expanding services within a health care system. Providers are determining the need for testing based on medical history, personal needs and the type of procedure a patient is having.

Avera made virtual visits available during the COVID-19 crisis, and virtual visits remain an option for patients who don’t need to be seen in person.

“This technology really helped us serve our patients during this time. We started with a handful of these visits each day, and this grew to 1,000 or more visits a day. COVID-19 has greatly impacted the way we deliver services, and we know our customers and patients have experienced that impact,” Post added.

“We want them to know we’re still here for them. We’re grateful to have reached a point where we can resume services, and we appreciate the trust that people place in our health system.”

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Balancing act: Avera resumes non-COVID services while caring for coronavirus patients

They expected a surge and instead have a steady but manageable flow of COVID-19 patients, so Avera is able to get back to offering more routine medical care.

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