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          Volume 16 • Issue 12• $5.00        June 2020

                  COVID-19                                   Disaster Preparedness                                      Emergency Department

                                                             Health Care District

                                                           of Palm Beach County:

                                                       Planning for the Pandemic

                                                           and Hurricane Season

                                                         BY DANIEL CASCIATO
                                               As the coronavirus pandemic slowly spread
                                             throughout South Florida this spring, the Health
                                             Care District of Palm Beach County was ready for it
                                             in several ways. First, the organization quickly mobi-
                  Dr. Joshua Lenchus
                                             lized into a remote working environment for its cor-                                   June Ellis
                                             porate staff. Within four days, the IT team succeeded
         Patients Avoiding                   in supporting all 200+ corporate staff with the capa-                              Jackson
                                             bility of working off-site.
                                               “One of the important efforts we also initiated at
                Hospitals                    the same time was an employee hotline staffed by                                Emergency
                                             human resources employees to help respond to con-
           During COVID                      cerns,” explains Darcy J. Davis, CEO of the Health                            Department
                                             Care District of Palm Beach County. “This was
              Crisis Do So                   absolutely critical, as staff began dispersing and we   Darcy J. Davis        Prepared for
                                             still had individuals traveling abroad, as well as the
          at Extreme Risk                    need to address an overall uncertainty about next                            All Situations
                                             steps, pay implications and quarantine procedures.”
                                               Davis continues to film and broadcast weekly video updates to all team members to
                                             keep them updated on key developments across the District.                        BY LOIS THOMSON
                  BY VANESSA ORR               At its outpatient clinics for medical, dental, behavioral and women’s services, Davis
                                             notes that they completely scaled back physical encounters and moved to a heavy   Over the past few months, Jackson
           In the chaos surrounding the COVID-  telemedicine approach.                                                Memorial Hospital's Emergency Depart -
         19 pandemic, many people in Florida   “With the reduced patient volumes, we were able to begin our testing efforts quickly,”   ment has proved it is more than capable of
         with medical issues decided that it   she says. “We initially started testing outside of three of our 10 sites using our mobile   handling an unexpected pandemic; and
         would be better to stay at home than go                                                                      now it is already preparing for the next
         to the hospital. In fact, recent reports                                                 Continued on page 26  challenge: hurricane season.
         from Broward Health and Fort                                                                                   As Associate Chief Nursing Officer of
         Lauderdale Fire Rescue showed an       Century Ambulance vs. Pandemic                                        the Emergency Department and the
         alarming trend of patients choosing self-                                                                    Critical Care Units at Jackson Memorial,
         care at home rather than dialing 911—                 Flexible, Resourceful,                                 June Ellis, DNP, MS, RN, believes the hos-
         with often tragic results.                                                                                   pital has hit a plateau and is definitely see-
           “Emergency medical services (EMS)                                                                          ing a decrease in the amount of patients
         in Fort Lauderdale have seen a tremen-          Innovative Disaster Response                                 coming in with the COVID-19 virus. Part
         dous uptick in ‘dead on arrivals’ (DOAs)                                                                     of that success is the result of the depart-
         when they get to homes,” said Joshua           BY BARBARA R. FALLON                                          ment's set-up.
         Lenchus, D.O., chief medical officer,                                                                          Ellis explained, "Our Emergency
         Broward Health Medical Center. “At    Think how health care partnerships unfolded in                         Depart ment has a unique design. The
         Broward Health, we’ve seen a dramatic   pre-pandemic times. Sometimes there was stop and                     original portion has been added onto, so
         decrease in stroke and heart attack   go progress; sometimes partners found themselves at                    one section is a little older and one is a lit-
         patients coming into the hospital.    cross purposes; sometimes competition got in the                       tle newer. The design enabled us to sepa-
           “These people are electing to forego   way of forward momentum; sometimes health disci-                    rate high-risk patients into one area, and
         emergency medical care for fear of get-  plines worked in silos unaware of impact on others                  all other patients into another." In that
         ting the coronavirus if they come to the   … even with the best intentions.                                  way, patients are assessed and sent to the
         hospital; they don’t think that they will   Now during this one-of-a-kind experience,                        area appropriate for their treatment, help-
         be protected,” he continued. “Sadly, this   Century Ambulance has reenforced its value to the                ing to eliminate cross-contamination.
         supposition—which is incorrect—can   Broward County area, with a business plan utilizing                       She also pointed out that in the initial
         kill them.”                         the company’s community and professional knowl-                          stages of the virus, Jackson erected a tent
           While people were trying to do the   edge and disaster prep planning mindset.                              outside the ED that included a triage
         right thing during the COVID crisis by   “By identifying changing needs and allocating                       group. "Prior to any patient coming in we
         staying out of public facilities and   health care heroes (EMT’s and paramedics skilled in                   asked them very specific questions, such
         avoiding crowded places, Dr. Lenchus   basic and advanced care) and supplies we aim to   Matt Johnson        as have you had any shortness of breath or

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