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Safely Resuming Patient Care with Safety & Gratitude in Mind

The past few months have given us our fair share of ups and downs. As we’ve navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen our community pull together and do what we can to help keep each other safe and healthy.

At Syracuse Area Health, we are proud of how our team and our community have come together to ensure that we can continue to safely provide the care our patients need.

Donna Armknecht, Director of Quality & Compliance at Syracuse Area Health, shares that for the health care team it was all about evaluating the needs of patients and staff, combined with recommendations from local, state and national health experts, that helped shape the pandemic response.

“We made adjustments as we went,” Donna shares, “From a new patient screening procedure, to offering telehealth visits, limiting visitors, and implementing a universal masking policy, each decision was made with health and safety in mind.”

And now, as we resume all services at Syracuse Area Health, we continue to build upon and adjust protocols to ensure that we are keeping our community safe and minimizing the risk of spreading infection.

For patients coming to Syracuse Area Health for care in the coming weeks and months, they can still expect to see some changes.

“We’ve put together a comprehensive list of what staff need to do to prepare for seeing more patients,” Donna says.“We will continue our universal masking policy and continue to screen patients and staff. We have made some changes to our waiting rooms to provide more distancing. In addition, we’ll be keeping up with any changes in safety and infection control guidelines, so we can implement them as needed.”

Another aspect of resuming full services is ensuring that we have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff, particularly masks.

“We’ve learned how to maximize the utilization of PPE to keep staff and patients safe,” Donna shares.“And a huge part of that has been our mask volunteers.”

Terri Janssen, Fitness Center Supervisor at Syracuse Area Health, has helped coordinate mask donations, and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly community members jumped at the chance to help Syracuse Area Health with their mask supply.

“It was really word of mouth,” Terri shares. “Someone asked if we needed masks one day and it just started spreading from there.”

Before she knew it, multiple donors got to work.

From mother-daughter duos to local churches and the Sundowners Extension Club, dozens of people helped make and donate over a thousand masks and counting.

We’ve had one duo themselves donate over 450 masks for non-clinical staff and patients,” Terri says. “And one family had three generations working to help—a 9-year-old daughter, her dad, and her grandma. It’s amazing.”

And because these types of non-clinical masks are made of cloth, they can be laundered and reused, reducing the need for new masks and further helping Syracuse Area Health and community members stay safe.

Terri also couldn’t leave out the other donors that have helped protect Syracuse Area Health staff.

“We did have donors who gave medical grade masks as well,” she shares.“A rescue team was disbanding and donated their remaining supply of N95 masks. Every donation is so important and appreciated.”

Donors are still working on new masks and providing them to Syracuse Area Health, continuing to demonstrate the generosity of the community we live in.

But, at the heart of it all, it takes a team effort to safely resume services at Syracuse Area Health.

“The whole staff is very in tune with what’s going on and is on the same page,” Donna says. “We have a unified knowledge that we’re working from to keep people safe and continue to evaluate and adjust as needed.”

With the proper precautions in place and a dedication to patient care and continued education, people should feel comfortable coming in for services. Syracuse Area Health is ready and waiting to safely provide the care they need.

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