Maintaining Your Health, Ensuring Your Safety

May 14, 2020

By Ed Freysinger, CEO

As healthcare providers, patient wellbeing is our chief concern every day of the year. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, part of how we kept our community safe was limiting elective and non-urgent procedures at UP Health System – Portage.

Currently, the threat of COVID-19 in our community seems to be under control, allowing our community to start re-opening and UPHS – Portage to begin gradually resuming time-sensitive, non-urgent procedures.

For some, this change is a welcome return to maintaining personal health and addressing medical issues. For others, this news may cause anxiety about safety. I’d like to address these concerns with the hope of relieving fears that might make people overly cautious about seeking care and treatment.

Expanding care – cautiously and safely

Maintaining patient health is vital – but healthcare should never come at the cost of safety.  At UPHS – Portage, you don’t have to decide between health and safety.  Rest assured that we would not have resumed time-sensitive, non-urgent procedures if we didn’t have the resources and processes in place to do so safely. You can rely on your medical team to keep you protected while addressing your medical needs. 

Throughout the pandemic, our team at UPHS – Portage has been focused on conserving key resources – including personal protective equipment (PPE), beds for patients, and other critical supplies. Due to our teams’ stewardship, we have adequate supplies to begin resuming certain time-sensitive, non-urgent procedures. 

Maintaining a safe environment for all

Keeping our facilities sanitary and disinfected has always been a top priority. Now more than ever, cleanliness is imperative as we fight against infectious diseases such as COVID-19. 

To that end, when you enter our facilities, be assured that great intention has gone into maintaining cleanliness. One of the core elements of properly managing infectious diseases is the cleanliness of our physical facility. Our Housekeeping team ensures all public areas and all high touch surfaces are disinfected at least daily, with high volume areas disinfected multiple times daily. They monitor all cleaning, waste management, linen utilization, quality assurance of continually validating the team to ensure they are utilizing the proper PPE, chemicals, and cleaning procedures to keep the hospital safe for our patients as well as all staff and visitors.

Enhancing safety with new protocols

As we broaden our services, things look a little different than before COVID-19. For instance, patients won’t see much of our faces due to the masks and PPE our medical staffers are wearing. While this is not ideal because connecting with our patients encourages us all, such protection is essential to keeping our patients and staff alike safe. Underneath the masks, know that there are healthcare workers who care very much about your health and wellbeing. 

Along with having proper PPE, staff members are being screened daily for the virus.  Patients are being screened as they enter our facilities as well, and those who haven’t brought their own masks are being issued cloth ones to wear. 

We also are taking steps to limit the number of people in our facility. Out of an abundance of caution, we are maintaining our strict no-visitor policy. Additionally, we are limiting patient volume for time-sensitive, non-urgent procedures, assessing the situation on a week-by-week basis. 

Monitoring the situation

Ultimately, I want to reassure you that UPHS – Portage is constantly assessing where we are on COVID-19 and making decisions based on the most current data available. While we are confident that we have the resources and capabilities to expand services safely at this time, if at any point we determine that is no longer the case, we will immediately reverse course.

This pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us. As your local ally in healthcare, we are always seeking ways to best serve our community. In doing so, we are balancing two essential priorities: meeting the medical needs of our neighbors and mitigating the threat this virus poses. For more information about our services and our COVID-19 policies and procedures, visit PortageHealth.org.

For frequently asked questions for patients, visit PortageHealth.org/your-health-our-heroes.