Major employers in the healthcare space found themselves in uncharted waters earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States. Front-line providers had, and continue to have, well-publicized issues around bed space, staffing and equipment. Other businesses in the continuum of care faced major challenges as well, and in the case of Pruitt Health, a centralized hub for business processes turned out to be a significant boost to the company’s pandemic-operations strategy.
“Every year we put together a flu toolkit for our facilities, so it's in a nice, neat package and we send it out to all of our buildings. So back in January, we started pulling out policies. Back in 2008, we created one for H1-N1, and so we started forwarding it around to everybody and seeing what we could use out of it,” says Annette Salisbury, Senior Vice President of Clinical Health Services - Health Care Center at Pruitt Health, a provider of skilled nursing, home health, and hospice agencies that have serviced more than 24,000 patients and have about 16,000 partners. Pruitt operates in four different states: the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, with pharmacy and medical facilities in Virginia and in Alabama.
That led to the creation of work groups, which would mean engaging a wide variety of people since Pruitt is more than just healthcare centers.
“We have hospice, we have home care, we have therapy, we have a med-supply company. So we started looking at who really needs to be on this task force team,” says Salisbury, who also has been a Director of Nursing, Director of Education and a Regional Nurse Consultant, and who serves on the AHCA Quality Committee, the South Carolina Healthcare Association Quality and Education Committee and the Georgia Healthcare Association Quality Committee. “We knew IT was going to be instrumental. We knew pharmacy was going to be in it. We needed operations on the scene. So, we really reviewed our policies and procedures.”
As time went on, keeping abreast of what was happening in various facilities and in the lives of employees informed organizational decisions. Because the team met daily and there was near-constant communication, Pruitt could adapt quickly and pivot to new needs, such as community support, she says.
“We made sure we were prepared and that the buildings had adequate supplies, adequate training, what they needed on the ground to take care of patients and be prepared to accept the new admissions,” she explained. “We also had outreach for the community and were prepared to step up for the hospitals and to admit other patients because we actually designated some buildings in some markets to admit COVID-19 patients from the hospitals in the community.”
Pruitt also activated its emergency operations center, which normally would only come online during a natural disaster. This time around, a command center at the corporate office was used to communicate with partners in the field.
“It looks like a big old command center, too,” Salisbury says. “We run the news on a big-screen TV, and we have telephone setup. We are able to staff the center 24/7 with nursing, IT and other employees. We have incoming calls and a 1-800 line. We call family members and notify them if we have to evacuate the building. During the COVID-19 crisis, we've pushed out information to family members. So, when we had to change our visiting hours, we were able to push notification out through the center. And then we published the number and allowed family members to call in and ask questions about their loved ones.”
The Pruitt team continues to work through the many issues that present themselves in the markets they serve. Different markets mean different state and local health departments, and different sets of regulations, for instance. To learn how those and other issues have been, and are being, dealt with, please enjoy the rest of this Nursing Stand-Up webinar.
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