CEO Message - COVID-19 Update

As members of our Leadership team were assembled on March 26 to discuss plans for how to navigate through the Coronavirus pandemic, we received a COVID-19 test result for a patient who was admitted to our hospital. It was POSITIVE!

We knew very little about this virus. What we did know, however, was how to care for our patients and how to keep one another safe. We have been trained. And trained again. And again. One week later, that same patient went home.

Still, it had just begun. We - our physicians, our nurse practitioners and physician assistants, our nurses, our therapists, our CNAs, our - the list continues -- are healthcare professionals. People look to us for answers - for guidance - on how to stay safe and stay well. We followed, and will continue to follow, the recommendations from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

We restricted visitors to limit everyone's exposure. We accessed only our main hospital entrance and took temperatures, asked questions about conditions, and provided masks to everyone. We segregated well patients from ill patients starting at that main entrance. We required all employees to wear masks and to social distance, and reminded them of what they already knew - to wash their hands thoroughly and often. We disallowed self-service in the cafeteria and required social distancing there, as well. We encouraged patients who were well to postpone their doctor appointments and stay home. We temporarily discontinued scheduled surgeries. We began to conduct patient visits over the telephone and computer. Our region's emergency professionals erected a tent in preparation of a potential insurgence of COVID-19 so we could care for more people who might need us. We focused on staying well and being prepared to care for our communities. And, we strived every minute to take the best care possible of everyone who sought care.

As I write this message, I do so with great admiration for our employees' level of skill, care and compassion they demonstrate 24/7. Five of the nine COVID-19 inpatients for whom we have cared went home after relatively brief hospital stays. Yesterday, the sixth COVID-19 inpatient, one that came into the hospital seven weeks ago, went home! It was a joyous celebration for the patient, family members and our staff, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have provided the care necessary for that return home. Thank you to all of our employees who strive every day to provide excellent care! I am beyond grateful as well for the generosity of community members who selflessly provided food to nourish our staff, masks to protect so many people, and prayers for our hospital.

For those of you who have put your health concerns on hold, please know that we are completely prepared to do our very best to meet your healthcare needs. We encourage you to see your primary care providers, to get the tests they order, and to schedule the surgeries that are needed. Specialist physicians continue to come to our Physician Specialty Clinic and are prepared to care for you. We will continue to do what we can to keep you safe when you are in our facilities. For services we don't offer, we remain very pleased to be affiliated with Sarah Bush Lincoln, which has been recognized as a Top Rural Hospital and is in the top 6 percent of hospitals nationwide for quality and safety.

As I walked through the SBL Fayette County Hospital main lobby Tuesday morning to join the celebration of our COVID-19 patient's departure, the lobby was full - full of our employees who are dedicated to providing excellent and compassionate care to all who trust us to do so. On behalf of our 320 staff members, thank you and stay well!

Greg Starnes,
Chief Executive Officer