With coronavirus cases declining, Glen Cove Hospital has entered a recovery stage, said Dr. Bradley Sherman, medical director and chairman of the hospital’s Department of Medicine. Now officials there are considering how and whether to continue safety policies and procedures that were enacted at the height of the pandemic.
The hospital, a part of the Northwell Health system, developed protocols to transfer patients from one hospital in its system to another during the Covid-19 outbreak. Previously, that had not been done.
Northwell is now developing a transfer center where patients could wait before being moved from one hospital to another within the system, enabling them to avoid long waits in the emergency room that have, in the past, extended to 12 hours.
“We aren’t sure where the center will be located yet,” said Sherman, adding that Northwell has 24 hospitals. “People would be taken by ambulance to one of the hospitals.”
Glen Cove Hospital is also looking into using telemedicine to allow patients to consult with their doctors remotely, and Amazon Echo and iPads to connect them with their families who must work long hours and cannot make it to the hospital or who live out of state. The hospital used iPads for this purpose during the pandemic, Sherman said.
GCH health care workers have met remotely in large groups via Zoom, which has proven to be an effective communication tool, Sherman said. “We could use this for leadership meetings,” he said.
Visitation continues to be prohibited at GCH. Executive Director Kerri Scanlon could not say when visiting hours would be reinstated, and could not offer details about what procedures would be in place when they are.
Elective surgeries have not yet resumed at the hospital, but they will start again in a few weeks. There are a number of patients lined up who will have elective surgeries performed when they do, Scanlon said.
“We are doing surgeries now at Glen Cove Hospital that are deemed as urgent cases,” she said. “All of the cases go through a committee for review. They decide on the timeliness, and then the cases are sent to certain hospitals.”
She said she is not worried about the backload of elective surgeries because hours can be expanded, and more operating rooms can be opened. Patients are and will continue to be tested for Covid-19 before entering the hospital. They are swabbed while in their cars and instructed to return home for quarantine. They return for pre-surgical testing if they test negative for the coronavirus.
When patients enter the emergency room, they are assigned to separate rooms with glass walls. No patients wait in halls with only sheets hung between them, as has been the case in some other hospitals, Scanlon said. If patients cannot be treated at GCH, they can be transferred to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, another Northwell facility.
“People should come back to our emergency room,” Scanlon said. “We have had patients who now have complications because they waited. The mortality rate has gone up 400 percent nationally.”
GCH is also considering having certain employees, particularly administrators, work remotely from home. “The Covid crisis has shown some people that they can work at home effectively,” he said. “It may be something that they will want to do.”
There are still several Covid-19 patients at GCH, Scanlon said. Many are being rehabilitated. The hospital is ready, she said, if there is a second surge of the coronavirus.
People are tired of being home and starting to loosen up, perhaps not as careful as they once were, Sherman said. “We have to see what effect that has on the pandemic,” he said. “In some ways, you can’t let a good crisis go to waste. There have been lessons learned that could help us care better for people.”