Tidelands Health launches ‘Safe in Our Care’ as non-emergency appointments, procedures resume
Area residents who choose Tidelands Health for medical care will experience the health system’s “Safe in Our Care” commitment as non-emergency appointments and procedures resume Monday, May 4.
The region’s largest health care provider is implementing enhanced safety protocols at each of its more than 60 care locations to help protect and reassure patients, including those whose care may have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure don’t take a break during a pandemic,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs. “Accidents and injuries still happen. Cancer still spreads, and heart attacks still strike.
“We are all working toward a new normal. These extensive ‘Safe in Our Care’ protocols will help us deliver the health and wellness services our community needs even as we continue to respond to COVID-19.”
Like many health care organizations, Tidelands Health has seen a worrisome decline in patients seeking care for emergency conditions, including heart attack and stroke, since the emergence of COVID-19. Because delaying needed medical care can have deadly consequences, the health system is urging community members to obtain the care they need.
The Tidelands Health “Safe in Our Care” commitment includes:
When patients call to schedule an appointment, they will be asked about their health and any symptoms they may be experiencing. Team members will collect additional information over the phone to reduce the amount of paperwork required during the visit. And patients will be reminded to wear a face covering mask to their appointment. If a patient doesn’t have a face covering or mask, one will be provided. All patients, visitors and team members are required to wear a face covering or mask in all Tidelands Health care locations.
Safe Care Navigators
Upon arriving at a Tidelands Health care location, patients will be greeted by a Safe Care Navigator who will take their temperature, screen them for COVID-19 symptoms, provide sanitizer for hand hygiene and, if they don’t already have a face covering, provide them a mask. The Safe Care Navigator will also answer any questions patients may have about Tidelands Health safety protocols.
Safe Check-in and Check-out
For patients’ safety, plexiglass shields or glass doors are in place at all check-in and check-out areas. In addition, Tidelands Health has implemented contactless procedures to receive patients’ insurance and payment information. When information in writing is required, ink pens, clipboards and other materials will be thoroughly disinfected after each individual use. Designated social distancing zones are in place at check-in and check-out windows to allow for adequate space between patients.
Tidelands Health lobbies and common areas, including high-touch items such as door handles, elevator buttons, tables and chairs, are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day for patient safety. All reading material and brochures have been removed from lobbies, and seating capacity has been limited to align with social distancing guidelines. Patients may also choose to wait in their private vehicle after checking in if they prefer.
Good hand hygiene is essential for all team members, patients and visitors. When patients come to a Tidelands Health location, they will be provided hand sanitizer at the door upon entering the building, before entering the exam or procedure area and when exiting the exam or procedure area. Sanitizer will also be available for additional use as needed.
Safe Exam Rooms
Tidelands Health locations have always followed stringent cleaning protocols. For added safety, the health system has further enhanced those protocols for patients’ safety and peace of mind. Exam rooms and procedure areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each patient visit. In addition, patient visits are being scheduled at reduced capacity at all care locations to allow extra time for enhanced cleaning between each patient encounter.
Each exam or procedure room will be thoroughly cleaned before a patient enters. However, some patients may prefer added protection for clothes and other belongings. A single-use bag will be available to hold belongings during the visit if desired.
Tidelands Health physician offices and rehabilitation clinics now offer e-visits for patients. E-visits are available for new and established patients at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services locations and for established patients at the health system’s physician practices.
In addition to the Safe in Our Care protocols, Tidelands Health continues to take other steps designed to keep patients and team members safe. Visitor restrictions and universal masking requirements remain in place, and the health system is continuing conservation measures to preserve the supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers.
Robust COVID-19 testing is also ongoing at Tidelands Health hospitals and designated outpatient locations.
“Our health system has led the way in our region’s response to COVID-19, and we continue to lead as we begin to resume regular operations,” Dr. Harmon said. “Our patients and community can take comfort in knowing we are here, as we have been for 70 years, to help people live better lives through better health.”
Patients who had an appointment postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be contacted by a Tidelands Health team member to reschedule. Patients who need to schedule a new appointment can call their provider’s office or 1-866-TIDELANDS for assistance. In an emergency, patients should call 911.