This month, scientists predict with more certainly that the global pandemic, which has battered our nation and world, is subsiding. As the old expression goes, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. I say that with cautious optimism though; we will keep our eyes on the road until COVID is squarely in the rearview mirror.
As the number of COVID patients declines to a few or none on most days at Hutch Regional, we pause to say thanks and commend our healthcare community for its collaborative efforts to unite as a team of true professionals. We are blessed with a diverse group of truly heroic medical providers who came together as never before.
We sought common solutions on how best to treat COVID patients while providing compassionate care for others who were hospitalized with non-COVID-related medical issues.
As we move forward together, I’m pleased to report that services that were temporarily halted (“elective” but still important) have resumed at Hutchinson Regional. Most importantly, patients should know it is safe to enter the Hutchinson Regional campus for procedures, tests, examinations or rehab. We urge anyone who may have delayed seeking treatment to do so now.
More good news is that several capital improvement projects put on hold this past year will now move forward. Two projects will soon be underway, including a major update to the hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit, along with a significant refresh of the Labor and Delivery Unit.
The Behavioral Health Unit will be closed for approximately 90 days. Area hospitals and healthcare organizations have agreed to partner with us in serving the needs of patients who rely on these vital treatments. Our own Horizons Mental Health Center, an entity of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, has been tremendously helpful in planning to fill any voids.
The Labor and Delivery Unit will be updated with new wallpaper, lighting, wall treatments, art work and the like to create a unit more welcoming for expectant mothers, fathers, newborns and families.
We believe the new Labor and Delivery Unit will solidify our efforts to produce powerful and long-lasting memories for all who entrust their perinatal care to Hutchinson Regional.
Funds for the Behavioral Health Unit are part of our Capital Improvement Strategic Plan and the Labor and Delivery work is made possible thanks to a contribution from the Hutchinson Regional Medical Foundation.
In other developments, the visitation policy at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center allowing a single visitor per patient has been revised to reflect the decline in the census of COVID-19 patients. Going forward, patients can have two visitors per day in most locations within the hospital. Visitors are not allowed for COVID-19 positive patients. Also, we are allowing two support individuals for outpatient services. No one under the age of 18 will be allowed to visit, but exceptions may be made for end of life or other difficult family situations.
A mask order on all facilities within the Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System campus will remain in effect until further notice. We are making enormous progress in our 12-month battle to contain COVID-19 at Hutchinson Regional and feel strongly it is not worth the risk to lose any or all of the ground we have gained in the past year.
We face the coming year with renewed hope that the worst is behind us. And no column or HRHS pronouncement should conclude without again thanking the numerous healthcare professionals from our community who have given their all to defeat this once-in-a-century pandemic.
Former coach, broadcaster and motivational speaker Lou Holtz has espoused plenty of wisdom on how to deal with crisis, some of which applies to our current situation at Hutchinson Regional. As Lou says, “Adversity is another way to measure greatness of individuals. I never had a crisis that didn’t make me stronger.”
This crisis has made Hutchinson Regional and the medical community of Hutchinson stronger and better prepared for the next crisis to come our way. Speaking for our leadership team, I could not be prouder of this consummate group of professionals.
By Ken Johnson, President & CEO