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SVMHS President/CEO Addresses Current COVID-19 Concerns

  • Category: COVID-19
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SVMHS President/CEO Addresses Current COVID-19 Concerns

For some time, California was flattening the curve. Now that the state has reopened its economy more broadly, a new reality has set in - a surge in positive COVID-19 cases for many counties and cities. According to local health officials, the majority of the people infected in Monterey County reside in Salinas and in South Monterey County. Pete Delgado, President/CEO of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) says this new reality is troubling.

“The number of positive COVID-19 patients we’re seeing in the hospital is not decreasing. In fact, it’s increasing. So, the numbers bother me,” explains Pete Delgado. “It really scares me that people are not following proper guidelines for masking and social distancing. They are not taking it as seriously as they should.”

To listen to an interview on this topic with Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System President/CEO, Pete Delgado, click here.

Targeted Outreach to Vulnerable Populations

Individuals who have underlying health conditions, the elderly, and people of color are all disproportionately affected. Every year, thousands of people come to the Salinas Valley to harvest crops. Unfortunately, this is a vulnerable population that is at high risk for exposure to transmission of COVID-19 primarily because of their working and living conditions.

One way that SVMHS is addressing this situation is with a targeted outreach program, educating agricultural workers on how they can stay safe at work and home.

“Our nurses have really stepped up. We’ve already educated over 10,000 ag workers. They’ve actually conducted educational sessions in the fields. It’s amazing the difference they are making with these workers," shares Delgado. “We’re also working with the county health department to focus on nursing homes, another high-risk segment of our population. We are helping them facilitate testing and treatment as needed. That includes staff workers as well as the patients.”

Ingenuity in Processes Ensures Safety Remains Top Priority

The main priority of SVMHS is the safety of its staff, patients and visitors. While they’re still riding the first COVID-19 wave, the healthcare system is already looking ahead to a potential second wave projected to likely take place during flu season. In April, visitor restrictions were tightened at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and all its clinics. Only one adult visitor is allowed to visit a hospitalized person, although exceptions are made in certain cases such as end of life.

“I know that restricting visitors is tough on patients and their loved ones. Our Patient Experience team is focused on making that situation as comfortable as possible,” assures Delgado. “For example, we purchased 50 iPads to allow patients to connect with their loved ones and friends. This has been something that many of our patients have found very valuable. We’ve had patients in their 90s using this technology pretty easily. Keeping your family connections going is really important for the healing process here.”

That kind of ingenuity is a consistent thread among all hospital staff. Leaders are working diligently to reboot, reevaluate, and reimagine all patient care processes with a focus of benefiting patients and the community as a whole.

“It’s very clear to me that we have some amazing physicians and hospital leaders. Time after time, I’ve witnessed motivated doctors and hospital leaders coming together to redesign old clinical processes on the fly, keeping safety front and center”, says Delgado. “Everyone seems to be upping their game. We’re trying to adapt our norms towards a new norm. Our leaders have come through time after time. I’m so proud of our healthcare heroes. They are very much engaged, prepared, and on top of their game.”

Don’t Panic, Be Prepared

Delgado’s model since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been, “let’s not panic, let’s be prepared.” That continues to be his guidance to this day, especially as cases continue to rise.

“I’ve always described COVID-19 as a mean, sneaky, nasty virus that sometimes can be deadly. Our frontline caregivers can personally attest to the seriousness and the serious impact it has had on patients and family members, but it can be outsmarted just by being diligent”, says Delgado. “Social distancing, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands often, and staying at home often. It's simple advice but it is absolutely critical. COVID-19 can be outsmarted.”

Información sobre COVID-19 a los trabajadores agrícolas

SVMHS Outreach to Ag Workers