Augusta Health updates COVID-19 response: Three weeks in

Augusta HealthAugusta Health has re-engineered the entire health system to care for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two primary sources of patients for a community hospital, surgery and imaging, have been reduced significantly to preserve resources for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients.

Some services, such as cancer treatments and delivering babies continue. In March, more than 100 babies were born at Augusta Health.

In the last three weeks, a significant investment of time and resources have been expended to plan and implement new services and units as Augusta Health prepares to treat patients as we fight COVID-19.

These services and units, which all became operational after March 16, include:

  • The COVID Care Call Center: (540) 332-5122—a phone line, staffed by registered nurses, to answer questions and screen patients for COVID-19—without the patient needed to leave home. The Call Center is staffed sever days a week from 8 am until 4:30 pm. They’ve taken more than 750 calls, and through screening questions have referred about half to either the Assessment Center for respiratory illness or to a primary care illness for other medical concerns.
  • The COVID-19 Assessment Center at the Waynesboro Urgent Care—to assess, treat and educate about respiratory illness. This center sees about 40 to 45 patients per day, 500 patients since opening. More than 200 COVID-19 tests have been processed, with availability of testing improving. So far, there have been 5 confirmed positive test results.
  • The COVID Care Call Center and COVID-19 Assessment Center work together to keep those with respiratory systems separate from those with other medical concerns, alleviate concerns and direct patients to the resources they need.
  • The COVID Care Management Team—contacts every patient who is screened for COVID-19 while they are waiting for their results, to provide answers to questions and guidance on what to do. They also connect with those who test positive and are recovering at home.
  • Outpatient Behavioral Health Telehealth—so patients can receive care without leaving their homes and risking exposure. The Telehealth audio/visual session will be held using Doxy.Me, which is a secure and HIPAA compliant platform. Visits are available Monday through Thursday from 8 am until 5 pm and on Fridays from 9 am – 2 pm. To schedule an appointment, call (540) 213-2525.
  • A Spiritual Care Call Line—for patients, families, and staff to contact Chaplain Services and request services, operating Monday through Friday, 10 am – 4pm at (540) 294-4207.
  • Expanded Child Care Services—for essential employees with school age children so they can continue to work while school has been canceled.
  • ED Patient and Family Liaisons—to provide support to families and patients in the ED and connect patients and families to physicians and staff. They listen to concerns, ensure communication and help meet the needs of both the patient and the family waiting in the ED. They are available from 7 am until 11 pm, seven days a week.
  • Surge Plans—Including re-engineering the entire First Floor of the Patient Tower to be a Respiratory Care Unit, adding 11 negative pressure rooms in the Emergency Department, creating 32 additional isolation rooms in the hospital (total of 50) and turning the entire Waynesboro Urgent Care into a Isolation Unit, and preparing other units to be converted as needed. The Commonwealth of Virginia expects each hospital to be able to surge to at least 20% above its licensed bed census. Augusta Health’s plans exceed that mandate; Augusta Health can surge to at least 50% above its licensed bed status in the hospital.

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