The following article is a Press Release from the Bothwell Regional Health Center.

Bothwell Regional Health Center is committed to keeping patients, coworkers and providers safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since early March, the hospital has been making changes and decisions to provide a safe environment for patients, visitors and staff and to plan for a potential influx of patients.

As of April 9, the Pettis County Health Center (PCHC) has confirmed three positive cases of COVID-19 in the county, none of which has required hospitalization, and the county and state remain under a stay-at-home order until April 24.

Bothwell CEO Lori Wightman said that the hospital has been in constant communication with the PCHC and has been prepping its facilities and staff in the event the pandemic peaks in the county, which is expected in the next several weeks.

“On March 16, we activated our Command Center,” Wightman said. “The Command Center is a component of our existing Hospital Incident Command System policy, and it allows us to implement emergency management planning, response and recovery for planned and unplanned events. Our group includes hospital leadership and physicians, as well as our area health care partners.”

Wightman said the group’s first job was to establish five goals that are the focus of daily meetings that are held six times a week. The goals include ensuring that the only ill people in our buildings are patients; keeping those who are not ill, well; testing those who need to be tested and meeting patients’ clinical needs; coordinating efforts with our partners and activating science-based responses; providing staffing resources necessary to provide a safe environment of care; and staying financially viable for the future.

“These goals drive each and every decision that we’ve made so far and continue to make,” Wightman said. “We looked at what we needed to do to first protect our patients and staff and then what we had to do to prepare for new patients suffering from the virus and its complications.”

Steps to protect patients and staff included restricting visitors to the hospital, closing the cafeteria to the public, suspending community classes and support groups, and screening people visiting Bothwell clinics for regular appointments and procedures.

Other temporary changes are new opportunities and services for patients that are both related and not related to COVID-19.

“Last week, we implemented an online assessment on our website that allows people with COVID-related questions to complete a questionnaire,” Wightman said. “The assessment answers are being reviewed by medical providers and people will receive an email with next steps to take within 24 hours.”

Bothwell has also developed a local COVID-19 hotline to answer concerns and questions. The hotline is monitored by medical providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To speak with a medical provider, people should call (660) 826-8833 and ask to be transferred to the COVID-19 hotline.

The two most recent changes include offering clinic patients the option of virtual visits, which allow them to meet with their providers through a video call using a variety of platforms and prioritizing visitors to the Emergency Department.

“All of our clinics remain open, and virtual visits will help patients with concerns about coming into a clinic but still ensure that they get the medical services needed,” Wightman said. “For patients who require an in-person appointment, we have increased our cleaning procedures and additional precautions are being taken to isolate patients who display COVID-19 symptoms or who have exposure concerns.”

Next week, visitors to Bothwell’s Emergency Department will be virtually assessed before entering and prioritized for care according to their emergency.

“People with obvious emergency medical needs will be treated in the ED as they always have been,” Wightman said. “This prioritization strategy will allow us to help patients based on their situation and at the same time protect people by limiting interaction in the waiting room. It will also allow our staff to conserve their personal protective equipment for the sickest patients.”

Wightman said fewer people visiting clinics and the Emergency Department and the decision to postpone elective surgeries has caused a ripple effect on hospital finances, which was anticipated. Surgeries are down 75 percent, and outpatient clinic visits are down 50 percent. As a city-owned hospital, the Sedalia City Council recently approved Bothwell to seek a $5 million line of credit from The Central Bank of Sedalia in the event it’s needed.

We knew that some of the decisions we’ve made and people changing their habits would affect our revenues and expenses,” she said. “Bothwell will continue to stay financially viable by being proactive, whether it’s seeking financing, looking at our staffing resources, or tightening our belts in other places. We have no plans to close our doors, so the community shouldn’t worry. This is what we do. We’re ready for this crisis because we’ve planned for it, and we’ll continue to be here to serve our community.”

 

For more information on this Press Release, visit Bothwell Regional Health Center's Website.