CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – MUSC experts plan to hold a briefing detailing their efforts to model, prepare for, and combat the spread of COVID-19. They will also discuss “next steps related to testing and tracing capability that lead to a more normal lifestyle in the weeks ahead.” The virtual information session is expected to take place on Wednesday. MUSC will release more details as plans solidify.
MUSC also reopened the imaging center at the West Ashley Medical Pavilion. The center provides patients with MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and X-rays. MUSC Health’s system administrator for imaging, Ron McKee, said that although most elective surgeries have been postponed, some surgeries cannot wait:
“If your mother had cancer or your family member had a bad hip and couldn’t walk, would you say ‘we need to wait for months until this blows over’? That can cost lives.”
Extreme protocols have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the imaging facility, including marking areas to encourage social distancing, masking patients, and frequent sterilizations of the rooms.
As of Monday, 41 members of the healthcare workforce have tested positive for COVID-19. This means that no additional healthcare workers have tested positive since last Monday.
MUSC said “it is clear in may cases that our care team members who tested positive…acquired from community and travel transmission. Many of the team members “have fared well and recovered quickly.”
MUSC described the COVID-19 return to work policy as “very conservative.” Members are not allowed to come to work if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, “or if they have not completed the testing process when known to have a high-risk exposure in or outside of work.”
Patients who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive staff member are notified according to internal notification and tracing protocols.
MUSC has seen around 5,000 patients at the West Ashley specimen collection site and completed 6,341 COVID-19 tests.
In addition to the 41 healthcare workers, there are currently 7 inpatient cases and 373 outpatient cases of COVID-19 identified by MUSC.
A total of 380 patients have tested positive.
MUSC’s supply status is currently still “green,” meaning they are not out of any necessary items at the moment.
In anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients, they are centralizing supply distribution and reducing the overall use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where possible. Healthcare providers have been advised to:
- Work expeditiously to transfer non-COVID-19 patients out of airborne infection isolation rooms
- Centralize the supply of all PPE items in a secured area.
- Clearly identify essential personnel who will be caring for any rule out or confirmed COVID-19 patient and limit entry into the patient room to those essential individuals.
- Use face-fitting N95 respirators while in the same room as a rule-out COVID-19 or lab-confirmed COVID-19 patient for most patient care activities (There are some exceptions that are considered safe for care team members.)
- Limit the number of individuals in the room when performing high-risk aerosol generating
- Use face-fitting N95 respirators while in the same room as a rule-out COVID-19 or lab-confirmed COVID-19 patient.
- Not wear face-fitting N95 respirators while in hospital common areas that are not related to patient care activity.
- Use surgical/isolation face masks when experiencing minor respiratory symptoms attributable to non-infectious causes (ex- mild nasal congestion consistent with personal allergic history).
- Care team members may now wear surgical/isolation face masks while in common areas of the hospital.
MUSC and the SC State Guard converted an on campus fitness center into a 250-bed field hospital to be used for recovering COVID-19 patients.
MUSC can also use space in the University Hospital Extension and Ashley River Tower for an additional 150 beds. These spaces will be used before the field hospital.
In house testing capacity is “fully mobilized.” Specimens are no longer being sent to DHEC or private labs. MUSC expects a significant reduction in wait times for test results.
DONATIONS REQUESTED: (MUSC Warehouse 4295 Arco Lane Charleston, SC 29418)
- N95 masks
- Surgical masks
- Protective eyewear
- Face guards and face shields
- Sterile gloves
- Hand sanitizer
- Industrial cleaning wipes
- Thermometers (all kinds)
- 200 proof USP-grade alcohol
WORKFORCE ADJUSTMENTS (statewide as of 4/6/20):
As elective surgeries have been put on hold, MUSC has seen significant financial damage. To mitigate the impacts, MUSC announced that they will be re-aligning the workforce “to sustain essential services with compensation reduction and temporary layoffs.”
Every member of the MUSC health team will be impacted: leaders will see a 20% pay-cut and salaried employees will see a 15% pay-cut.
Hourly employees who are not direct patient caregivers will see significantly reduced hours.
MUSC is planning on temporarily laying off around 900 health care team members across the state.
It is important to note that “frontline health care team members who have already seen fewer work hours due to COVID-19 response will not see any additional pay cuts.”