At Sharon Hospital, 2020 was mostly about COVID-19
SHARON — Sharon Hospital President Dr. Mark K. Hirko described the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospital during a community forum (online) held Monday, Dec. 14.
The hospital took a number of precautionary measures in the spring, as the pandemic spread rapidly, Hirko said.
These included shutting down elective procedures; limiting the number of people entering the facility; and restrictions on visitation.
The visitation restrictions were eased somewhat by increased use of technology for virtual visits.
Staff had to undergo training in proper use of personal protective equipment and how to care for COVID-19 patients.
Elective procedures were reinstated in July, Hirko said. An unfortunate effect of the temporary shutdown was that patients got sicker, he added.
The hospital has been working on contingency and surge planning, drawing on lessons learned during the spring.
Hirko said the community was very helpful, with meals and other donations, and expressions of support, such as letters and car parades.
The amount of support helped morale. “It really made us feel proud,” he said.
Hirko said after a lull over the summer, the hospital is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, which started in mid-October.
He said the hospital currently has COVID-19 patients “in the low double digits,” and within the Nuvance system, which has seven hospitals, four in Connecticut and three in New York, there are about 300 patients. The system has about 1,100 beds, Hirko said.
Moving ahead, Hirko said that employees were given time off during the summer lull in COVID-19 cases.
The hospital’s “clinical playbook” for treating COVID-19 patient draws on “what worked and what didn’t” during the initial spring surge.
As far as the COVID-19 vaccine goes, Hirko said the hospital is working with state and federal authorities on the priority groups for receiving the Pfizer vaccine, starting with high-risk health-care workers. He said he hopes to have the vaccine in hand by the end of the week.
Hirko also took time to thank the community for its response to a fundraising campaign, which has raised about $900,000 with a goal of $1 million by Dec. 31. If the hospital hits the $1 million target, it will receive a matching grant of $1 million for a total of $2 million.