Weekly Update: Masking, Red to Yellow Visitation, Connecting Loved Ones

by Amy Mansue, president and CEO, Inspira Health

Excerpted from February 14, 2022 message to the community, inspirahealthnetwork.org/covid19

We have 6.6 million New Jerseyans fully vaccinated, and 2.8 million boostered. We are really seeing continued decrease in hospitalizations. It goes up and down, so I’m not ready to call victory yet, and obviously we do worry five, seven, 10 days after Super Bowl that we indeed will see an influx again. Hopefully not, though….

Lots of changes coming in early March for schools, where those masks will be optional. We do know that the vaccine for the under five is on hold right now. Walk-ins are welcome to the clinics. Here are the hours that you can do that. You can usually do it same day. If you decide you want one, you can just pop up on the website and get yourself scheduled and come on in.

One of the things that reduces our hospitalizations is the continued use of masking, and we had extra KN95s, which are the ones I can’t use on the high acuity floor, but certainly have been recommended recently by the CDC for increased protection against omicron.

We worked with our community partners, and we were able to distribute 75,000 masks in Cumberland, Salem, and Gloucester county. Just a huge shoutout to everyone involved in that, and mostly to our community members who are always so willing to partner with us to make sure that we can keep everyone safe.

I’ve heard from many of you about how frustrating it is to have the red visitation. And again, remember, that’s an algorithm that’s calculated based upon the rate of transmission, how many people are in your hospital, how many beds are are filled in your ICU. So this week, all the hospitals in southern New Jersey are now yellow. The visitation rules are up on the screen, so you can clearly see them. Obviously we’re not green yet, so it’s not like it was, but it’s certainly a lot better than red. And we’ll continue to work with you on that, as you have loved ones in the facilities.

Part of the opportunity for us is to try and create new and creative ways to deal with things like the red restriction. And given when the surge happened, we had to set up volunteer pools to come in and have people take on different roles than they would, just because there were so many people in need of care.

I want to give a huge shoutout this week to Tracy Degner, who’s a practice manager at Inspira Medical Group. Tracy came in and served as a volunteer after her 40 hours a week, to actually provide iPad services to patients, to connect them with their families while they were in the hospital. And Tracy talked about just the tremendous gratitude she felt, in being able to do this, and how much more meaningful it was for her to be able to that conduit, to be able to serve between the patient and the family, and most importantly, just keeping us all connected.

Many of us have had to deal with these challenges of having loved ones in the hospital and dealing with all these restrictions. And obviously, it’s tremendously stressful, just having anybody in the facility. But Tracy providing that extra assistance, and our staff being willing to step up, I’m grateful to them, grateful because they did this in addition to their other full-time job, and grateful because we know how important it is to you in the community. Again, we will continue to keep you updated on all of the changes.

Until we meet again, be well and stay safe.

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