Parrish Healthcare Partners Recognized as COVID-19 ‘Heroes’, Along with the Community They Serve

By  //  May 7, 2020

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unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic shining spotlight on visible role of hospitals

National Nurses’ Week and National Hospital Week are May 6-12 and May 10-16 respectively. This year these national recognitions of the healing work performed through the hands and hearts of healthcare heroes everywhere are never more profound than in times of crisis. (Parrish Healthcare image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – National Nurses’ Week and National Hospital Week are May 6-12 and May 10-16 respectively. This year these national recognitions of the healing work performed through the hands and hearts of healthcare heroes everywhere are never more profound than in times of crisis.

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is shining an even brighter spotlight on the already visible role of hospitals and the healthcare providers who work within them.

It’s saying something as well about our communities locally, say Parrish Healthcare care partners and officials.

For those who have endured COVID-19’s worst, and recovered, the spotlight illuminates great gratitude, such as that expressed by Jason Whitworth, who battled COVID-19 in Parrish Healthcare’s Parrish Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit.

Jason posted on social media his reflections of fighting COVID-19, and of the PMC nurses who fought for him, and with him:

“I’ve had a fever, chest pains, and cough for over 12 days. I self-isolated the minute I had a fever at home. After my fever started getting worse and not dropping, my wife contacted the hospital and we were told to head in. I’ve been in the ICU since Sunday and my COVID-19 (TEST) came back yesterday positive. I had no pre-existing respiratory issues, but have pneumonia in both lungs…the doctors are diligent in giving me the latest care options and I’m grateful. I’ve never had to stay in the hospital so this is new for me. I never knew how instrumental nurses are. People talk about heroes; well I can tell you firsthand the sacrifice these nurses are giving as they provide care to an infectious person. I am grateful for their incredible service, without their compassion who knows what my condition would be. Please include them in your prayers as they have a long road ahead of them.”

Throughout the current public health pandemic, individuals, businesses, civic and religious groups, and whole communities have shared their gratitude and support for the world’s healthcare heroes, on the front lines – and often out in front – of the fight.

For example, in the early stages of the pandemic, Parrish Healthcare was the area’s first healthcare system to make available to the public an online COVID-19 risk assessment.

Parrish subsequently heard from the community that it gave people a sense of control and the benefit of knowledge about this new virus that was occurring in their lives, whether or not they had COVID-19.

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Karen D. Jordan, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of RLJ Enterprises, Inc., who wrote:

“We had our staff take the Parrish COVID-19 assessment today, and we think just having this ‘tool’ available made each person feel a bit better. We, also, asked them to email the link to their home address so they could pass the information along to others to take the assessment. Thank you so very much for the opportunity to do this from a trusted platform!

“It reminds us of all the wonderful, exemplary and dedicated doctors, nurses and employees we have, at Parrish; right here, in our small community, we’re blessed with such wonderful people!

“So many who work there and are, literally, putting their lives on the line, each and every day; yet, they get up every morning and rise to the occasion; especially, during this difficult time with everything going on with COVID-19.”

The assessment tool enabled people to understand what their COVID-19 risk or symptom level. Parrish health navigators contacted assessment respondents if their answers indicated that they may be fighting COVID-19. For some, it may have meant everything.

After the risk assessment showed a Brevard woman at a high possibility of having COVID-19, a Parrish care navigator reached out to her through the contact information provided through the assessment.

The woman took the assessment after another person with whom she’d been working died from COVID-19.

“The woman was short of breath, and her other symptoms were such that the care navigator recommend she take immediate action,” said Parrish Healthcare spokesperson Natalie Sellers.

“She had self-isolated because she’s a caring person and didn’t want to be part of a problem of overloaded emergency rooms.

“Based on the assessment’s results, our care navigation team advised her to go straight to the emergency room at a hospital near her home. The care team alerted that hospital’s ER so that they could be ready for her. She was ultimately admitted to the hospital.”

Parrish care partners have felt the response from the community as well. As the pandemic ramped up, PMC established an Alternate Care Site, primarily for use to screen individuals entering Parrish Medical Center, and which could be converted for emergency care use. The response proved more than expected.

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“I feel the community has been very supportive and appreciative of the precautions that PMC is taking to protect us all,” said Donna Violette, RN. “Many local businesses have been showing

support by bringing mask supplies, food, and words of encouragement. I have had the opportunity to get to know and meet many of our community members, as many come here frequently for therapy. It was nice to see them almost daily and ask how they were doing.”

As the pandemic progressed and dominated the news and individual conversations, it could sometimes seem as if COVID-19 was the only health issue with which people were concerned. However, Parrish’s and other hospitals’ regular, daily, responsibilities didn’t disappear with the appearance of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, one effect of COVID-19 on regular hospital operations is to restrict visitation for everyone’s protection. Parrish responded with virtual visits making use of iPads to enable visitors to see and speak with their loved ones. And it had impact.

“I have been receiving dialysis treatment at Parrish and at a time like this, during the coronavirus pandemic, there’s nothing more important than staying in touch with your family,” said Peter Kuederli.

“I was able to connect with my wife face-to-face via an iPad and let her know I’m okay. I have had such good service at Parrish Medical Center and I am so thankful for all the staff for caring for me through this time.”

What the pandemic reminds us is that compassion, courage, selflessness and kindness lift us up and have a kind of impact to peoples’ lives that should not be forgotten or taken for granted, says George Mikitarian, Parrish Healthcare president and CEO.

“COVID-19 has created a new range of concerns, fears, anxieties, and other emotions, because it’s new and no one has seen anything like this in their lifetimes,” said Mikitarian.

“In healthcare, the pressure is never ‘off,’ but it’s also taken a new surge with the community’s and the country’s need to respond to COVID-19. You really can’t know what you’re made of until you know how you respond under pressure. As I – and the community – assess the performance of Parrish staff in the face of COVID-19, I don’t think I could be prouder.

“And as all of us at Parrish watch how our communities have responded, we couldn’t be prouder of them, either. There are a lot of heroes for which we can be grateful,” said Mikitarian.

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