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Staff COVID-19 vaccinations begin

Read about the launch of the CCHC vaccination program and what it takes to keep the vaccine ready.

Vaccinations start

Published on December 22, 2020

Playing an invisible game of chess

An invisible game of chess

Making strategic moves to keep our community safe

Many months now into this pandemic and COVID-19 continues to persist in our community. As predicted, we saw a steady increase of positive cases on Cape Cod, in the Commonwealth and within our healthcare system following the Thanksgiving holiday; and today, we stand at what appears to be a plateau. While duration of this plateau is unknown, we know there are more holidays on the horizon and the risk of COVID-19 in our community remains a reality. At Cape Cod Healthcare, this means we must continue to strengthen our commitment to support and help protect our community, our patients and our own healthcare heroes by increasing access to testing, ensuring the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), curtailing in person elective, non-urgent services where necessary and encouraging all those around us to wear mask and to stay home if you are sick.

We recently announced, in partnership with Cape Cod legislative delegation, Barnstable County and other local officials, the establishment of two community testing sites at the Melody Tent in Hyannis and the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. While we actively work to expand testing capabilities and establish surge plans to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients, like many health systems, we are currently faced with a shortage of staff. We will continue to compete for staffing, leveraging travelers where appropriate; and we will do our absolute best to keep our staff as fresh as possible.

We continue to focus on caring for our patients and procuring the necessary PPE to protect our staff. We continue to monitor our community and maintain ambulatory services utilizing telehealth to care for patients. We will monitor our operative schedules with attention to ICU and medical surgical bed capacity and will scale back on an as needed basis. Currently, there are no plans to establish a field hospital on Cape Cod.

We must continue to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe and healthy. Where appropriate, Cape Cod Healthcare staff will continue to work from home. Office spaces will be maintained 60% open and clear. We know exposures can and have happened within units and in the workplace and create a dangerous ripple effect. It is the nature of community spread and we have an obligation and commitment to keep our ourselves, our colleagues and our patients safe. While some of us (myself included) would normally try push through a cold and come work this time of year. That approach is no longer an option. If you are not feeling well, we need you to self-screen and please stay home.

Our Transition to Epic

Several weeks into our transition to the Epic electronic medical record and we continue to see a steady decline in questions and issues, with call volumes to the Help Desk returning to normal levels. We continue to work with the revenue cycle team as well as ambulatory teams to work through the remaining issues. Overall, we could not be more grateful or proud of the work of this team. Going live on Epic during a pandemic was a bold decision that required the commitment and dedication of our entire healthcare system. It was decision that was fueled by our commitment to improving patient care, most especially in the face of a second wave of COVID-19.

You have done a truly amazing job.

Every team, every person who has been involved in this process has helped make this one of the most successful Epic go-lives at any healthcare system. Thank you.

Improving Access Across CCHC

We continue to hear criticism from our community regarding ambulatory access constraints and overall customer service response times. These criticisms are earned and justified as we work through significant staffing issues and workflow challenges as we adopt our new electronic medical record. We are committed to addressing these very real issues in real time. Additionally, over the next six months we will be welcoming a new group of physicians, including several new PCPs, who will help complement our exceptional staff and be available to accept new patients. We will continue to seek opportunities to expand access to patient care services across Cape Cod. Most recently, we announced the reopening of the McCarthy Care Center and upcoming development project in Orleans which will offer primary, urgent care and specialty services. We will continue to pursue strategic investments and partnerships, including a revised plan for the patient care tower at Cape Cod Hospital and ongoing investments in our technical infrastructure. We will seek opportunities to grow and gain market share both organically and through new service offerings, wherever possible.

A Step Forward

Last week, Cape Cod Healthcare was one of the first healthcare systems in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The shipment followed months of planning for what will hopefully be a step forward in our journey to move beyond this pandemic. Putting the necessary measures in place to receive the vaccine, however, was only the first step. Ultimately, the confidence and support of our own staff will be the determining factor in the successful adoption of this vaccine. Walking into South 2, our COVID-19 floor at Cape Cod Hospital the day the vaccine arrived, it was clear; CCHC is ready to begin the healing process.

There are many things we do not know about how the COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out across our state and within our community. What we do know is the importance of our role in the process. By getting vaccinated and helping to promote its safety, we will slowly but surely expand the reach of this vaccine to our families and to our neighbors. This is the beginning of what will be a collective effort to help our community heal.

In Closing

While we may not get to enjoy our traditional Cape Cod Healthcare holiday celebrations this year, we will make sure those resources are redistributed to those in need this holiday season. We will be making contributions to food pantries across Cape Cod so we can continue to support those most vulnerable in our community.

This year, more than ever, we must pay close attention to our community and lead with a big heart.

While we will close out this fiscal year with a financial loss, I must say we have won in the eyes of our community. Your incredible caregiving and work have helped our community in so many ways. We are our community’s safety net and you prove that each and every day by what you do for our patients and for each other. This pandemic has truly impacted every person in our community in nearly every way. We are playing chess with an invisible virus. We are an incredible group of people that will overcome this very real pandemic. In the meantime, there is still much more to do - and there is not another group of people that I would rather be alongside than you.

Thank you for all you have done and all you do. It is an honor to work with each and every one of you.

We recently announced, in partnership with Cape Cod legislative delegation, Barnstable County and other local officials, the establishment of two community testing sites at the Melody Tent in Hyannis and the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. While we actively work to expand testing capabilities and establish surge plans to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients, like many health systems, we are currently faced with a shortage of staff. We will continue to compete for staffing, leveraging travelers where appropriate; and we will do our absolute best to keep our staff as fresh as possible.

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