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Pandemic made hospital better

In recent weeks, I have been reflecting on the unprecedented challenges that our community and our team at Conemaugh Nason Medical Center in Roaring Spring have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More specifically, I’ve been intentionally looking for every possible silver lining in a time when — let’s face it — we all need some positive news.

I believe that adversity is one of the greatest paths to improvement, and improving is what we have done despite the difficult circumstances. And the truth is: There are silver linings everywhere.

First, I cannot say enough how proud I am of the way our team has weathered the storm.

When we saw that COVID-19 was beginning to spread overseas earlier this year, we began taking steps to prepare our facility before the virus was even detected in the U.S.

We implemented our robust emergency operations plan and executed it down to the final detail to keep our patients, providers, employees and community members safe. Every member of our team was ready to step up to the challenge of caring for our patients, and I saw our providers, employees and staff come together like never before. I’m so grateful for and inspired by their courage and selfless dedication.

Not only did the pandemic make our team stronger, but it also made our hospital safer.

While we have always had strict infection prevention protocols, we introduced new processes and procedures — such as having everyone in our facility wear a mask, screening all who enter for COVID-19 symptoms and even putting up physical barriers in some cases — to further reduce the spread of germs.

We took steps to isolate patients suspected of having the virus to a specific area of the hospital and also enhanced our cleaning and disinfection practices to ensure they exceeded health care industry standards.

These are just a few examples of how we have fundamentally changed the way we work so we can better care for you and your family and ensure a safe environment.

COVID-19 has turned life as we know it upside down, but I believe it has made us better in so many ways — especially when it comes to quality and patient safety.

It has challenged us to be innovative, to think outside the box and to quickly adapt to change — all things necessary to successfully navigate our “new normal.”

The reality is that until there is a vaccine, we can expect that COVID-19 is here to stay. It’s something that we must learn to live with and do our best to protect against.

Because it isn’t going away, I hope you have every confidence that this hospital is continuing to take every possible precaution to help protect you when you come for care.

We want you to feel comfortable coming to see us and not ignore any health concerns you may have in hopes the pandemic will end soon.

Even as life returns to a “new normal,” you should know that we aren’t letting our guard down. We have learned so much through our response to this pandemic, and we will continue looking for new ways to improve.

Because of this experience, our team is stronger; our hospital is safer; and we are even more deeply committed to caring for our community. These are all silver linings in my book.

Tim Harclerode is Conemaugh Nason Medical Center CEO.

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