Ghazala Sharieff, MD, MBA, Scripps chief medical officer, clinical excellence and experience, explains how Scripps is thoughtfully and cautiously phasing in a return of services to make sure that patients can access the care they need when they need it.
Dr. Sharieff also addresses the enhanced infection prevention and safety measures put in place at Scripps hospitals and clinics to further protect team members and patients.
Scripps is being very careful and methodical about what we’re calling our “phased return of services.” We want to make sure everything is safe for you to come in, that we have the cleaning supplies, that we have the masks available for our staff, everything safe so that when you come back, you feel confident in the care that you’re going to receive.
We’re opening things in a very gradual manner, starting with what we were calling “time critical cases.” Some of you have been waiting for a very long time for some cases that weren’t emergencies and now we’re opening up those cases. We’re going beyond that to include specialty care — for example, some of you have been waiting to get cataract surgeries. They may not be elective, but there are definitely things that we realize that you need to get done. We’re slowly and gradually and very carefully opening up those things that you need care for.
Scripps has started to re-open facilities. We had initially closed some sites because we wanted to make sure that we had the necessary staff for the hospital setting. We wanted to make sure we had enough of the necessary supplies. We are happy to announce we are re-opening some clinics. We’re happy to announce that for you. We realize that your need is there and that you want to go to a place that you’re familiar with. We are opening those up again very gradually and slowly and making sure we have the supplies that are necessary to keep you and our staff safe.
Scripps has a lot of safety measures that we’ve put in. One is rigorous cleaning, and I know you expect that of us.
Secondly, we are screening patients and visitors at the front door. We are following strict visitor restrictions. I know that this is difficult for some of you to follow and I understand that, but that is something that we’re doing to keep you safe.
We are separating out our patients. If you come to the nurse department and you have respiratory complaints, we’ll put you in a separate part of the emergency department. We’re asking all of our staff to wear masks. We’re asking you to wear masks as well as an extra layer of protection.
We are testing all of our admitted patients for COVID-19. All these measures are in place to keep all of you safe and to keep our staff protected as well.
There is so much patients and visitors can do to help during this pandemic. One is to really follow our visitor restrictions. We have done that in alliance with the county and other regional healthcare systems to keep you safe and make sure that we keep everybody protected. I know that it’s very difficult. I completely understand. We are making exceptions on a case by case basis. Sometimes we may ask that if you’re picking up somebody from the hospital or if you’re accompanying somebody to a clinic for you to wait in the car so that we can limit traffic in and out of our clinics as well. We just ask for your cooperation and your understanding.
We are asking everybody to wear a mask as well. Please bring your mask when you come. You’ll see our staff wearing a mask and we ask that you do the same thing.
The other thing I really ask of you, as we start opening up the county and see a lot more people wanting to get together, is to please do the social distancing. We’ve made so much progress. You’ve all been in quarantine. You’ve been following those guidelines. It’s exciting to get out there again, but keep this in mind: Six feet distancing. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. If you’re having severe symptoms, please call 911.
Everything is very safe here for you. If you have questions or you’re not sure whether to come in or not, you can contact your doctor’s office. We have nurse triage lines that can help guide you. Perhaps you could even do a telehealth visit, so you don’t even have to come in as well. But don’t delay care. That is my ask of you.
In closing, I want to thank you all for your trust in us as your chief medical officer. That’s something that I take deeply to heart. Please keep in mind that we are here for you always.