NMC Team Meeting the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Fiscal Year 2021 (FY’21) has been the story of two surges of COVID-19 here in Vermont. After a quiet summer in 2020, October of 2020 marked the start of a surge that would last through June of 2021, taking great toll on patients and healthcare providers. After a brief dip in June and July of 2021, another surge hit and continues with higher case counts than prior surges. We cannot thank our staff, our medical staff, our volunteers, and our community partners for how everyone has come together to meet the challenges. The effort has been incredible. The NMC Board and all the leaders at NMC are so incredibly grateful for all our team has done to meet community need.
We have been fortunate that nearly 90% of Vermonters have been vaccinated, as vaccines have proven to less the spread of COVID-19 and significantly reduce the hospitalizations and deaths from the virus.
Still, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every element of healthcare. It has added infectious patients to already near-capacity inpatient units. It has significantly increased patients seeking care from Primary Care, Pediatrics, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Department, pushing those services to capacity. It has created tremendous demand for timely testing and vaccination, prompting NMC to reopen offsite testing and vaccination services. At the same time, our staffing has been disrupted with increased call-outs due to exposures in the community or in their children at school. These pressures have necessitated the redeployment of staff from their normal roles to be hands on in other areas. For brief periods, NMC has had to postpone elective surgeries in light of the inpatient census and the need for the surgical nurses to staff other areas to help care for our sickest of patients.
As 2022 opens, Vermont continues on a concerning COVID trend. We are fortunate that vaccination has significantly reduced hospitalizations and deaths. Still, even the vaccinated can contract and transmit COVID, so we stress the need for masks in public areas, proper hand washing, and good social distancing.
The proven strategies to reduce transmission remain critical to containing spread and avoiding overwhelming the healthcare system. Social distancing, masking when social distancing cannot be maintained, proper hand hygiene, not going out when symptomatic, and getting vaccinated have served Vermonters well. These steps must continue. Boosters are now available and NMC continues to strongly encourage everyone who can be vaccinated or boosted to do so as soon as possible. It truly makes a difference in the severity of illness and the rate of transmission.
We have heard from so many in our community how thankful they are for the exhaustive work of the NMC team throughout the pandemic. Doing your part in preventing additional cases, through the steps outlined above, is one of the most effective and appreciated ways you can show your support for all their amazing work.
NMC Launches Hand Hygiene Campaign
On April 1, NMC launched a re-vamped Hand Hygiene Observation team to obtain at least 30 observations in each department. The Observation Team launched with observations of hand hygiene in Surgical Services, Emergency Department, Progressive Care, and FBC. NMC set the organizational goal of 90% compliance with an expectation for improvement from all departments.
All care staff are observed on a monthly basis and the department with the highest hand hygiene compliance is recognized for their achievement. Here are the departments we have celebrated for the compliance and improvement in the last six months.
In January 2021, NMC launched a new employee recognition program. The 5-Star Employee Recognition is a new program to recognize employees that exemplify the commitment to the level of care and service that NMC strives to achieve. These employees emulate our mission of exceptional healthcare for our community and embody the Service Excellence Standards in their work.
Employees are nominated by co-workers who submit their nominations through an online form. The 5-Star Employee committee selects monthly winners using the Service Excellence standards as guidelines and will verify the selection with the employee’s manager for eligibility.