By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read April 2020 —Novant Health is an integrated nonprofit organization with 15 medical centers and more than 1,600 physicians in almost 700 locations. President of Novant Health Greater Charlotte Market and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Saad Ehtisham told Invest: about the group’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is minimizing risk to patients and healthcare staff.

What accommodations is Novant Health making to handle the influx of patients due to the COVID-19 outbreak? 

Novant Health excels at being change-ready and resilient in the ever-changing world of healthcare. From the onset of COVID-19, we began assessing our readiness. Our emergency management and clinical teams have been hard at work, building on our existing plans to make sure we’re ready to manage any and all scenarios that could come with an influx of COVID-19 cases in our communities. 

At Novant Health, we made the decision to cancel elective and non-time-sensitive procedures to minimize risk to patients and our team members, conserve PPE (personal protective equipment) and be mindful of future capacity needs. We’ve also made investments to greatly increase our bed capacity across the system. As part of our commitment to patient safety, we diversify and routinely monitor our supply chain in order to be prepared and meet the needs of our patients and team members. In anticipation of a surge, our supply chain and emerging infectious diseases teams doubled down.

Outside of managing our acute care capacity, we’ve prepared for an influx of patients who need screening, testing and treatment in our ambulatory clinics, as well. Novant Health proactively stood up screening centers, respiratory assessment centers and mobile health units across our markets. This ensures we are able to test and treat, as clinically necessary, people outside of our hospitals and ensure beds are available for those who need higher levels of care.

We’re confident that we are prepared and well-equipped to safely care for our community.

How can the community best assist local healthcare providers in this time of need?

The best thing the community can do for us right now is stay home, if and when they can, and practice physical and social distancing. This will help us further flatten the curve to ensure we won’t experience a surge of patients all at once or a resurgence if we ease up on social distancing. 

If someone thinks they may have symptoms of the coronavirus or have been exposed, it’s best to first take our online assessment, call their healthcare provider, or call our 24/7 helpline 877-9NOVANT for advice on care and how to be treated. This will help us ensure only those who meet guidelines for further evaluation and testing are routed to the most appropriate venue of care, which in turn reduces risk of exposure to our team members, the community and helps us conserve valuable resources.

We each have a responsibility to do what we can to care for ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Continue to wash your hands, stay informed, stay calm, and stay home. 

What would your message be to the local community that is sheltering in place and waiting for a return to normalcy?

First and foremost: Thank you. From the #ThankYouNH posts to the purple ribbons tied around your mailboxes – we see you and we thank you. We understand this is a time of stress and uncertainty for many in our communities. This new normal is not easy, with social and economic impacts being felt deeply by many. Yet, staying-at-home, if and when you can, and practicing physical distancing is quite literally saving lives. It’s helping to ensure that those who do get sick, and not just with the coronavirus, will be able to get the care they need. So when you’re getting a little stir crazy, just try to remember why it is we’re doing what we’re doing, together, and I encourage all of us to hang in there. 

If at the end of this we look back and see that the number of cases and deaths are lower than the models predicted, that’s a good thing. It means the policies put in place and the actions taken by our communities worked to beat the coronavirus. This was not for nothing.

Where can the community go to find more resources to support your efforts or learn more about what you are doing?

At Novant Health, we are humbled by the outpouring of support from our community in our fight against the coronavirus outbreak. So many people – from all over – are reaching out to see how they can contribute and, truly, no contribution is too small. To support our efforts, visit novanthealth.org/giving. 

For up-to-date information and resources, visit novanthealth.org/coronavirus. I also encourage everyone to visit healthyheadlines.org where you’ll find truly remarkable stories about our team members who are fighting this virus on the frontlines. You can also join the conversation by following @NovantHealth on your social channels.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.novanthealth.org/