It’s been months since the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic caused everything to shut down. Moving forward to the second half of the year, numbers are still rising, people are still being affected, and one question still remains: When will things in our country go back to normal?
During these strange and unpredictable times, cit- izens look to the medical community for answers and hope. The doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are our heroes. They risk their lives to get us the answers we are searching for. They’re the ones making sure that guidelines are being followed and precautions are being taken for our safety.
Colquitt Regional Medical Center is one of many hospitals ensuring the safety of its patients. One person you will see walking down the hospital halls and treating patients is Dr. Michael Brown. Not only does Brown practice pulmonology, but he also works in critical care and is the chief medical officer at the hospital.
As a pulmonologist, Brown works as a lung specialist. He sees patients who deal with a variety of lung issues including asthma, shortness of breath, and lung diseases. As one can imagine, Brown has recently been helping patients with lung complications caused by COVID-19. Studies have shown that patients with a history of lung-related issues have been impacted the most during this pandemic, but there are ways to help control the numbers from rising.
“To protect yourself from COVID-19, the best thing that we can do is work together as a community,”
Brown said. “We all need to wear masks when we are in public areas. So, any time you are within six feet of an individual, you should be wearing a mask.”
The hospital is working hard to ensure that needs are being met for each patient. Safety measures have been implemented to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As an example, all employees and visitors are required to wear a mask inside the hospital at all times. All healthcare workers must also wear goggles or shields in addition to masks when coming into contact with a patient. The hospital has also put into place COVID zones and COVID-free zones within the emergency department and ICU. If there is suspicion that a patient coming in has COVID symptoms, they are placed in a designated COVID zone.
That is just inside the hospital. Outside the hospi- tal, Brown said there are steps that patients have to follow before getting any procedure.
“Anyone coming in for a surgery or same-day procedure will be tested for COVID prior to their procedure date. Those who are coming in for a test must be screened for body temperature and are asked a series of questions about possible symptoms or exposure. We ask them to isolate themselves before they come in for those procedures,” Brown said. “It’s to make sure that we’re not causing extra risks to them or to ourselves.”
The hospital is doing community outreach to help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that have sky- rocketed during this pandemic. This includes helping other, smaller health facilities during this time.
“We’re working with local nursing facilities and areas that have high risk patients to ensure that they’re doing everything they can,” Brown said. “And in the event of them having a positive coronavirus case, we are giving them the assistance they need to make sure that outbreak is limited.”
Brown is extremely pleased with the way the hospital team has helped their patients, even when it comes to providing testing kits. In the early stages of the pandemic in March and April, testing kits were not as readily available as they are now. The hospital had to depend on companies outside their institution, which changed week to week and would take some time to get accurate results. Now, the hospital is able to provide rapid COVID-19 testing kits that Brown described as being “monumental.” The test is done by nose swab, and results can be back to the patient with- in two hours.
“Whenever a patient is coming in the hospital, having that ability to rapidly identify them as having the coronavirus or not having the coronavirus enables us to create those COVID zones and COVID-free zones,” he said. “It keeps us from having to utilize some of our protective gear that you don’t require for non-COVID patients.”
It is important to note that testing is limited, and the hospital cannot provide rapid testing at large. Those who are coming to the hospital ill and healthcare workers who have come into contact with infected patients are able to get the rapid test.
Brown’s best advice for dealing with the current pandemic is to stay calm, be rational with your thoughts, isolate yourself from those who are sick, and wash your hands frequently. He is optimistic that a cure will be found one day and is proud of his team and the organization. Every day, Brown looks forward to being on the front lines to help those in need.
Written by: Tyrah Walker