COVID-19 Response

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COVID-19: CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System Information and Updates April 29, 2020

Universal Masking

Effective 5/4: To make sure we continue to follow the CDC's recommendation for Universal Masking; we are asking all patients, visitors and employees to wear a mask while visiting our facilities.

Homemade cloth masks are appropriate for visiting our clinics, you can follow instructions to make a safe mask here.

We are committed to ensuring that our clinics continue to be a safe place to receive care – we appreciate your continued support and understanding as we implement these guidelines.


CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System to Resume Elective Surgeries by End of April

Texarkana, TX – CHRISTUS Health will certify all of its Texas facilities to resume elective care, and CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System is preparing to resume elective procedures and surgeries by the end of April, consistent with the provisions of the Governor Greg Abbot’s original order on April 17.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System has secured the personal protective equipment (PPE) and excess capacity necessary to safely care for the full spectrum of medical conditions and patient needs that we have worked so hard to address in our community for more than 104 years.

We are working with physicians now to reschedule their patients for medical and surgical procedures that have been postponed due to the governor’s initial order in March. While we understand the reason that these procedures had to be postponed, waiting has imposed a hardship for many of these patients, and many can no longer delay care for heart disease, cancer, pain, general, orthopedic and neurosurgeries and other conditions. We are working to avoid a surge in illness and suffering as a result of deferred and delayed care.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System is expanding its surgery scheduling to include evening and weekend availability for patients’ convenience and to ensure it is ready to provide care that has been delayed.

“When we discuss the procedures that have been delayed or deferred, we are often talking about a patient’s quality of life,” said Jason Rounds, President, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. “And that means quality of life many years into the future, as some of these procedures will extend a patient’s life. Getting back into our operating rooms with these patients is crucial to their health. However, safety is a cornerstone of our care now and it always has been. We must ensure our patients, Associates and physicians are safe, and that does not change. That has been a core belief of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System since the very beginning,” Rounds said.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System practices infection prevention every day. In addition, the system recently announced that is leading the Texarkana community, and the country, by offering antibody testing for some patients, Associates and physicians. This new screening tool allows the hospital to test these groups for antibodies related to the COVID-19 virus, helping it to identify how each patient should receive care and how to keep its caregivers safe.

Not only that, but CHRISTUS St. Michael has been prepared the last several weeks to continue to provide necessary, non-COVID care to keep people safe and healthy. To keep all who enter our facilities safe, CHRISTUS St. Michael continues to have these following precautions in place:

  • Limiting visitors;
  • Screening everyone who comes through our doors including temperature checks;
  • Isolating COVID-19 patients;
  • Screening and temperature checks for Associates and physicians;
  • Requiring everyone on our campuses to wear masks;
  • Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so their caregivers and support staff limit the number of times they enter their rooms.

This may be an unprecedented time, but we have experienced many of these since CHRISTUS was founded 154 years ago. In fact, the first three Sisters who started the CHRISTUS ministry in Galveston faced an epidemic of Yellow Fever within the first six months of opening the very first hospital. Epidemics and tragedies have been part of CHRISTUS’ history, and so too has the resolve, after each of those challenges, to move on in love and service to those in need.

“CHRISTUS St. Michael is answering the call to help our community – today and tomorrow. In all that we do, we are devoted to keeping patients, their families, our caregivers and our Associates safe. And we are here when you need care. We are ready,” Rounds said.


CHRISTUS Health Offers ‘Game Changer’ Antibodies Test for COVID-19

CHRISTUS Health System is first in the communities it serves to offer new screening tool

CHRISTUS Health announced today it is now offering a new screening tool to some patients, as well as doctors, nurses and other CHRISTUS Associates on the frontlines to learn who has been infected with COVID-19—AND—who might now carry protective antibodies.

“CHRISTUS Health is a safe place to receive care, with high-reliability processes and procedures for infection prevention and mitigating the spread of illness,” explained Dr. Sam Bagchi, CHRISTUS Health’s EVP and Chief Clinical Officer. “Beginning today, we are adding the unprecedented additional layer of antibody screening to help survey for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections among patients and caregivers.”

For the last several weeks, the team has quickly assessed the test’s reliability and then deployed the kits to CHRISTUS hospitals and ambulatory sites across the United States and Latin America. Your test results should be ready the following day. We will call you to discuss your test results.

“CHRISTUS is the first in our communities, and is leading the nation by using advanced COVID-19 antibody testing to screen people in our facilities to determine if they have had a COVID-19 infection in the past or have one now,” said Dave Benner, PharmD, MS, MHA, FACHE Vice President, Clinical Ancillary Services.

The country’s leading scientists believe antibody-based tests to be essential in the war against COVID-19.

“This would be a game-changer in restarting parts of the economy more quickly and safely,” Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote in an April 1 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

CHRISTUS will first begin using the test on Associates and caregivers on the frontlines. The rapid screening tool will also be used on hospitalized patients that the clinical team believes may have been infected with COVID-19 as well as patients who are scheduled for an urgent surgery.

“People should not put off urgent and emergent procedures, and should continue to seek the care they need. We know that, regardless of COVID-19, heart attacks and strokes have not stopped. We need to be able to treat people who urgently need to be in an operating room,” said Dr. Bagchi. “With the availability of an antibody test, we can test anyone who comes in for an urgent surgery. This will allow us to reliably know if a patient has COVID-19 before they start having symptoms or might normally be tested.”

This innovative screening solution is in an addition to the ongoing PCR tests many providers, including CHRISTUS, are able to perform. PCR is a laboratory technique known as polymerase chain reaction, and is the current FDA-approved test for diagnosing patients with COVID-19.

This is part of the work that CHRISTUS continues to do every day to keep its facilities safe from the spread of infection. To keep all who enter hospitals and clinics safe we have added the following precautions:

  • Limiting visitors;
  • Screening everyone who comes through our doors;
  • Isolating COVID-19 patients to one area of the facility;
  • Random temperature checks for Associates;
  • Requiring all Associates and visitors to wear masks;
  • Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so their caregivers and support staff limit the number of times they enter their rooms.
  • Virtual medicine is now available in every one of the CHRISTUS ministries at christushealth.org/virtual-medicine

Universal Masking

The health and safety of our patients, visitors, physicians, Associates and our communities remain of utmost importance. Following CDC's recommendation for Universal Masking, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System is requiring all visitors, patients, physicians and employees to wear masks while at any of our facilities at all times. While we are providing masks to our Associates and physicians, we will not provide medical isolation masks to visitors. This is to ensure we have the supplies we need for direct patient care. Hospitalized patients do not have to wear a mask while in their rooms.

We urge visitors and patients to feel free to wear homemade cloth masks or disposable masks they bring from home. Fortunately, Mayo Manufacturing has generously donated disposable masks that we can offer to our visitors while supplies last. You can also learn more about how to make your own cloth masks by visiting the CDC website.

Our health professionals providing care for suspected COVID-19 or known COVID-19 patients wear N95 respirator masks along with other PPE (personal protective equipment).

Lady wearing a facemask


CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System Updates Visitor Guidelines

In accordance with CDC and Health Department guidelines, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta and CHRISTUS St. Michael Rehabilitation Hospital have restricted visitors to those deemed essential, vital or necessary for the care and well-being of our patients.

CHRISTUS Health wants to assure the people of these communities who trust in us for their health care that we are prepared and stand ready to care for our community. Because our goal is to ensure our hospital continues to be a safe place to receive care, we are following CDC guidelines and implementing new visitation restrictions. The goal of these updated visitor procedures is to limit the risk of exposure to our patients, visitors, Associates, physicians and volunteers.

Visitors will be guided to a designated entrance and restricted to one person per patient, with the following guideline:

  • Emergency Department: 1 Visitor
  • Isolation Patients: 0 Visitors
  • Surgery Patients: 1 Visitor
  • Same Day Procedure: 1 Visitor
  • Critical Care: 1 Visitor (with the exception of patients in isolation - 0 Visitors)
  • Medical-Surgical Units: 1 Visitor
  • Labor and Delivery: 1 Visitor - No children including siblings
  • Pediatrics: Parents Only - No children including siblings
  • NICU: Parents Only - No children including siblings

To safely regulate access to patient care areas within our hospital as well as off-site patient care areas, visitor screening stations will be placed throughout the campus. All visitors will be screened to make certain they do not fit a COVID-19 profile, based on CDC guidelines. Depending on the screening outcome, appropriate protocols will be implemented.

The public will be allowed to enter these hospitals only through designated entrances. The Emergency Department entrance is to be used only by emergency/urgent patients or those who are seriously ill or injured and seeking care.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System Visitation

  • The North and Main Entrances will be open 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily. All persons entering at these points will be directed to a location in the front lobby for screening.
  • From 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., visitors will be able to use the Emergency Department entrance. Screening will be conducted.
  • Medical Plaza West (POB) West will be open from 5 a.m. - 9 p.m., and hospital visitors will be screened after entering.

EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

  • Entrances will be used only by persons requiring emergency/urgent services between the hours of 5 a.m. - 9 p.m. Each patient will be limited to one visitor/caregiver entering hospital with him/her.
  • From 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., visitors will be able to use the Emergency Department Entrance and will be screened.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Rehabilitation Hospital

  • The Main Entrance will be open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. All persons entering at these points will be directed to a location in the front lobby for screening.
  • From 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., visitors can gain access, if appropriate, through using the phone between the outer front doors and the inner front doors.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta

  • The Main Entrance will be open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.
  • All persons entering at these points will be directed to a location in the front lobby for screening.

We want to be perfectly clear: CHRISTUS St. Michael facilities remain safe places for all to receive quality care. While COVID-19 is new, our processes and procedures in place for infection prevention and preventing the spread of illness are not.

Thank you for working with us as we work to keep our community safe by extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.


CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System Statement Regarding COVID-19

With positive cases of COVID-19 in the Texarkana area, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System wants to assure the people of this region who trust in us for their health care – we are prepared and stand ready to care for our community. The health care community, including CHRISTUS St. Michael, is united in our commitment to responding to the needs of all patients safely and effectively.

At CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, we understand the impact of social distancing and importance of limiting your risk of exposure to COVID-19. However, the public should be confident in continuing to seek the care they need, especially in the case of an emergency.

Our Emergency Departments in Texarkana and Atlanta are here to safely provide care for life-threatening illness and injury. We urge you: please do not ignore symptoms of stroke, heart attack, issues with diabetes, COPD and other urgent health conditions. Also, please seek immediate care for the emergency warning symptoms of COVID-19 such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in chest, new confusion, or bluish lips or face.

We want to be perfectly clear – CHRISTUS St. Michael remains a safe place for all to receive quality care. Go to the Emergency Department or call 9-1-1 if you are urgently ill. While COVID-19 is new, our processes and procedures in place for infection prevention and preventing the spread of illness are not. To learn more about COVID-19, go to www.cdc.gov.

We suggest that everyone follow the CDC guidelines regarding prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and the flu. The best things anyone can do to prevent the spread of illness are:

  • wash your hands well before eating, drinking or touching your face
  • avoid close contact, wear masks covering your mouth and nose
  • cover cough and sneezes
  • clean and disinfect

In addition, we advise anyone who may be ill with fever and cough or shortness of breath and have had travel to any region that has known community spread of COVID-19 or if you have any of the above symptoms and exposure to a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, call 1-800-458-4559 to be connected to our CHRISTUS COVID Hotline. For more information on COVID-19 and preventive measures, please visit www.CDC.gov.

CHRISTUS values the importance of collaboration and coordinated action for the identification and care of those patients exhibiting signs of the COVID-19. Which is why we continue to follow CDC interim guidelines and work non-stop, in partnership with local, state and federal government authorities. We are fortunate to be part of a local health care community committed to responding to the needs of these patients in the safest manner necessary.