In these times of facing the pandemic of COVID-19, there is a message that the state’s health care workers and I wish to share: We stand with you. We’re making sure we have every tool in our tool kit to fight this thing together.
From my vantage point, there is a lot of room for hope.
My hope is drawn from the thousands of health care workers who are tirelessly continuing to care for all our patients while also managing the multiple changes in protocol we must now enforce. It’s drawn from the thorough planning by our hospital emergency management team, so we are ready for whatever comes our way. And it is drawn from how well our patients have been faring. The facts are that almost 80 percent of COVID-19 patients will not need hospital care, and of those who do, the vast majority will survive.
As we battle COVID-19, University of Iowa Health Care is proud to be part of the greater Iowa community, a community with tremendous spirit and a deep desire to make a positive difference as we face this together.
Many people have been asking how they can help. Here are five things that every Iowan can do:
• Practice social distancing and wash your hands. Please follow community guidelines for social distancing (6 feet between you and others) and hand hygiene. Although this may seem mundane, wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, reduce socializing to the minimum and only leave the home for essentials. This greatly reduces the spread of the disease. The faster we slow the spread, the faster we can get back to a new normal way of life.
• If you have symptoms, call first. If you have symptoms you think may be related to COVID-19, such as a fever or a new or worsening cough, please call your health care provider before going to an urgent care or walk-in clinic. Area health systems are prepared to help you over the phone or through video visits. If necessary, they will direct you to the appropriate clinic. As always, please proceed to the emergency room for any emergent needs like chest pain or shortness of breath.
• If you need care, seek care. If you have a chronic or serious health condition that requires medical assistance, please work with your health care professional to continue to manage the condition so that it doesn’t worsen. Health care services are still available for patients who need them. We may be caring for you in a new way during this time, using video or phone visits to provide you outpatient care while you remain safely in your home.
• Provide support. Health systems need some critical supplies to help protect their workers. Please consult our website to get more information on the items we need, such as face shields. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the United Way, which is handling coordination of volunteers.
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• Say thanks. Remember the people on the front lines. These are challenging and unprecedented times for health care workers. Even the smallest gestures make a big difference in the morale of the health care workforce. Let your health care professionals know how much you appreciate them. You can’t imagine how a simple note can impact a health care professional. You can always share a comment on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages, and we’ll make sure the staff know you are thinking of them.
While these are challenging times, I am confident that the Iowa spirit, American resilience, and UI Health Care determination will win the day. We will work hard enough and smart enough to overcome the challenges ahead of us. If we work together, we will get back to building our community faster.
Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, is chief executive officer of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and associate vice president of UI Health Care.