January 19, 2022
Good Samaritan Hospital’s doctors and nurses long have put patients first. Their genuine commitment to “being there” for those in need served as a deep-seeded cultural and treatment foundation to draw upon when the COVID-19 pandemic struck San Jose two years ago.
Doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists relied on their “be present in the moment” approach that first day in late January 2020 when one of the California’s first COVID-19 patients came through the doors at Good Samaritan Hospital.
“The precautions started from that moment,” said Robert Petree, Pulmonary Director at Good Samaritan Hospital, whose team manages the respiratory devices and technology crucial to treating COVID. “We were diligent in providing equipment to our frontline caregivers and essential workers, their dedication led to methods for improving patient care.”
Care providers not only were there for patients as they were needed most, but focused on critical innovative ways to improve how they were combatting a pandemic virus.
“After the first wave, we were able to apply more evidence-based medicine and develop a more uniform approach to treating patients,” said Dr. Jeffery Marcus, a pulmonologist at Good Samaritan Hospital. “We created a clinical COVID-19 committee that was multi-disciplinary, and addressed all aspects of COVID-19 care from bedside to lab to therapeutics. We stayed up-to-date and as a result had some of the most successful results in the West.”
When the virus hit its “second wave,” the hospital also turned to technology for help. C-NATE software from HCA Healthcare was used to analyze how a patient on a ventilator was responding from moment to moment and determine if there should be changes in care. It would then instantly alert the care team.
Similarly, the pulmonary team equipped patient monitors with Bluetooth technology so caregivers could check on a patient’s progress without needing to enter the room. Special COVID-19 packs of protective equipment for treating a single patient were assembled, so that a full cart of equipment wouldn’t have to be wheeled into the room, preserving those supplies. Special carts were built, containing all the protective gear that a care team would need in case of an emergency involving a COVID-19 patient.
“We shared all this with the other hospitals in the HCA Healthcare Far West region,” Petree said. “We also shared staffing with Regional Medical Center (GSH’s sister facility in San Jose), moved equipment back and forth where it was needed, even sharing with the county hospital. It created amazing camaraderie; we all became a lot closer and built a super COVID-19 team.”
Petree and his team found themselves addressing the effects the pandemic was having on the global supply of masks, HEPA filters and other protective gear needed to contain the virus and prevent its spread through the air.
That effort enabled the hospital to put a filter in every room in the emergency department and in the COVID-19 unit. The pulmonary team acquired 80 Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) units, worn by nurses and other caregivers at a COVID-19 patient’s bedside. Nurses working with COVID-19 patients were custom-fitted with individual protective PAPR hoods.
For the broader staff, Good Samaritan Hospital established universal masking before mandates by federal, state or local public health authorities. Good Samaritan Hospital’s healthcare system, HCA Healthcare, also invested in a manufacturer of personal protective equipment so workers would have access to a steady stream of safety supplies.
With the new omicron variant not yet at its peak, the need for COVID-19 safety hasn’t diminished. But Petree, Marcus and their colleagues know the hospital is ready.
“Everyone is engaged in the process: nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians,” Marcus said. “We’ve been at the epicenter since the beginning. We’re here for our patients, each other and for whatever COVID-19 brings next.”