Caring for our Community During COVID-19

By: Jeremy Barclay, Chief Executive Officer, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center and Treasurer, Round Rock Chamber

At St. David’s HealthCare and St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, one of our primary obligations to our community is disaster preparedness, and our team has been specifically preparing for COVID-19 as the threat became clear early on in the process. Still today, we watch the models closely to stay up to date with the volatility of this pandemic and plan for many different scenarios that may emerge. Each of our hospitals has a surge plan designed to provide additional capacity, caregivers, physicians, supplies and equipment. And, even these plans are reviewed and revised daily based on what is currently happening within our community, what is projected to happen, and what we’re seeing in communities that have experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks.

We’ve implemented numerous infection prevention measures to keep our patients and our staff safe, the most recent being universal masking, in which all employees wear masks throughout the hospital. This protocol expands mask usage beyond patient care areas with suspected or positive COVID-19 cases so that we can continue to keep our incredible staff safe. We also implemented a ‘no visitor’ policy beginning Sunday, March 22, in order to reduce the traffic in and out of the hospital and increase the likelihood that we all remain able to care for your loved ones. There are a few exceptions made for laboring and post-partum patients; patients in the neonatal ICU (NICU); patients requiring surgery; and, patients receiving end-of-life care. These visitors and all patients are required to wear masks when not in private patient rooms within the hospital.

We’re also finding even more ways to take care of our own hospital staff during this unique time. Our food and nutrition services director created an employee grocery store in our cafeteria where we can purchase certain staple food items and basic household necessities, like toilet paper, here at the hospital, enabling us to continue to care for our own families while we care for the families in our community.

I have been incredibly moved by our community’s support and encouragement for our caregivers. Each night at about 6:30 p.m., when the majority of our shifts change over, we have had community members circle the parking lot with flashing lights, honking horns and loud voices to celebrate and encourage hospital staff members who are selflessly caring for others during this time of need. You would not believe the impact it has on our team, as we all feel disconnected from the community. Every night, I receive messages from our staff who are brought to tears by this beautiful act of kindness and support for our team. Numerous local businesses have also shown their support by delivering individually packaged food items for our employees, and we are so extremely grateful to those who provide this much-needed recognition for our team during this time. This kind of support makes a difference on so many levels, and we ask that you continue to show the love from afar because it literally keeps us going.

St. David’s HealthCare recently launched HeroCare, a community-wide appreciation campaign that honors, thanks and highlights healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign provides ideas for supportive gestures for community members to recognize healthcare workers. We have created posters—in English and Spanish—available for people to download and post on their windows. We are also encouraging community members to string lights in the shape of a heart on their homes and/or businesses as an additional way to show appreciation. Visit our website to participate in HeroCare or download a poster.

At this time, you can do your part by following the orders of local, state and federal governments and staying home, unless traveling for an essential activity, such as picking up medicine or food. If you are on your way to an essential activity in the evening, consider stopping by the hospital between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to honk your horn and show your support for our amazing team. If you are working for an essential business that remains open, you can download our posters to hang in your windows to show the community you are cheering on those fighting this first-hand. If you are working from home, we would love for you to hang our posters or decorate your yard or apartment balcony with lights in the shape of a heart.

These small gestures do not go unnoticed. Together we are much stronger as a community, and ours continues to amaze me. Thank you all so much for acknowledging our team and for trusting us to provide exceptional care when we all need it the most.