Healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment

COVID-19

Fighting the pandemic together.

The virus known as COVID-19 has presented all of us with many challenges. However, with an inspiring amount of support from our communities, Baylor Scott & White responded to this pandemic with immediate screening capabilities, enhanced telehealth encounters, heightened safety measures, and innovative research protocols to help keep both our patients and employees healthy.

Robots use UV light to help sanitize hard-to-clean surfaces in patient rooms.

Fighting the Virus

To address this crisis, our robust telehealth team developed a free online COVID-19 screening tool. Patients requiring further evaluation complete an eVisit or visit a drive-thru testing site. Since mid-March, Baylor Scott & White has conducted more than 153,000 digital screenings and 42,000 eVisits for COVID-19.

In addition, generous donations from our community helped secure robots that use UV light to sanitize rooms by disinfecting counters, equipment, beds, and other hard-to-clean surfaces prior to standard cleaning procedures. Use of robotic technology helps keep our care providers safe and minimizes possible human error in the sterilization process.

Working to Find a Solution

In March, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute formed a special COVID-19 Research Task Force with a collection of specialists from a variety of fields, including pulmonology, general and cardiothoracic surgery, and critical care. This group oversees two active clinical trials and the development of numerous sponsored and investigator-initiated trials. These trials range from testing the effectiveness of experimental drugs and fighting COVID-instigated inflammation to investigating drugs to minimize the severity of exposure in frontline staff.

 When asked about his work, Robert L. Gottlieb, MD, PhD, principal investigator on the active trials says, “This virus is not just a threat to our patients; it is a threat to our family, peers, friends, coworkers, and ourselves. We are doing everything in our power to fight it.” More trials are in development to protect the public and employees. Click here to learn more about these studies.

Moving Forward with Safe Care

We know that life does not stop in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, more than 90 percent of our patients are being treated for conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

To provide quality, safe care for all, Baylor Scott & White has designed a comprehensive COVID-19 Safe Care program. “Patients should feel confident seeking our healthcare services,” says Alex Arroliga, MD, chief medical officer for Baylor Scott & White Health. “We have been safely providing emergent care for weeks, while remaining prepared for influxes of COVID-19 patients; and now, we are well positioned to resume scheduled procedures, screenings and visits, helping those we serve avoid the unintended consequences of postponing healthcare.” Click here to learn more about COVID-19 Safe Care.

Supporting our Employees

COVID-19 has also affected the financial health of our communities. In March, government health officials made the difficult decision to suspend non-urgent surgeries and services to help slow the spread of the disease. While successful, these measures have resulted in a dramatic drop in patient volumes—between 50 and 90 percent.

To protect our employees, Baylor Scott & White guaranteed pay for two months. We also expanded our Employees 1st Emergency Assistance Fund, funded entirely by philanthropy, to help cover unforeseen costs associated with the virus, such as childcare, monthly bills, hotel rooms for frontline workers, and other out-of-pocket expenses. To date, the community, Baylor Scott & White  leadership, employees, and board members have contributed more than $2.6 million, assisting more than 864 employees across the state.

“I don’t know what to say other than ‘thank you.’ You have no idea how much this is going to help my family right now. I wish you were here so I could hug you!

Employees 1st Emergency Assistance Fund recipient

Now, as we are beginning to receive early data showing the significant implications of the pandemic on Texans, and the operational and financial implications on our organization, it has become clear that we must re-examine everything. Several measures aimed at reducing costs were implemented in late May, including a temporary salary reduction for all senior leadership, plans for a new physician compensation model, and, as a last resort, a reduction in our workforce by approximately three percent.

“We care deeply about these teammates, and we will be supporting their transition in all ways possible, including helping them find other employment,” says chief executive officer Jim Hinton. “This is a time for compassion and grace. It is a time to recognize the impact this pandemic has had on our world, on our communities, on our families, and on each one of us. Our Christian founding and all the faiths that have shaped our journey call us to lead with love. And we are doing that now.”

First responders gather to show their appreciation for healthcare workers at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple.

Staying Positive with Community Support

As Baylor Scott & White Health employees battle the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines, they are buoyed by a wave of support from a grateful community.

“We are incredibly thankful for, and humbled by, the outpouring of support from our regional communities,” says Jana Sharpley, president of the Baylor Scott & White Central Texas Foundation. “The impact we can have when we all come together to support and encourage each other is truly amazing.”

Kathryn, Lyla, and Evan helped make homemade masks for healthcare workers in College Station.

Our friends banded together to assist Baylor Scott & White, through donations of homemade personal protective equipment, meals, and personal financial support. Baylor Scott & White staff members volunteered their time with Faith In Action Initiatives (FIAI) to manufacture thousands of face shields for medical staff. With only 30 volunteers, FIAI created twenty thousand shields in just fourteen days. Local restaurants throughout Central Texas donated meals to help sustain frontline employees working long hours. Other groups like Good Friends in Marble Falls offer one hour of daily prayer.

“Everything our communities have done—from messages of support to donated equipment and food to monetary contributions—each played a vital role in carrying us through these challenging times,” says Jana Sharpley. 

While much has changed, our dedication to our mission, even in the midst of continued unpredictability, remains constant. Baylor Scott & White continues to work tirelessly to provide high-quality healthcare and support to both our patients and communities. We are here for you.

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