All of us at Cottage Health are on the frontlines of fighting this virus and among the first to see impacts to the health of our community, friends and neighbors. Our healthcare workers are working tirelessly and making enormous personal sacrifices to protect the health of our community.
Every day our patient care teams are providing care and service that puts them at risk of exposure to disease. We have been preparing our hospitals to meet the challenges that are now arriving.
We are aware that individuals exposed to COVID-19 will include healthcare workers. All appropriate public health and hospital protocols are being followed to protect patients, employees and physicians.
As a healthcare organization, we are not able to disclose or confirm health information. Our duty throughout this crisis will remain to protect those who trust us with their care.
Any time a COVID-19 case is identified in our community, we will partner with the Public Health Department to support their investigation and tracking of potential exposure.
As we work around the clock to prepare for COVID-19 in our community, we can share this update:
Cottage Health has 47 negative pressure isolation rooms for patient care, with ability to create additional isolation space. COVID-19 preparedness activities at our hospitals have been ongoing since early this year and include:
• Installation of triage areas in tents outside the emergency departments, to prepare for a surge in community need. These tents are intended for use in the triage and care of severely ill patients in an emergency.
• Beginning March 18 and for the following two weeks, certain elective surgical procedures are being rescheduled. Surgical procedures will continue if they meet critical need criteria. This will help keep people in their homes and will also conserve our supplies and resources.
• Based on a directive from the Santa Barbara Public Health Department, there is a no visitor policy being implemented at our hospitals. Very limited exceptions are allowed.
• Surge planning is ongoing, and we are prioritizing staffing of health care workers to the areas of most need.
• Employees not involved in direct patient care who able to effectively telecommute are asked to work remotely to minimize risk of COVID-19 spread.
• Hospitals are closely monitoring stock and availability of supplies needed for COVID-19 and disaster response.
• A command center is open with a cross-disciplinary response team responding to changing needs in the hospital, and rapidly changing guidelines to protect public health.
• Specialized training is provided for employees and medical staff.
• Our infectious disease and emergency medicine specialists have been conducting both clinical and public educational presentations.
• Nurses and staff members are stationed at Cottage Health’s hospital lobby and emergency entrances to help screen visitors for symptoms and guide patients safely to waiting areas when appropriate.
• Public meetings and public dining inside the hospitals have been discontinued.
• COVID-19 alerts are posted at building entrances.
• COVID-19 screening questions are entered in electronic medical records alert system.
For the general public, the CDC is encouraging use of virtual health technology like Cottage CareNow (cottagehealth.org/carenow) as an option for individuals with common, mild respiratory symptoms to access a healthcare provider without leaving home.
This use of technology for virtual care will help minimize contact and spread of germs and will also help hospitals conserve supplies and resources.
Cottage Health’s Infection Prevention & Control team is experienced in guiding safe care practices for communicable diseases. The community can share in the role of infection prevention by staying home if they are sick with minor symptoms, and following recommended guidelines to prevent spread of germs:
• Wash hands often with soap and water.
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
• Practice social distancing following current public health advisories.
Cottage Health Emergency Departments are experiencing a high volume of calls from the public inquiring about COVID-19 testing. Our emergency departments are prepared to provide care for patients with severe respiratory symptoms.
Currently, our hospitals are not able to offer COVID-19 testing for the general public presenting with low risk and with mild or no symptoms.
For recorded updates on COVID-19, to answer frequently asked questions, Cottage Health offers a COVID-19 recorded information line at 805-324-9019, in English and Spanish.
For more about Cottage Health, visit www.cottagehealth.org.