On Wednesday, leadership from Memorial Health System held a virtual community meeting via live streaming video to update the local press and community on how the Washington county healthcare provider intends to move forward following Ohio governor Mike Dewine’s May 1st lifting of restrictions related to COVID-19.

The meeting was kicked off by MHS President and CEO Scott Cantley, who took time to thank Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, and the hardworking front line staff at all Memorial Health System facilities. Mr. Cantley specifically MHS’s nursing staff, pointing out that May 6th is National Nurses Day.

The meeting was then turned over to Dr. Dan Breece, VP of Physician Services & Chief Medical Officer for Memorial Health System. Dr. Breece began by pointing out how well the guidelines put in place had helped to flatten the curve of the virus, stating that at no time did their facilities have any more than eight COVID-positive patients at any one time. He then went on to speak on some of the steps being taken with the resumption of non-emergent services. “We are definitely respecting physical distancing,” he said. Dr. Breece also stated that patients would be allowed to have one additional visitor to accompany them to their appointments at MHS clinics. Most importantly, Dr. Breece said, was that folks not allow concerns about the COVID-19 virus to prevent them from seeking out needed care. “All of our services are available,” he said.

Next up, Chief Nurse Executive Paige Smith took to the podium to speak more about what the facilities are doing to keep community members safe. Ms. Smith stated that they are recommending cloth masks for all patients, as well as requiring masks for all visitors. To ensure proper precautions are taken, staff will be taking temperatures and providing masks at all facility entrances (MHS is still accepting donations of cloth masks from the community). Ms. Smith went on to say that they are using signage in waiting areas to encourage physical distancing and using Xenex robots, which use UV light as a disinfectant, to help with their cleaning processes. Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Smith stated that admitted patients would also be allowed to have one visitor or representative, though she stressed that there would be restrictions placed on who was allowed to make visitations.

Before taking press questions, Mr. Cantley returned to the video to give his final comments. “We are built to handle infectious diseases,” he said, echoing Dr. Breece’s statements that MHS facilities had more than enough capacity to handle the ongoing crisis. Mr. Cantley then went on to again call out the hard work and effort of the Memorial Health System staff by saying, “There was an incredible amount of courage….I want to say thank you.”

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