It’s been a tough year for all of us. Healthcare systems around the world have been challenged like never before. Despite this, Washington Health System has continued to experience growth and celebrate multiple noteworthy achievements. Although adapting to change has been necessary on almost every front, there are certain non-negotiables here, the first being our dedication to the health of our patients. This continues to be our top priority, and we evaluate our offerings regularly and consistently to ensure the highest standard of care for them.
RESPONDING TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS
With this in mind, our focus this past year has been helping to control the COVID-19 virus. This has meant treating patients with acute symptoms of the virus, along with taking proper precautions in order to keep everyone safe.
• We were the first healthcare facility in Washington County to provide COVID testing in 2020.
• We increased access to virtual appointments in 2020 so that our patients could receive medical treatment from the safety of their home.
• Pregnant mothers were offered home blood pressure cuffs so that they could monitor their own blood pressure and report it during virtual checkups.
• We provide(d) virtual pregnancy education for all local women.
• We created respiratory clinics so that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms could be seen separately from other patients. Isolating those who might have been exposed to COVID-19 ensured that patients were not exposed to the virus.
• We treated COVID-19 patients with a cutting-edge antibody drug in December 2020 that reduced the severity of the virus and kept people out of the hospital.
• We opened three outpatient COVID-19 vaccine sites in February 2021.
At the time of this publication, WHS has administered the largest number of vaccines in Washington and Greene Counties. Right now, demand far exceeds supply, but we are committed to quickly administer vaccines as we receive supply. To find more information on whether you qualify for the vaccine at WHS and how to make an appointment, please visit www.whs.org/covid.
WHS LUNG SCREENING PROGRAM
We introduced our new lung screening program in 2020. This special program offers our high-risk patients the opportunity to monitor risk and access early detection of lung cancer. Patients who qualify will receive yearly CT scans, which are covered by most insurance plans. Clinical studies show that regular screening results in a 20% decrease in lung cancer deaths.
RAISING THE BAR ON OBSTETRICS CARE
• WHS is now in the top 10 percent nationwide when it comes to providing exceptional care of mothers and babies after having received the Health Grades 2020 Labor and Delivery Excellence Award. Patients in hospitals with this distinction have a 40% lower risk of experiencing complications due to pregnancy and delivery.
• For the sixth year in a row, WHS received the Healthgrades five-star distinction for vaginal deliveries, as well as the five-star distinction for C-section delivery two years in a row.
• In Spring of 2020, we finished construction on our WHS CARE Center for Family Birth and Women’s Health. The unit was designed with input from community mothers and doctors. This renovation includes features that enhance the comfort of mothers and families, while also considering optional functionality for doctors and nurses.
• We also have a level 2 special care nursery in the new CARE Center for Family Birth and Women’s Health, which is designed to care for babies with additional medical needs. A highly trained neonatal team member is present at every birth in our hospital.
ADVANCEMENTS IN CARDIOLOGY
• WHS received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR Chest Pain—MI Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award for 2020. We were one of 124 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor. Our cardiology department continues to treat heart attack patients to the highest degree of care, according to standards set by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association. Participants in the registry use data to improve quality of care, thereby positively affecting outcomes of heart attack patients.
• WHS began using TAVR and WATCHMAN cardiac operating procedures, which are less invasive surgical methods with improved outcomes for aortic valve stenosis and atrial fibrillation.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Our greatest resource is our people. A growing emphasis on preventative care, aging baby boomers, and the rising rate of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes have necessitated an increased demand for nurses.
To help fill this need, WHS launched a tuition repayment program for the WHS Greene facility, which helps local nurses pay off student loans and guarantee a career within our hospital system. Qualifying candidates must provide proof of outstanding student loan debt. WHS Greene will pay up to $10,000 in return for a two-year service contract.
Each year, employees may reapply for an additional $10,000 in loan repayment for an additional two-year contract. Through this program, nurses may qualify for up to $30,000 in loan repayment for a six-year service agreement at WHS Greene.
WHS has also extended tuition assistance to phlebotomists and medical assistants. We granted five local students with a full scholarship to a phlebotomist training program and guaranteed them a position at WHS upon completing the five-week program. We look forward to offering more scholarships in the future.
A similar program was created for medical assistants. We offered full scholarships to complete the MA training program at WHS in exchange for a two-year contract with WHS.
WHS is committed to investing in our staff and the quality of care they provide.
WELLNESS IS A LIFESTYLE
In October 2020, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the WHS Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center. Our Wellness Center has been committed to improving the health of the community through its commitment to mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery.
Plans for celebrations were dashed by the safety and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, throughout the pandemic, when the state regulations allowed fitness facilities to be open and operational, the center honored its commitment to the community by taking all the necessary precautions to remain open and safe for its members.
The Wellness Center opened in 2000 and has retained 2000 of its charter members, including a member who is getting ready to celebrate his 101st birthday. With some exceptions due to COVID-19, members can still take advantage of classes, the aquatics program, health and wellness programs, and physical therapy. Many people come to the Wellness Center for physical therapy and then often times decide to become a member for a continued healthy lifestyle.
We have made a number of improvements at WHS Greene in Waynesburg in the past year.
• We renovated inpatient rehab unit at WHS Greene to better serve our patients including those that need swing bed services. In the swing bed unit, patients who meet specific qualifications can receive extra care before being released from the hospital. The program combines medical care and rehabilitation, led by a team of doctors, nurses and rehabilitators and others, to allow the patient to return to his or her regular activities. In February 2020, WHS opened a spacious first-floor rehab gym. The gym features exercise equipment, assistive devices and spaces that simulate a real home, including a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Patients and their families can learn how to maneuver their homes safely and perform everyday tasks in a practical way.
• We also updated the Emergency Room at WHS Greene. The goal of the aesthetic improvements is to decrease stress and create a calming environment for patients and their families.
We could not have made it through this past year without the hard work and dedication of our amazing staff. Everyone stepped up to take on extra responsibilities. We thank them for their tireless work and selfless dedication.
We would also like to thank the community for their outpouring of support for our healthcare workers. You, our neighbors, made thousands of donations in the form of handmade masks, snacks, financial donations and more. Seeing the community come together during such uncertain times gives us hope for the future and the great things to come in the next year.
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