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Collaboration is Key to Managing COVID-19

Local officials, doctors and hospital work

by Mary Beth TeSelle, Special to The Union

 

As local health care providers continue to adapt to care for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, a collaborative effort involving county health officials, local doctors, and Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is improving communication and resources, leading to better care for all.

As with most challenges in life, cooperation has been the key to many of the problems presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it is adjusting to working from home; figuring out how to manage distance learning; or working together as a community to slow the spread, teamwork has helped to make our new reality a little easier for everyone.

It is no different for those tasked with managing the health aspects of the pandemic: Collaboration is key. Fortunately for Nevada County communities, local leaders realized this early on, creating a system of cooperation that helped all of us, whether we know it or not, beginning in the early weeks of the pandemic.

“More than ever, there has been strong collaboration between the hospital, community providers and public health officials,” says Jill Fitzpatrick, MD, Family Medicine physician with Dignity Health Medical Group – Sierra Nevada. “Last spring, we created a weekly touch base so we could stay aligned and informed of the constant changes we were being faced with and how we were approaching it.”



That “touch base” evolved into a weekly call every Friday morning that continues today. Among the participants are officials with Nevada County Public Health, the area’s two federally qualified health care centers, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Dignity Health Medical Foundation and all of the community physician partners.

Dr. Fitzpatrick says the group immediately went to work, collaborating to find solutions to issues affecting their ability to care for the community. “We address issues such as testing availability and accuracy, PPE needs, staffing issues, treatment protocols, and much more.”



From the perspective of the community’s hospital, the meeting has proven incredibly valuable.

“This weekly meeting has been a tremendous exchange of information and collaboration,” explains Jeffrey Rosenburg, MD, SNMH Chief Medical Officer. “We will continue it after the pandemic.”

Dr. Rosenburg says the weekly meeting has been an important opportunity to share information about a virus that is ever changing.

“Our Chief Hospitalist, Dr. Nathan Claydon runs a Zoom meeting every Friday for the clinical providers of the community to discuss on current experiences and treatments of COVID 19,” Dr. Rosenburg says. “And we have also worked with Tahoe Forrest Hospital and our other regional partners to collaborate on treatment of COVID-19. The county and SNMH have also collaborated to provide vaccinations clinics for the community providers, with the first clinic happening this week.”

This type of cooperation has a direct, positive impact on the quality of care the community receives, Dr. Rosenburg explains. “The cooperation has been essential to provide a united effort to the treatment of COVID-19. We have learned from each other’s experiences and have modified our services from these experiences in order to provide excellent care to the community.”

Dr. Fitpatrick echoes that sentiment.

“Another huge success that we have had is with monoclonal antibody treatments, which are administered to high risk COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms,” she explains. “Our hospital, under the lead of Dr. Claydon, has created a very helpful process to get appropriate patients treated in a timely fashion and, as a result, this program has proven more successful than in most other communities. In other words, our community members have had much better access to this treatment than in most other places.”

And the collaboration extends beyond just the hospital and primary care providers.

“There has been an impressive outreach and willingness from various health care providers including dental offices, specialty care offices, etc. to help coordinate efforts and volunteer their time,” says Dr. Fitzpatrick.

With the news that all Californians over the age of 65 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the collaboration between hospital, physicians, and county health will be more important than ever.

“We continue to work together to address the safe, equitable and quick delivery vaccine,” Dr. Fitzpatrick explains. “This is an overwhelming undertaking and with the directives changing frequently, our already strong communication base will be valuable.”

Nonetheless, everyone agrees that the precedent of cooperation that has been established over the past ten months will continue to serve our community well.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be in this community with all these members cooperating, communicating and working together,” Dr. Fitzpatrick says. “This is not the norm in all counties and it speaks to the amazing people that live and work here and their dedication to this county as a whole.”

Dr. Rosenburg agrees. “I think the pandemic has made us realize how much we need each other. It has solidified our common purpose. A crisis situation prompts the stakeholders to reach out more often and regularly to work together and conserve our resources.”

Dr. Rosenburg says residents should feel confident, knowing that the health of the community is a team effort.

We have outstanding, state of the art health care in Nevada County,” Dr. Rosenburg says. “The community should be proud of the work that all health care providers have delivered. The commitment and the caring is inspiring.”

And through the commitment of both health care providers and the community, he believes an end will soon be in sight.

“We continue to fight and learn every day to help our community get to the end of this pandemic. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Take the vaccine when offered. Thank a health care worker.”

 


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