As the world continues to make unprecedented decisions related to the COVID-19 illness, Mercy has implemented the following procedures to protect its patients and caregivers, according to a press release issued March 23:
Emergency Department Triage
Some Mercy hospitals across our communities, including four in the metro area – Mercy St. Louis, Mercy South, Mercy Washington and Mercy Jefferson – will be opening a special triage space near the main ER entrance to immediately provide help and masks for those who think they may have COVID-19. Adding this extra level of triage also protects patients who are visiting the ER for unrelated issues. An initial triage nurse will quickly assess the reason for a patient’s visit and if COVID-19 is suspected, the patient will be isolated from the rest of the patients and treated in that space. If the potential COVID-19 patients are more ill, they will be routed through a separate entrance to minimize exposure to the waiting room and other patients.
Dedicated Care Areas
Mercy is setting up dedicated care areas in some clinic and hospital locations to keep those with suspected respiratory illnesses needing care separate from other patients. Given the unprecedented challenge, these areas have been designed to better re-purpose our doctors, nurses and other co-workers with the goal of protecting the health of all patients seeking health care. Given the specialized nature of these locations, walk-ins will not be accepted and patients will need a provider referral to be cared for in these areas.
As a leader in virtual care, Mercy is taking steps for patients to visit its providers in a secure method via virtual visits. Virtual care is used to reduce exposure risk for patients and possible transmission for the healthy and ill alike. For outpatient visits, more details will be coming soon on how patients can connect via their MyMercy accounts.
Online Risk Assessment
Mercy is creating an online risk assessment to help patients understand if they need to be tested for COVID-19 based on their current symptoms and risk factors. Following the assessment, the patient will be provided with instruction on next best steps based on the patients’ answers within the assessment and guided through the process including possible testing, triage, monitoring and in-home care if necessary.
To protect patients, co-workers and the community, Mercy further expanded visitor restrictions as of Monday, March 23. No visitors are allowed in the hospital except as outlined below:
- One visitor per OB patient
- Two visitors per NICU patient
- Two visitors per pediatric patient and only the same two visitors are allowed for the child’s length of stay. If the child is positive for COVID-19, they would then only be allowed one visitor. No sibling visitation is allowed for pediatric patients [includes newborn population].
- One visitor for urgent procedures
- Exceptions for compassionate care circumstances will be made
- Generally, adult behavioral health patients will not be allowed visitors, child/adolescent patients are limited to one visitor and supervised video visits are encouraged.