Video by Patty Stocker
State Rep. James Arciero gets the perspective of COVID-19 from Chief Executive Officer and President of Circle Health/Lowell General Hospital, Jody White. The two discuss how the hospital and its staff have been handling the crisis for the past eight weeks, what they did to prepare, how they are doing currently, and what the future holds for the health care industry.
“It goes back to the top of March when all of a sudden this thing called coronavirus, COVID, hits and away we go, ” said White. “We were asked as an industry, by the governor, to basically prepare. And that was two things: to stop doing things that weren’t emergent….and preserving our staff, preserving our personal protection equipment, and building capacity. Within two days we dropped 40 percent of our business.”
When asked how the hospital is faring today, White said, “I am feeling really good about the number of staff we have. When we open our incident command meetings, it always talks about that this is a team sport. Folks that used to do work that we are not doing anymore are now coming out and being greeters, handing out masks…folks that used to work in the operating room are now helping support our intensive care patients.”
One of the good things that has come out of the crisis is the surge in the popularity of telehealth, said White. Telehealth is the use of medical services through video conferencing. Telehealth services before March were at 17 percent to 18 percent, now they are 89 percent to 90 percent, White said. “Patients love it, physicians love it. ”
White reminds people that hospitals are a very safe place to be. “You would not believe the efforts of the hospitals across the commonwealth,” White said. “These are very safe places, One thing we’ve learned is how to handle this business and how to keep people safe.”