The COVID-19 crisis is calling healthcare and mental healthcare providers, first responders, and other essential personnel to serve all of us with great sacrifice to themselves. We are humbled by their devotion to our well-being. We are honored to be in their presence. They remind us of our common humanity and need for each other.
In his book, Soul of Caregiving, Edward M. Smink, Ph.D., reminds us that, “Caregivers experience vulnerability, helplessness, fears, and pain over the traumatic events because they care, because they are human. At its core, the practice of caregiving requires a discipline of the heart, a focus to be present, to listen, and create an interior space of welcome for the one in need.” Yet, in spite of their vulnerability, they continue to serve us at their own risk.
>>National, State, and local groups are finding ways to celebrate these healthcare heroes.
“We wanted to spotlight health care providers because they are the national heroes now caring for others with this disease at a time of great uncertainty,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. “We know their institutions are trying to provide material to help them work safely, but already thousands have been infected.”
Recently four California Air National Guard fighter jets did a flyover of Santa Barbara County as a salute to healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was part of a statewide tour for the F-15C Eagle aircraft that are based in Fresno.
The City of Santa Barbara collaborated with the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, community artists, event production companies, and several nonprofit organizations to show their gratitude to healthcare and essential workers by bathing the Sea Center, Arlington Theater Tower, Lobero Theatre, and the Mission Tower in blue light.
This highly visible, public act of support, as part of the international Light It Blue campaign, invites businesses, venues, and communities to turn blue in support of the frontline medical staff and essential workers who are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic in hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential businesses around the world.
>>Sansum Clinic remains open and serving patients in new ways.
Dr. Kurt Ransohoff, CEO of Sansum Clinic, recently honored their nurses during National Nurse’s Week. “Nurses are at the heart of this organization and at the frontline of our global health crisis. Our nurses’ skill and commitment to our patients is inspiring and I hope you will join me in showing heartfelt appreciation for these dedicated professionals when you see them. This year, honoring our nurses is more important than ever. We celebrate all nurses throughout Santa Barbara County and around the world for their commitment, dedication, and hard work.”
Sansum Clinic is open and its primary care, specialty care, and urgent care providers are dedicated to helping patients receive the healthcare they need. For an in-person appointment, contact your healthcare provider. They are rescheduling many appointments to Telehealth visits by video and phone so patients can see a doctor from the safety of their own homes.
Patients can schedule a Telehealth visit by calling (805) 681-7500 or by visiting telehealth.sansumclinic.org. The Urgent Care Department is still open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Their nursing superheroes running Sansum Clinic’s car-based Covid-19 testing program.
>>Cottage Health is providing front line help for COVID-19 patients.
Ron Werft, CEO of Cottage Health, says, “For several weeks now, physicians, nurses, therapists, and other healthcare workers at Cottage and throughout the county have been on the front lines, day in and out, taking care of patients with COVID-19 and the many others who need our help. These are the heroes of our time. I continue to be inspired by their dedication and their courage.”
Cottage is grateful to the community for responding so generously in donating medical supplies at their collection centers. Over 100 individuals and organizations have donated everything from facemasks to gloves to isolation gowns for healthcare workers. They are also grateful to those who have donated funds to support healthcare workers in need of child care and other services.
In response to the numerous requests they have received inquiring how best to support their staff and other emerging needs, they created the Cottage Emergency Response Fund. All inquiries can be directed to David Dietrich, Vice President for Advancement at [email protected].
>>VNA Health has provided Telehealthcare for over 14 years in Santa Barbara County.
Lynda Tanner, CEO of VNA Health assures us, “The evolving nature of COVID-19 will test our community’s resiliency, and the care we provide for our patients will be even more critical and necessary than ever before. I am so proud to be working alongside such experienced, dedicated, and caring leadership and staff. Together, I am confident we will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger than ever, ready to serve our community and help our patients and their families live well at home.”
Though our community is under a statewide Stay-at-Home Order, VNA Health is deemed an essential service, so their staff is continuing to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the weeks ahead, we can continue to rely on VNA Health to provide critical in-home services for their patients.
Providing medical care in the home is another element of life that has been impacted by COVID-19. In fact, those who need home health care services may also be the ones most at risk for serious illness. Their Telehealthcare services will be more valuable than ever. To read about the active steps they are taking during this time of uncertainty, visit their website.
>>Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) focuses on the special needs of diabetics and COVID.
“For more than 75 years, we have been at the forefront of caring for the diabetes community. That commitment remains our core values as, together, we work to safeguard our community during this pandemic,” noted Ellen Goodstein, SDRI’s Executive Director.
The virus is especially dangerous for those whose average blood sugar is high (above 200 mg/dl, associated with an A1c of 8.5% or higher). Because diabetes is one of the underlying conditions that can contribute to more severe health concerns with COVID-19, SDRI began their Diabetes Emergency Response Program, which provides:
- Trusted information and resources on COVID-19 and diabetes on their website
- Distribution of food through their Farming for Life program
- Active outreach to their patients, particularly those with high blood sugars
- Telemedicine services for patient visits to ensure physical distancing
- Interviews with their expert staff through TV, radio, print, and social media
- A helpline in both English and Spanish (805-350-8730).
>>Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics provides healthcare for low-income families.
To reduce the risk of infection to our healthy patients, SBNC providers are not seeing any patients with respiratory symptoms or fever until after 4:30 PM. They have been contacting their stable patients who have routine visits scheduled and postponing or converting these visits to Telehealth visits so that they have the capacity to see those in the community who need to be seen in the health care center right away.
According to Dr. Charles Fenzi, CEO of SBNC, it has partnered with other community medical leaders to make sure their clinicians are up-to-date on all the breaking information on the pandemic from local, state, and national sources. Their staff is trained in sanitizing their facilities and clinicians and their support staff has been trained in the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) and masks have been fit-tested to provide the safest level of security in the outpatient setting while adequately evaluating at-risk patients.
All medical clinics now close at 6:00 PM. Dental clinics close at 5:00 PM and are offering Emergency Only Dental Care.
To support the mandate for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have developed care for patients remotely by Telehealth, through their mobile phone, tablet, or computer. If someone is interested in this type of visit, they can call the Call Center at (844) 594-0343.
>>Let’s show our gratitude.
I invite everyone to take advantage of every opportunity to show our gratitude to all frontline medical staff and essential workers who are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic in hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential businesses.
I also hope that those who are able will contribute financially to these critical nonprofit organizations. We will emerge from this crisis intact if we work together and do our part.