Valley Baptist continues COVID-Safety standards as state reopens

Under the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas has started to strategically restart and revitalize all aspects of the state to include work, school, entertainment and culture in designated phases starting May 18, May 22 and May 31.

As the State of Texas continues to open, Valley Baptist Health System is laser focused on efforts to ensure that local residents continue to have access to high-quality healthcare in the safest environment.

These efforts, which have been labeled as “COVID SAFETY” standards, are built upon deep clinical expertise and ongoing management of COVID-19, as well as continuous incorporation of CDC, CMS, and state recommendations, said Dr. Christopher Romero, internal medicine specialist and physician adviser at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen.

“We fully recognize that our community continues to have reservations with coming to the hospital for needed emergency and elective services during this time; however, since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic, our hospitals have put in significant control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and people should feel confident seeking the medical care they need, even during these extraordinary times,” he said.“We are taking patient safety extremely seriously. Daily we care for patients that have conditions that make them susceptible for COVID-19 — we are able to accomplish this by putting in place very strict infection control measures throughout our hospitals.”

Such measures are a strictcombination of infection prevention processes, training, testing, personal protective equipment, technology, and a wealth of previous experience and knowledge gained through dealing with other infectious diseases such as influenza/flu.

COVID SAFETY standards include the following components:

  • Distinct COVID Care Zones – separate and isolated areas of the hospital for the treatment of positive or suspected COVID patients
  • Strict physician and staff protocols – daily screening, universal masking, and access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Heightened sanitization – enhanced cleaning of all surfaces and plenty of hand sanitization stations
  • Access to in-house COVID-19 testing – testing for patients, physicians, and staff who require it
  • Precautions for patients and approved visitors – provision of face masks, hand sanitizer, and physical distancing
  • Enhanced virtual access – virtual care, remote monitoring, as well as connectivity with loved ones
  • Enhanced signage – informational signage installed throughout the hospital offering visitors reminders and tips on social distancing, hand washing, and the use of face coverings

As a result of the successful implementation of Valley Baptist Health System’s COVID SAFETY standards, current visitation policies have now been loosened to allow one designated visitor to accompany each patient undergoing a procedure or surgery.Additionally, current visitation policies continue to allow one designated visitor to accompany any pediatric patient, any laboring mother, and any critical patient receiving end-of-life care. Valley Baptist Health System is also closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and strongly considering further loosening of visitation within the next few weeks as its COVID SAFETY standards continue to show positive results.

All approved visitors will continue to be screened for fever, respiratory symptoms, or travel to high risk locations prior to entering the hospital, and are required to wear visitor identification, a face mask, sanitize their hands, and observe appropriate social distancing.

Any visitor not meeting screening criteria will not be permitted to enter the hospital. All staff, physicians, patients, and visitors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the hospital.

Valley Baptist Health System’s COVID SAFETY standards will offer peace of mind to patients and their loved ones receiving care. Expanded visitation comes shortly after Valley Baptist Health System resumed elective care with extensive safety measures in place.

“Our COVID SAFETY standards were developed with key clinical principles in mind to maximize safety for all patients and visitors,” said Valley Baptist Health System Chief Executive Officer Manny Vela.

Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville CEO Leslie Bingham said Valley Baptist’s COVID SAFETY standards should be a signal to the community that the hospitals are ready and prepared to provide the same safe, high-quality healthcare they have for more than 90 years.

“These standards will help patients confidently seek care at our hospitals and allow our community to be less worried for loved ones. We are providing the reassurance that our patients, staff, and their families deserve. I am proud of the work of our team to quickly implement these additional standards while continuously providing care for patients in the safest environment possible.”