Baptist Health Lexington’s response to the pandemic
By James Borders, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Baptist Health Lexington
One of the earliest challenges Baptist addressed was the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply shortage, forcing some creative strategies to meet that need. Baptist system engaged our nine system hospitals to wrestle with the potential ethical challenges of ventilator rationing. The protocols developed were never deployed, but the process remains in place to form a framework for use in a future pandemic.
Baptist worked to provide COVID-19 PCR testing for seriously ill patients requiring admission who were assigned to negative pressure segregated telemetry floor beds or ICU’s. Others presenting to our emergency department who did not meet admission criteria were sent home with oxygen monitoring and contingency plans for admission if their clinical picture deteriorated.
For several months, elective procedures were placed on hold and, when resumed, pre-procedural COVID-19 PCR testing was provided, a practice that continues to the present time.
Our infectious disease specialists were engaged to continually educate other physicians and all hospital staff about the coronavirus. They, alongside our hospitalist service and critical care personnel, have remained on the front lines to coordinate and implement treatment directed by the latest research. They were actively involved in researching the Johnson and Johnson Covid vaccine and were the top nation-wide enrollers for vaccine research study participation.
Baptist Lexington was the first facility in the state to treat seriously ill Covid patients with convalescent plasma donated through the Kentucky Blood Center. We have recently added monoclonal antibody infusions to our COVID treatment armamentarium in an effort to prevent illness progression to the point of requiring hospitalization.
Current hospitalization numbers are approximately a third in volume from the peak experienced in November and early December. While inpatient and outpatient treatment continues, a major focus has been placed upon vaccination. Baptist Lexington, being one of 11 hospitals equipped with the ultra-cold freezers initially required for the Pfizer vaccine, became an early resource for the vaccine. We have developed a vaccination site at the Lexington Green to provide Covid vaccinations. All hospital personnel have been encouraged to receive vaccination and continue with the masking, social distancing, and PPE use while on campus. Visitation to our facility remains restricted with all visitors to our campus undergoing screening upon entry. We will follow state and other public health direction in lifting visitation restrictions as allowed.