Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020 - 25

Social distancing measures
Access to admissions building
The main entrance to the admissions building was locked and
employee identification badges were programmed electronically
to allow access by staff members. Visitors and patients' family
members were required to wait outside the building and have staff
members meet with them outside the building.
Modified dining arrangements
In order to allow for adequate social distancing (maintenance
of six feet distance when interacting with others), the furniture in
the main cafeteria was rearranged. Employees were able to continue
purchasing meals from the cafeteria, but not to eat inside, so
that patients could maintain adequate physical distancing during
mealtimes. Self-service stations (the salad bar and fountain drinks)
were discontinued, and the salad bar was replaced with prepackaged
salads. To avoid potential cross contamination, individually packed
sets of plastic utensils were made available.
Mandated use of personal protective equipment
Patient-facing staff were required to wear personal protective
equipment when in close contact with patients. For non-patient
facing staff required to be on campus, face masks were required
while interacting with other staff members. Patients were also
strongly encouraged to wear face masks.

Recruitment of staff
Recruitment for new positions continued and interviews were
conducted remotely, while shadowing programs were suspended.
Prior to their start dates, new hires were asked relevant questions
about symptoms, travel and close contacts.

SUMMARY
Key factors in determining a successful response include a
multidisciplinary approach, open lines of communication and
excellent relationships with our colleagues at Tower Health Reading
Hospital and HNL labs. Results of COVID-19 lab tests were made
available within 12- 24 hours, and this short turnaround time
greatly facilitated patient care. Regular communication occurred
between leadership, staff and patients via email, podcasts and
virtual town hall meetings during which concerns were addressed
and questions answered.
Towards the end of May 2020, as restrictions were being
gradually lifted, further modifications were made to the policies
and plans were developed to facilitate the transition of non-patient
facing staff from working remotely to working on campus.
A proactive, team- based approach has thus far enabled us to
avoid community spread of this potentially devastating disease
while maintaining an open - door policy for our patients. Our
experience with the COVID-19 outbreak has positioned us to be
prepared for future unforeseen events, and we remain committed to
providing the highest quality of care to our patients.
Table 1

Large group gatherings
Large group gatherings for patients were initially suspended.
Eventually, when it was determined that Caron's Chit Chat
auditorium would allow for adequate social distancing, patient
lectures resumed in this facility with strict instructions on how
patients were to be seated.

Visitation and travel
Once travel restrictions were in place, no visitors were allowed
on campus and off-campus activities for patients were suspended.
All non-critical business travel was suspended. Employees who had
traveled to other countries, states or regions in the US impacted by
COVID-19 in the previous two weeks were to self-quarantine for
14 days upon return, according to CDC guidelines. They were also
required to consult with their human resources representative prior
to returning to work. Employees with household members who had
traveled to countries impacted by COVID-19 were also required to
self-report this information to the human resources department.

Fitness Center restrictions
The fitness center schedule for patients was restructured to limit
the number of people in the building at any given time and all
contact sports discontinued. Equipment was rearranged to allow
for social distancing. The entire facility was cleaned multiple times
a day with all fitness equipment sanitized before and after each
scheduled gym period. Staff fitness hours were limited to 12:15 -
1:55 pm on Monday through Friday.

US

Cases
March
May
15,219
1,662,414

PA
4964
	
Berks
13
County

Deaths
March
May
201
98,261

68,637

2

5152

3,919

0

296

Number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, in the US, Pennsylvania and Berks
County, showing escalation between March and May 2020
Sources: March 2020 statistics (as reported in Spring 2020 issue of Medical
Record)
United States - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Pennsylvania - PA Department of Health
May 2020 statistics - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
References
1. Powell, D. The next pandemic is here. Berks County Medical Society Medical Record,
Spring 2020
2. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.
html. Accessed 5/27/2020
3. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC website). https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/
volumes/69/wr/mm6911a4.htm?s_cid=mm6911a4_w. Accessed 5/27/2020
4. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) website. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/
files/2018-10/Opioid%20threat%20in%20Pennsylvania%20FINAL.pdf. Accessed
5/27/2020
5. American Medical Association (AMA) Advocacy Resource Center. https://www.amaassn.org/system/files/2020-05/issue-brief-increases-in-opioid-related-overdose.pdf. Accessed
5/27/2020
6. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/return-to-work.html.
Accessed 5/27/2020

SUMMER 2020

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020

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