There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has challenged health care professionals in new and unprecedented ways. “But the difficulties presented by the pandemic have also brought into stark relief the incredible strengths of this institution and all it embodies,” says Lynne Young, M.B.A., director of clinical operations at the Wilmer Eye Institute.
As an example, Young cites the ingenuity and problem-solving skills the staff has demonstrated in recent months: One employee took the initiative to become certified in fit testing staff members for N95 respirators and subsequently outfitted dozens of doctors and technicians with the personal protective equipment. Another engineered and installed Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control approved breath barriers on slit lamps. Others independently offered to transport supplies and equipment from Wilmer’s East Baltimore location to its satellite clinics to ensure that they also had adequate supplies.
As Wilmer reopened its ambulatory surgery centers and clinics in June, the health and well-being of patients and staff members remained the top priority. Evidence-based safety protocols guided the implementation of best practices for patient and employee safety. These practices include but are not limited to scheduling patient visits further apart, installing Plexiglas barriers in reception areas, stocking sufficient protective supplies and reducing patient wait times. Staff members are performing preliminary screenings of patients by telephone to limit the time patients are in the clinic. Strict cleaning and disinfection procedures are carefully followed. “When we look back on this time —and eventually, we will — I hope that what we will remember most is our dedication to caring for our patients and for each other,” says Young.