COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS AND RESOURCES
Last Updated: 6/1/2020
- Hospital Preparedness and Community Collaboration
- A Letter to Our Community: Emergency Department is Open for All Medical Emergencies
- Connecting Patients and Families
- One Minute of Happy
- Emergency Department COVID-19 Surge Tent
- Visitation Limitations and Restrictions
- Covering Up to Curb the Spread
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Preventing the Spread of Illness at Home
- Ways To Be Prepared
- How You Can Help
Hospital Preparedness and Community Collaboration
St. Francis Medical Center (SFMC) has called Southeast Los Angeles its home for 75 years. We are part of this community, and we make the health and safety of our area residents and our hospital patients and staff a priority. During these unprecedented times, working together with our local cities, businesses, and community partners is crucial to preventing the spread of the coronavirus and to supporting our first responders and health care providers who are dedicated to caring for patients who need medical treatment.
St. Francis Medical Center continues to monitor the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). To ensure continuous readiness we are collaborating with our partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH), and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to stay up to date on the most current evidence-based practice guidelines.
Following CDC, LACDPH, and CDPH recommendations, SFMC took precautions early on to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, staff, and visitors. As the situation in LA County evolves, we continue to effect policies and procedures that help protect our staff and those in our care. This includes:
- Exercising social distancing within the hospital
- Continuing to practice good hand hygiene
- Using personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately
- Canceling community events scheduled at SFMC
- Transitioning meetings to conference calls whenever possible
- Implementing visitation limitations and restrictions
- Screening employees, physicians, and visitors for illness prior to entering the hospital
- Providing protocols for staff to follow when they go home to protect their family
Here is some additional information on ways we are safeguarding our patients, health care team, and community and helping to keep patients and families connected.
A Letter to Our Community: Emergency Department is Open for All Medical Emergencies
Ensuring safe access to emergency care continues to be vitally important, especially during this pandemic. The Emergency Department (ED) physicians and staff at St Francis Medical Center (SFMC) are available to serve emergency needs for all issues, both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related. Patients should not delay care when needed, especially for conditions in which early diagnosis and treatment can be lifesaving. This includes not only heart attacks and strokes, but also more common ailments such as abdominal pain and injuries.
Recent trends suggest that patients are not seeking care for emergencies, and delays in diagnosis are leading to poor outcomes. Stay-at-home orders issued by public health agencies make exceptions for those in need of emergency medical treatment.
Our ED volumes have been reduced since the pandemic began, but the incidence of emergencies has not changed. This is very concerning. We are now seeing more delayed presentations and complications of conditions that were once easily treatable if presented early. As an example, early evaluation of abdominal pain can reveal appendicitis before it ruptures, but now we are seeing more cases of rupture and sepsis due to delays.
This is likely due to many patients being afraid to go to the hospital, but they are putting themselves at great risk to avoid in-person care. Because people are not responding to warning signs - opting for a wait-and-see approach - the severity of illnesses is increasing. Delaying care for many urgent illnesses and serious injuries can significantly decrease chances of survival or have long-term consequences. Medical experts are also concerned that people may be avoiding care altogether during the “warning” incidents, such as smaller heart attacks and strokes - which, if untreated, can result in larger, more significant occurrences.
The SFMC ED has implemented multiple safety measures described below to keep patients who need care safe:
Those experiencing mild flu-like symptoms should consult with their primary care physician while taking precautions to self-isolate and limit contact with family members at home. If symptoms worsen, however – including a persistent cough and fever – we recommend visiting an emergency room as soon as possible to be evaluated.
In conclusion, if you or a loved one is experiencing a life-threatening event or a health condition that requires immediate attention, please do not hesitate to seek treatment at our Emergency Department. Please rest assured that we have the processes and policies in place to protect you, other patients, and our community. We appreciate your consideration and welcome the opportunity to deliver exceptional emergency care at our SFMC Emergency Department.
If there are any questions or clarifications as to the above, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Allen Bookatz, MD
Medical Director and Chair
Connecting Patients and Families
To help keep patients and staff safe, we have special visitor limitations and restrictions in place. However, we know how important it is for patients to have family and friends by their side when they are hospitalized. To help bridge the distance, we have iPads available in every unit so that patients can link with their loved ones virtually via Face Time and other social media platforms. We also encourage families to call and text one another.
One Minute of Happy
One of the ways we are keeping patients connected to others while visitation is limited is through “One Minute of Happy.” Each day our Patient Advocate reaches out by phone to patients in our care. Along with a cheery greeting, she offers to play a patient’s a favorite song or to read a reflection or poem. Often her calls turn into warm moments of sharing, with patients chatting about their pets, hobbies, special people in their lives, and what they are looking forward to. Making the calls from her home as she practices social distancing, our Patient Advocate says she can feel the patients’ smiles across the miles and hopes they can feel hers too. She says, “By making a genuine connection it becomes one minute of mutual happy and a brighter day for both of us.”
Emergency Department COVID-19 Surge Tent
In preparation for the anticipated increase in COVID-19 positive patients in LA County, our Emergency Department has set up a COVID-19 Surge Tent. The tent provides a dedicated patient care area that is removed from the general Emergency Department patient population and allows for us to safely triage individuals presenting with respiratory symptoms.
Our COVID-19 Surge Tent is staffed with Emergency Department personnel and clinical providers who are experienced with caring for patients with infectious diseases, and following the policies and procedures our hospital has in place, are well prepared to provide the most appropriate care while ensuring the safety of their patients and themselves.
With the establishment of our Surge Tent, St. Francis Medical Center is equipped to safely treat COVID-19 patients while remaining open and ready to provide our comprehensive range of services to residents and meet the health care needs of our community.
Visitation Limitations and Restrictions
While we understand the importance of patients having friends, family, and loved ones by their side during times of hospitalization, to help protect against the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, the following visitation limitations and restrictions are effective as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
- Patient visitation is no longer permitted and is restricted in all areas except for the following:
- Maternity patients in active labor, pediatric, trauma patients, and patients upon imminent end of life, may have one approved visitor
- The one approved visitor may be a spouse/significant other/domestic partner, parent or legal guardian, or designated decision maker
- The approved visitor must check in at one of the main entrances and will be subject to screening before entering
- The approved visitor must be age 13 years or older
- The approved visitor will be discouraged from staying with patient overnight
- The approved visitor will be discouraged from loitering in hallways and rotundas
- Patients will be encouraged to utilize technology devices and applications to communicate with friends, family, and loved ones during new visitation guidelines
We appreciate your support of our efforts to safeguard the health of your loved ones, our patients, and staff.
Covering Up to Curb the Spread
In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and in compliance with the LA County health officer order, all approved St. Francis Medical Center visitors are required to wear a face mask or face covering while inside our hospital buildings. Surgical masks, cloth masks, scarves, and bandanas are acceptable. By covering our nose and mouth, we help to protect others.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is among the family of coronaviruses that can infect humans and typically cause mild to moderate respiratory illness.
How is it spread?
It is spread from infected persons to others through droplets from coughing or sneezing, close personal contact, and touching objects or surfaces with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms in people with COVID-19 include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some seriously ill people have required hospitalization, and in some cases the illness causes death.
What should you do if you have symptoms?
Stay home and isolate from others. Current data suggests that most people will have mild symptoms. You should not go out for at least 3 days (72 hours) after you no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and your respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved, and at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
When to call the doctor or seek emergency services
Older adults, pregnant women, and people with underlying health issues or compromised immune systems should call their doctor once symptoms appear. It is always best to contact your doctor before going in for care. If you experience difficulty breathing or have trouble keeping fluids down, go to an emergency room or call 9-1-1.
Notify close contacts
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you should notify your close contacts that they need to be in quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with you. Close contacts include household members, any intimate contacts, and anyone who was within 6 feet of you for more than 10 minutes, starting 48 hours before your symptoms appeared until your isolation for symptoms/illness ends. It also includes anyone who came in contact with your bodily fluids, secretions or saliva, shared utensils with you, or provided care to you without personal protective equipment.
How to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself from the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses is by taking these steps:
Practice social distancing by keeping 6 feet apart from other people.
Stay at home unless you need to access essential services or are an essential worker.
Stay home when you are sick (including essential workers).
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or whenever hands are visibly dirty.
Use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol if you cannot wash your hands with soap and water.
Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) with unwashed hands.
Refrain from close contact (including kissing and sharing cups/utensils) with people who are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with a standard household cleaning product.
Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue and dispose of the tissue in the trash. Cough or sneeze into your elbow (not your hands) if you do not have a tissue.
Get a flu shot to prevent influenza if you have not done so already this season.
Avoid all non-essential travel.
Preventing the Spread of Illness at Home
When you come home, try not to touch anything.
After walking your pet, disinfect its paws.
Leave bag, purse, keys, etc. in a box at your home’s entrance.
Clean your phone and glasses with soap and water or alcohol.
Remove your gloves carefully, throw them away and wash your hands.
Take off your shoes.
Remove your outer clothing and put it in a laundry bag. Wash with bleach* at more than 140 degrees.
Shower if possible or wash all exposed areas well, including hands, wrists, face, neck, etc.
Before storing anything you brought outside, clean its surfaces with bleach**.
Remember that it is not possible to do a total disinfection. The objective is to reduce risk.
* Bleach may discolor items.
** Suggested bleach mixture: Add 1/3 cup of bleach to one gallon of water or 4 tsp of bleach to one quart water. Don’t forget to wear gloves.
Ways to Be Prepared
Everyone should have a health care provider. If you need help finding one, you can call St. Francis Medical Center’s Health Benefits Resource Center at (310) 900-7444.
Keep an emergency kit for you and your family that includes food and supplies for 14 days, in case you need to quarantine. It’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit for any type of emergency.
Stay up to date on the latest information about the coronavirus by regularly checking these reliable sources:
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH, County) http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/
California Department of Public Health (CDPH, State) https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/nCOV2019.aspx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, National) http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/novel-coronavirus-2019.html
World Health Organization (WHO, International) https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Visit Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s website for answers to more frequently asked questions at:
How You Can Help
Call for Donations – PPE and Face Shield Materials Needed
As with many hospitals across the country, St. Francis Medical Center is in need of personal protective equipment (PPE). We are doing our part and only using PPE when appropriate and indicated, following CDC and LACDPH recommendations. We currently have enough supplies to care for patients and protect staff from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. However, the global supply of PPE used in the treatment of virus outbreaks is not limitless and may be strained.
Here’s what we need most:
- Surgical masks (medical grade)
- Cotton fabric masks (which can be used by non-clinical staff)
- N95 masks (medical grade, not construction grade)
- Protective gowns and shoe covers
- Surgical gloves
- Face shields
- CaviWipes (hospital disinfecting wipes)
- Cavicide (hospital disinfecting spray/liquid)
To ensure that we have an adequate and consistent supply of face protection, our health care team is making its own face shields. These are the materials we need:
- Vinyl – 16 or 20 gauge marine grade vinyl (clear, not tinted)
- Foam – 1 inch by 1 inch strips (or 1 inch thick rolls)
- Fabric Elastic - 3/8 inch to ½ inch wide (greatest need)
- Double-sided tape – 1-inch industrial grade mounting tape (Gorilla, Scotch, 3M)
If you or an organization you know is able to donate any of the above PPE or face shield materials, please contact Gilda Gonzalez at St. Francis Medical Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support. We are grateful for our community.
As members this community, we all have the responsibility to protect the health and safety of one another. We can achieve this goal through our collaboration with you. Let’s continue to lift one another up. We are in this challenge together, and we will come out of it stronger for our patients, families, workers, and neighbors, and for this community that we love and call home.
If you have any questions, please call our main hospital line at (310) 900-8900.
If you need further assistance, please contact our Director of Public Safety at (310) 900-8593.
Recognizing Our Many Donors
We are very grateful for the many companies, organizations, community members, and family and friends of coworkers and colleagues who have reached out to us with offers and donations of personal protective equipment, medical supplies, services and resources for our employees and patients, volunteer services to make masks and face shields, and meals and treats for our frontline doctors, nurses, and staff. Your gifts are nourishing and uplifting us body, mind, and spirit!
We give sincere thanks to all of you for your support of our health care team and the patients in our care.
410 Medical, Inc.
Accenture – So Cal
Allied Healthcare Federal Credit Union
Apple Rx Pharmacy
Big Nick’s Pizza
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Caps for COVID
Chinese American Federation Association
Chipotle Mexican Grill
City Dental Care
Concerned Citizens of Compton
Count On Me Foundation
The Crème Shop
Hanh Nguyen Clark, MD and Sustainable Health Empowerment
Dreyer’s Ice Cream
Eide Industries, Inc.
Episource – Sishir Reddy
The Fix on Wheels and Mrs. Michelle Szeto
Get Us PPE LA
Holy Spirit Choir of St. Christopher Parish
Innovative Pest Solutions
Jack in the Box
John Hur Koos Manufacturer
KROQ Radio FM 106.7
La Luz Del Mundo Church
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara
Donald Le, Paul Knothe, Alysha Steiin-Mares
Los Angeles Chinese Musicians Ensemble Chorus
Lovers of the Holy Cross
Alex and Monica Lupian
Lynwood Unified School District
The Makeup Blowout Sale Group
Mason (Lisa Sanchez)
Molten Metal Works
Nick Alexander Imports
Operation Be Kind
Orange County Auto Repair Shop
The Original Wine Club and Dr. Eli Ayoub
Planet Health Compton
Pure CA, LLC
Rios Clementi (RCH) Studios
Rios Clementi Studios
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Scientology Volunteer Ministers of Southern California
Silvercar by Audi
Simply Help Foundation
St. John Knits and Foson Foundation
Superior Fire Protection
Tierra Mia Coffee
University of California, San Francisco, Orange County Campus
Waraynon Initiative Network
Fawn Weaver and Uncle Nearest Whiskey
World’s Finest Chocolate
Diana Zaslove and George Kahn