Health-care institution keeps serving in an area hard hit by the pandemic.
When employees at the Southeast Hospital, an Adventist health-care institution in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico, began testing positive for COVID-19, management had to tighten operational procedures to flatten the curve and somehow continue to provide non-COVID medical care to a community hit hard by the pandemic.
“Our state of Tabasco kept moving between the fifth and third places at the national level with the number of positive cases of COVID-19, and for us, it meant 23 percent of our staff were affected,” hospital administrator Alexis Pérez said.
Rise of COVID-19 Cases
As of September 15, 2020, more than 28,800 positive cases and 2,620 deaths have been reported in Tabasco.
Forty-eight employees, including Perez and Robert González, the financial director of the hospital, had to be quarantined for three weeks or more between early April and August, according to Pérez. “Our hospital had never faced such a challenge, where we had to move fast to protect all employees and patients coming in,” Pérez said.
The hospital, classified as a facility that does not treat COVID-19 cases, has a triage area to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. Patients with such symptoms are sent home to rest or directed to one of the appropriate medical centers for treatment.
Something had to be done to protect the dozens of hospital staff while regular visits and surgeries decreased in the months of lockdown that began in April. New patients sent by overwhelmed hospitals began to seek regular medical services at the Southeast Hospital, needing additional coordination, Pérez said.
Studying the Reasons and Moving Ahead
“We sat down to document and analyze the positive cases in our hospital. We concluded that many of the infections took place outside the institution, in the general activities with friends or family members,” Pérez explained. The hospital moved into increased preventive measures, including the washing of hands, sanitizing areas, and the correct use of personal protective gear for each hospital department.