Texas Health leadership shares their insight on popular COVID-related topics, plus information to help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy, featuring:
Andrew Masica, M.D., MSCI, chief medical officer for Reliable Health
Shawn Parsley, D.O., president and chief operations officer, Texas Health Physicians Group
Mary Robinson, Ph.D., R.N., NEA-BC, chief nursing officer for Reliable Health
A word about…
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Robinson: Texas Health has an adequate supply of PPE for our care teams to safely care for patients. Even prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, our first priority was to secure and maintain a reliable supply of PPE such as N95 masks. This has allowed us to meet current and future needs without re-using face masks, although we have the ability to do so if the need arises.
Testing at Texas Health
Masica: To safely reopen our communities, we must have the ability to test widely so we understand the prevalence of infection and identify areas where outbreaks are rising. Availability of testing kits and supplies has been a challenge but is improving. Within our hospitals we have deployed rapid testing, which delivers fast results that help guide care decisions for symptomatic patients. Currently, we are using rapid testing on patients coming to the hospital with symptoms concerning for COVID-19, patients undergoing major procedures at the hospital, or women admitted to the hospital for childbirth. coming into our Emergency Departments and for any patient having a procedure at the hospital.
Treating COVID-19 patients
Masica: COVID-19 is a new disease, and at this point, there is no specific cure. Much of our care when treating COVID-19 patients focuses on support, and relief of treating symptoms and keeping patients comfortable. Although there is currently no cure, we continuously collect data and are reviewing the evolving evidence on COVID-19, using that information to develop treatment plans and developing protocol. Several therapies for COVID-19 are in an investigational stage.
One example of an investigational treatment we have used in several patients is on investigational therapies. In some cases, we are using convalescent plasma therapy — the transfusion of antibodies from a recovered COVID-19 patient into an acutely critically ill patient — as well as medications that show benefits in some patients. We are also participating in clinical research surrounding COVID-19, clinical trials as well as registries.
New Ways to Access Care
Parsley: Existing and new patients can now see a Texas Health Physicians Group primary care provider or specialist virtually, from the comfort of their homes using a phone, tablet or computer. We were already in the process of standing up virtual care and were pleased to be able to rapidly expedite that effort to decrease risk of exposure for patients. Our patients, and our physicians, love it! We also added new tools for patients like an app that enables quick connection to an emergency room physician if you think you might have a COVID-related symptom.
Important for your Health
Parsley: Take your medications as prescribed and follow up with your physicians as needed. The last thing we want is for your health to decline — particularly if you are managing a chronic condition — because you are worried about going to the office. There are many tools and options available to get the care you need.
Masica: Keep up social distancing, practice good and hand hygiene, and stay informed. Don’t ignore symptoms, and contact medical providers with concerns about your health. As far as another way you can help others during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider donating blood, especially if you have recovered from COVID-19. Your plasma could make the difference for someone in our community.
Robinson: It’s safe to seek care, especially if you are having a serious medical event. People should not hesitate to go to the ER or call 911 if they’re having what they think is an emergency. ERs have the supplies, staff and training to care for people and do it safely during this pandemic. Our community has been so generous in caring for us, from donations of food to prayer events and notes of encouragement. We want you to know that when you need us, we are ready to care for you!