I am writing to share with you—our friends, families and supporters—how Children’s Hospital & Medical Center has been proactively planning for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this unprecedented time, we hold steadfast to our mission—To improve the life of every child—and to our commitment of serving our community. Our top priority is the safety and health of our patients, families, staff and fellow community members, and I want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community we care about so deeply.
Providing Safe, Quality Care
Before there were any confirmed cases in the United States, Children’s anticipated the potential for an outbreak, and, in January, activated its Incident Command team to support advanced planning and coordination. This month, our Incident Command team has been meeting virtually around the clock. Meanwhile, our highly trained pediatric physicians, providers, nurses and staff have been planning for increased COVID-19 in our community, while still protecting and providing the essential care that our patients need.
Over the past several weeks, we have offered specialized education to our team, implemented increasingly strict protocols for health and hygiene and coordinated essential supplies so we would be ready to continue to serve the smallest and sickest in our community. We have implemented detailed screening processes—in person, over the phone and via virtual care—to ensure patients and families are getting the right care at the right time in the right place. This week, with extensive input from our physicians and community partners, we decided to cancel—and later reschedule—upcoming non-urgent surgeries.
This pandemic is evolving rapidly, and every step of the way we are being guided by the latest science and knowledge about COVID-19 and its transmission. At the same time, our team is in close, daily collaboration with local, state and federal public health agencies and health care partners in our state and nationwide; we must work together to control this pandemic and keep one another safe.
Supporting the health of our community
Like millions across our country, we are taking proactive, protective measures to “flatten the curve.” If you are not familiar with that phrase yet, it refers to the power of social distancing to control the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming health care resources. While we have many frontline workers responsible for direct patient care, we are supporting remote work options as much as possible; hundreds of Children’s employees have been working remotely this week to help us flatten the curve. We’re utilizing virtual meetings to avoid large group gatherings. We have also had to tighten visitor restrictions at all Children’s facilities—a difficult, but necessary, decision made for the ultimate good of the children we serve.
In the spirit of transparency, we also want you to know that we are analyzing potential scenarios that would cause our resources to be strained—whether because our staffing is limited or because demand for care is so high. As we plan ahead, we anticipate some scenarios would require us to prioritize clinical activities in order to sustain and maintain Children’s ability to provide critical care without interruption. We are perpetually planning to be prepared for the “if” and the “when”—so we can continue fulfilling our mission and our commitment to our community. Thoughtful, proactive planning has served us well at Children’s—in all seasons—and this season is no different.
As this pandemic evolves and as decisions are made in response, we are committed to communicating accurate, up-to-date information with our patients, families, providers, staff and community. Please visit ChildrensOmaha.org/COVID, the dedicated page on our website for COVID-19 updates, frequently asked questions and resources. We are also posting helpful , practical COVID-19-related content on our social media channels.
A Heartfelt Thank You
On behalf of all of us at Children’s, thank you for your support and dedication to our mission. The children and families of this region need us as much as ever; our community is counting on our pediatric health care expertise and highly skilled team. Children’s hospitals like ours are valuable assets and community treasures, and that is especially clear right now. Thank you for standing with your area children’s hospital during this challenging time. We are strong, we care deeply and, with all of us pulling together, I am confident that Children’s is ready to support our greater community through this pandemic.