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A Letter from Our President & CEO
Moving Forward: A Hospital Within a Hospital
We hope you and your family are in good health. We have all been through a lot these last few months and are all looking forward to resuming more normal routines. While many things have changed, one thing remains constant: TBHC’s commitment to Keeping Brooklyn Healthy
Our healthcare workers have heroically fought on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle, and we remain here for those who continue to come in with COVID. But we also need to return to providing care for those patients getting a knee replaced, seeking relief for a painful spine debilitation, or considering life-preserving weight-loss surgery. We serve our community’s healthcare needs in a myriad of ways. As COVID-19 remains in the community until a vaccine is created, we know you have a multitude of questions about how TBHC will continue to deliver safe, effective and compassionate care. Let’s tackle those questions here:
What do you mean by a hospital within a hospital?
As soon as it is allowed by the State of New York, TBHC will phase in elective surgeries and procedures. Because TBHC continues to manage COVID-19 patients, the hospital has created a “COVID-safe” environment by organizing the hospital into separate areas with distinct access points, designated waiting areas, staff, nursing units and equipment. We will be effectively treating the needs of both sets of patients in separate and safe models of care.
When is the hospital transitioning to this new model?
TBHC is already performing a number of urgent and emergency surgeries and procedures following best practices around COVID screening and safety protocols. Full capacity for elective surgeries and procedures is anticipated for the near future.
How will the Emergency Room handle COVID safely?
The Emergency Room will safely handle both COVID-19 and non-COVID cases in the following ways:
- Everyone, staff and patients alike, must wear masks. If you do not have one, you will be provided with one.
- When you arrive, you will be screened for possible COVID-19 or other contagious illness.
- If it is determined your condition is not related to a contagious illness:
- You will be directed to our waiting area, which will only allow patients with non-contagious illness. There, you will be asked to observe social distancing according to marks on the floor or staff direction.
- You will be treated in a safe and separate treatment area for all your emergencies not related to a contagious illness. We have and will maintain this safe zone at all times, even during a crisis.
- If it is suspected you have a contagious illness, you will immediately be taken to a safe and separate evaluation-treatment area.
- We also have a safe, separate evaluation and treatment areas for pediatric emergencies with its own separate entrance.
- Further note that all staff will at all times wear masks and gloves and frequently wash their hands. Staff who register you will be behind a plexiglass shield to keep all safe and protected.
- Only one caregiver is allowed with a patient. Caregivers will also be screened. To protect everyone’s safety, visitors will be limited and authorized on a case-by-case basis, depending on the emergency.
Who will be screened and tested for COVID-19?
- As a precaution, all patients and visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at all access points to the hospital and ambulatory sites.
- As of April 24, all admitted patients are tested for COVID-19.
- TBHC has initiated antibody testing for all front-line employees.
- Telemedicine visits are available for patients, as well as COVID-19 screening.
Have you cleaned the hospital well?
Every room and public area in the hospital is cleaned and disinfected daily following a rigorous infection protocol. Patient, procedure and operating rooms are intensively cleaned and disinfected to the highest levels. The walls and floors are disinfected, and everything is stripped from the room. The crew sweeps through on a clockwise rotation to make sure nothing is missed. As a final layer of protection, each room is misted with a deep-cleaning chemical to kill any remaining virus.
When are the TBHC ambulatory sites opening?
- Ambulatory sites are now open with modifications to ensure your safety.
- Appointments are being scheduled to assure that a safe number of patients are allowed in the waiting room at any one time and that social distancing can be maintained at all times by both patients and staff. Masks are required to be worn by all patients and those accompanying patients at the visit. All staff are wearing masks, as well.
- Only one parent or caregiver is allowed with a patient, including one for an elderly or handicapped patient, and one to accompany a pregnant woman during prenatal visits.
- Patient exam rooms will be closely monitored throughout the day and disinfected as needed. The waiting areas and common areas will be cleaned and disinfected periodically during the day and each evening.
What further assurances are there for non-COVID-19 patients who require elective surgeries or procedures at TBHC?
- All staff working in pre-surgical testing and perioperative areas are being screened and tested for COVID antibodies.
- All patients will be provided with an appropriate mask if they do not have one at their appointment.
- There will be separate PACU (recovery) and nursing units for COVID-19 versus non-COVID patients
- TBHC has adequate and separate ICU capacity and staff for both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients.
- All patients will be tested for COVID-19 48 hours before surgery/procedure.
- If positive and symptomatic, the procedure will be rescheduled.
- If positive and non-symptomatic, TBHC will proceed with the case.
Stay safe and be well,
Gary G. Terrinoni
President and CEO
The Brooklyn Hospital Center
UPDATE — May 4, 2020:
Effective, May 4, the COVID-19 screening tent outside the emergency room will close. If you want to learn more about your risk for COVID-19 or have questions about testing, please call the Community Hotline at 718-250-8199.
UPDATE — APRIL 15, 2020:
TBHC Blood Bank is seeking plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19. Anyone who has had COVID-19 may qualify to donate blood and participate in TBHC's "convalescent plasma" program for treatment of patients who are currently very ill. Those who have already had the infection usually have high quantities of antibodies in their blood, which are potentially a powerful weapon against the disease. To qualify, you must have had a positive test AND be asymptomatic for at least 14 days. You do not have to have a negative test to prove you have cleared the virus. Convalescent Plasma COVID-19 Donor Request Form. On the referral form, where they ask what organization referred you, please choose “OTHER” and type TBHC or The Brooklyn Hospital Center.
About the Coronavirus Community Hotline: 718-250-8199
A telemedicine community hotline has been put in place. If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, you can now be pre-screened on the phone. Call us at 718-250-8199 from 9 am to 6 pm daily.
About updated visiting hours and access to the hospital
Change in hours of visitation and visitor restriction (as of March 20, 2020)
By order of the New York State Department of Health,
ALL HOSPITALS MUST SUSPEND VISITATION
The Brooklyn Hospital Center may grant a few exceptions to an individual patient visitor for the following:
- One (1) visitor who is essential to care of the patient and/or medically necessary
- Imminent end-of-life situation
- Caregiver for a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patient
- Caregiver for a Pediatric patient (15 years and younger)
- Supporting partner in Labor and Delivery
WHEN ALLOWED, VISITORS MUST:
Be screened for symptoms and potential exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding
In addition to the new visiting hours, please note that we are only leaving three entryways to the hospital open:
- The main lobby on 121 DeKalb Avenue
- The Maynard building lobby at 240 Willoughby Street
- The ED entrance
All incoming visitors and patients will be screened at these three entry points.
Patients who have appointments at the on-site facilities in the main hospital (Ambulatory Care Center, Women's Health Center, Children's Health Center, PATH, dental) are to continue on to their respective destinations via the main 121 DeKalb door. Maynard patients are to only access that building through the 240 Willoughby Street entrance and are to remain in the Maynard building. Note: The bridge between the main hospital and Maynard will be CLOSED.
Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
where New Yorkers with questions about the virus can speak with public health experts in their preferred language.
New Yorkers can also text COVID to 692-692 to get regular updates on the latest developments.