March 14, 2021 • Courtesy of NWI Times
Written by Matthew Doyle, president/CEO, Methodist Hospitals
The year 2020 brought the world a crisis unlike any in our lifetimes. As the COVID pandemic took hold, it devastated economies, left a tragic number of dead around the world and wreaked havoc on culture and society. Sadly, Northwest Indiana has not been exempt from the toll of COVID-19.
But disasters and crises often bring out the best in people, prompting disparate groups to come together for the common good. As a health care provider, Methodist Hospitals has been at the forefront of the pandemic. Over the last year, our doctors, nurses and staff have seen the worst effects of the virus. At the same time, we have been witness to the best of the human spirit exhibited by our Northwest Indiana friends and neighbors.
We have been profoundly moved and inspired by the support and encouragement we received over the past year.
During the first weeks and months of the pandemic, when personal protective equipment and other essentials were in short supply, we received substantial donations of N-95 masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and other vital supplies from a wide variety of local and national business partners.
When it became evident that our hospital staff was under great strain as they heroically cared for the increasing COVID patient load, our neighbors responded with donations of food and gift cards for our staff, prayer sessions on our campuses and thank-you cards and signs expressing their gratitude. Many groups and individuals sewed hundreds of cloth masks for our non-clinical staff.
We will always be thankful for the support of the people of Northwest Indiana, who have shown great generosity as they suffer the pandemic’s toll on their own lives.
As the son of a nurse, I have had a life-long respect for those who devote their lives to serving and caring for others. So, my greatest admiration has been for the Methodist Hospitals family, and the way that it has pulled together as One Methodist to fight the pandemic and to protect and heal the communities we serve.
Throughout the pandemic, our physicians and staff have worked together with dedication and expertise to innovate. They found new and better ways to treat COVID patients, and to ensure that we could provide the best possible care to both COVID and non-COVOID patients.
To accomplish that, Methodist Hospitals established dedicated COVID cohort units (that we dubbed our Co-Heart units) to ensure the most effective care for those patients. We nearly doubled the number of isolation rooms in our hospitals to accommodate the regular surges in virus infections requiring hospitalization. By the end of 2020, we had cared for more than 1,300 COVID patients.
Thanks to the selfless dedication of our Methodist Hospitals family, we opened drive-through COVID-19 testing facilities at both of our campuses within just two weeks of the onset of the pandemic in our area. Through mid-February 2021, we have conducted more than 35,000 tests at our drive-through facilities.
We found ways to help our community to safely get the health care they need by introducing new cleaning and other protocols in our hospitals and clinics. Methodist Hospitals’ new Tele-medicine service enables community members to have physician visits or CareFirst urgent care clinic visits from the safety of their own homes.
And when vaccines became available, we opened vaccination clinics at both of our campuses; by mid-February we had delivered more than 15,000 doses to employees, other area health care workers and community members eligible for the vaccine.
In some ways, the year 2020 ways seemed to fly by. In many other ways, it seemed to last forever. I will never forget the resilience and perseverance exhibited by the Methodist family as we met this challenge together.
As COVID-19 cases in Northwest Indiana now begin to decline and as the availability of the vaccines continues to expand, we have new hope for a return to a more normal society, where we are able to come together with each other once again. As we mourn those we have lost during this terrible time, we should take pride in the way our communities have come together, and have confidence that as we weather this storm, we can meet any challenge.