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Salina Regional Health Center responds to the COVID-19 pandemic

By John Berggren

With incredible support from the community, Salina Regional Health Center mobilized its resources early on in the COVID-19 pandemic to navigate a way through these unparalleled times.

Many of the health system's practices were altered—sometimes multiple times within the same week—to respond to the latest information as it became available.

Employees lead the way

"As this began to unfold, there was a lot of anxiety and fear, but our employees at every level helped develop and implement the right safeguards that allowed us to continue to provide a high quality of care for patients across this region," says Rob Freelove, senior vice president/chief medical officer at Salina Regional Health Center.

At its foundation, working in the health care field is truly a calling, with humanitarian roots that nurture a desire to help others by making a difference in the lives of patients and families.

"It's not just nurses and providers who've responded to this calling," Freelove says. "It's the environmental services workers, food workers and every member of the health care team that's responded. Sometimes a crisis reminds you why you do what you're doing, and I think that's true of this one."

Staying strong

While the state's stay-at-home orders were in force in the spring, many elective office visits, tests and procedures were rescheduled to eliminate the perceived risks for transmission of the disease. That had dire economic impacts that caused a number of health systems across the region and nation to furlough or lay off workers.

Salina Regional was able to persevere without these drastic measures and even kept hiring talent. As reopening occurred this summer and access to health services was restored, revenues began to improve, but it will take time to recover.

"Our historical leadership from a governing board and administrative staff has put us in a position that allows us to continue to look out long-term in years, as opposed to months," says Joel Phelps, president/chief executive officer at Salina Regional. "We're really thankful to be in the position we're in, and in spite of all the uncertainty of the virus, we're focused on recruiting and retaining the people we need to provide skilled care for our patients around the region.

"Our people have faced a lot of uncertainty on many levels—even the personal risks they take facing this virus," Phelps says. "It's an honor to work with people like this, especially in light of the fact that there's been no finish line identified for this pandemic."

Categories: COVID-19, Community update