COVID-19’s effect on the medical field, first responders are hopeful for positive permanent changes

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INDIANAPOLIS — Without a doubt, the pandemic has changed our lives as we know them. Those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 find hope in the way they believe healthcare is changing for the better.

At IU Health, Dr. Michele Saysana, Vice President of Safety, Quality & Patient Improvement, said they noticed patients and physicians accepting telehealth or virtual visits. Before the pandemic, Saysana said it was not taking off as expected.

“Understanding they both can do it and it doesn’t work for everything but it works for probably way more than we thought it did,” Saysana said. “So, that’s been I think phenomenal.”

Saysana said the Hospital at Home Program initially helped some COVID19 patients safely recover at home, and the program has now expanded to some other diagnoses.

“Again, the pandemic helped accelerate that because we needed to be able to do that for patients to be able to have capacity in our hospitals,” Saysana explained.

Saysana said she is proud of the teamwork among her co-workers at IU Health as well as health systems around the state.

“Just incredible teams of people coming together saying, ‘how can we do this differently to help our communities, our hospitals, all of us,'” Saysana said.

Carmel Fire’s Public Information Officer Tim Griffin explained how this pandemic relates to the tragedy of 9/11.

“Just the same way that a tragic event like 9/11 advanced fire tactics, this pandemic is helping advance EMS,” Griffin said. “It’s going to make us safer and our citizens safer.”

Fortunately, Carmel Fire’s Emergency Medical Services team ordered enough personal protective equipment early in the year to create a “strategic stockpile” which last them through 2021. This gives firefighters and paramedics several choices for protective masks.

Griffin said the pandemic changed how they will respond to some patients even after this is all over.

“Will we always wear masks on EMS runs?” Griffin said. “Hopefully no, but will we always wear masks and place masks on those patients that meet certain criteria, respiratory issues, airborne issues, are we going to do those things? Yes. We have ways that we now are sanitizing those that are far better than we were doing before. That’s going to be ways that we can minimize spread of any diseases that we could get in the back of ambulances or on an EMS run.”

Carmel Fire also acquired new protective suits which allow them to quickly sanitize after a run.

“What’s nice about this is these can be sprayed right off after a run,” Griffin said while showing off the suits. “If we come in or out after an EMS run, we can literally sanitize each other right there outside the house.”

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