“I am humbled to be surrounded by a community of big dreamers willing to say yes, and to take on the challenge of solving new and unique problems in our community nearly every week.”
Those are accolades often shared these days by Dr. Kathryn Fiddler, Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Vice President of Population Health. Today, they are directed to Salisbury University, for yet another creative, forward-thinking, and problem-solving collaboration that has defined the SU and PRMC friendship for years.
This week, the two regional leaders in healthcare and higher education teamed up to address the growing issue of housing COVID-19 patients who still have the virus but no longer need to be in an acute-care setting, like the hospital, where essential bed availability continues to be an issue.
The solution is to transition patients to Dogwood Village, a student housing complex on the SU campus that has been reimagined and reconfigured as a setting for COVID-19 healthcare. Those who require continued isolation will safely transfer from PRMC to Dogwood Village, where they will complete their recovery for a period of up to 14 days. If necessary, space is available for approximately 100 patients.
Like inpatient care at PRMC, no visitors will be allowed. Safety and privacy for staff and patients remain a top priority. SU and PRMC hope to place the first patients into the Dogwood Village units later this week.
“At home, they may live in close quarters with others, would be interacting with older and at-risk adults, can’t self-quarantine or maybe have limited support while recuperating,” added Dr. Fiddler. “We will provide linens, telehealth physician visits, nursing care, and home health care if necessary. These are patients who could have gone home, but just can’t because of other circumstances.”
The buildings required little conversion. PRMC and SU completed a deep cleaning, ensured all safety items were working, and then fine-tuned the rooms for patients. A common area was established as a staging space for staff work and where supplies could be stored.
“I called Dr. Kelly Fiala, the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, and my partner in this plan, and we were quickly able to make this happen,” said Dr. Fiddler. “We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful university and innovative community partner, from leadership to facilities and security, all collaborating in ways we could have never dreamed just two months ago.”
“PRMC and SU have been tremendous partners in healthcare and education throughout the years,” said SU President Charles Wight. “We are proud to extend that partnership to help those in our area affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The agreement between PRMC and SU for the use of Dogwood Village will continue through the end of June, by which time both institutions hope the region has passed its initial peak of COVID-19 cases. In July, each building will undergo deep cleaning and sanitation, and mattresses in units used by patients will be replaced in anticipation of the start of SU’s fall semester.
This agreement is the latest collaborative effort between PRMC and the University. In recent weeks, SU faculty and staff have collected, constructed and donated personal protective equipment for the medical center. Graduating students from SU’s College of Health and Human Services also soon may join SU alumni already working at PRMC.
“We are all facing this virus together,” said Wight. “As medical researchers around the world continue working toward a vaccine, SU, PRMC and other community partners will continue working together to provide the care our community needs in these extraordinary times.”