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Despite the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the McLeod Health Dillon Hospitalist Team resolved to maintain the highest standard of care for their most vulnerable and critical patients.
Hospitalists are physicians who care for patients throughout their hospital stay, from admission to discharge.
“In March 2020, we admitted the first of many patients with COVID-19,” said Dr. Nicholas Wallace, Hospitalist and Vice Chief of Staff at McLeod Health Dillon. “This was like nothing we had seen before. In addition to seeing a higher volume of patients, we also treated more severe illness from both COVID-19 and other conditions.”
This stemmed from many individuals delaying care -- seeing their healthcare provider or going to the Emergency Department -- despite suffering severe symptoms such as those associated with heart attack or stroke for fear that they may contract COVID.
In the midst of uncertainty and misconceptions, the medical team at McLeod Health Dillon remained committed to learning all they could about the diseases in an effort to give their patients the utmost care.
As the number of COVID positive cases increased throughout the community, McLeod Health Dillon, along with other hospitals in the McLeod Health system, restricted visitation.
“While restricting visitation was a difficult decision, it was the best way to protect our patients and staff,” explained Joan Ervin, CEO of McLeod Health Dillon.
As a result, staff members became more than caregivers, but a support team as well.
Candice Tyler, a Patient Representative at McLeod Health Dillon, was involved in the support team from the beginning. Each day, Candice rounded with patients, spoke to their family members and coordinated virtual visits with their loved ones.
“Being in the hospital alone was frightening for some of our patients,” said Candice. “However, bringing them face-to-face with their loved ones through a virtual visit was incredibly meaningful. It immediately put patients at ease and brought smiles to their faces.”
In addition to these virtual visits, McLeod Health Dillon utilized telehealth services throughout the pandemic.
“With the respiratory issues that can be associated with COVID, we developed an even greater need for certain specialties like Pulmonology,” said Dr. Wallace. “Through telehealth capabilities, we connected patients directly with Pulmonologists within the McLeod Health system from their hospital room.”
As part of an entire hospital system, McLeod Health Dillon has access to specialized services that otherwise may not be available in rural areas.
Sylvia Vance and her husband Charlie recognized firsthand the advantage of McLeod Health Dillon and the range of quality services provided when Sylvia learned she would need surgery during the pandemic.
Sylvia suffered a stroke nearly 10 years ago. Partially confined to a wheelchair, Sylvia also endured bouts with severe ulcerative colitis which greatly impacted her quality of life.
Travel was nearly impossible, and visits with her grandchildren were limited.
In March, after delaying care due to the pandemic, Sylvia underwent a colonoscopy.
Careful review of her results indicated she would need surgery. She and Charlie consulted with Dr. Joseph Dougherty of McLeod General Surgery, who recommended a total colectomy, or complete removal of the colon.
“We knew this was a major surgery, but we were confident in the surgeon and the care that we would receive at McLeod Health Dillon,” said Charlie. “We preferred staying local because we knew that this hospital would provide the complete care we needed.”
After a complex seven-hour surgery, Sylvia spent several weeks recovering at McLeod Health Dillon, receiving care in both the Intensive Care Unit and on the Medical/Surgical floor.
“My experience at McLeod Health Dillon was excellent,” recalled Sylvia. “My doctor and nurses were compassionate and kept us informed during my entire stay.”
“We are blessed to have this level of care in Dillon,” said Charlie. “There really is no need to travel for services when we have everything we need right here.”