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Gila Regional Medical Center's Patient Privacy and COVID-19

GRMC PATIENT PRIVACY STANDARDS
Our goal at GRMC is, and will always be, to provide exceptional, quality, patient-centered care. That includes respecting and protecting the privacy of our patients and their families. Maintaining privacy requirements while meeting the need for information related to a public health emergency is a balancing act that can at times be difficult to navigate. In alignment with other hospitals in the state, we are being very transparent with other hospitals with regards to our facility level data and with the state Department of Health to ensure we are all jointly positioned to provide timely care. Anyone seeking the most up-to-date information regarding the spread of COVID within their county, including hospitalizations and deaths, may get that information from the Department of Health website (https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html#). While most believe that HIPAA and privacy protections refer only to the release of a name, HIPAA also protects information that might be used to identify the individual. In very small and close-knit communities, personally identifiable information may be as little as gender and/or diagnosis, or a description that is unique to an individual
Our duty to our community is to provide healthcare regardless. We see all our patients as individuals, not as a diagnosis. We work to stabilize and treat many conditions other than COVID-19 and have the same standards of privacy protection for all patients–regardless of diagnosis.

HOW WE ARE KEEPING PATIENTS AND CARE PROVIDERS SAFE
COVID’s harshest impact has been on those with preexisting chronic conditions, including many of our seniors. Fear of contracting COVID in this population is very real with research showing an increase in non-COVID related deaths due to fear of contracting COVID while seeking necessary healthcare. Like influenza or any other infectious illness, we take all recommended precautions to protect our patients and our staff from exposure.
In keeping with best practices and doing all we can to reduce potential exposure of our patients and staff to COVID, we are returning to our no visitation policy implemented at the onset of COVID. In very limited situations, such as end of life care, exceptions will be made.
All persons coming into our facility, including those scheduled for a surgical procedure, will need to enter through the Emergency Department Registration entrance for screening and direction to their destination. They will be checked for temperature and COVID symptoms. All persons will be required to wear a mask when in the facility.
GRMC staff are required to wear a mask. Staff having direct patient care are required to wear a healthcare grade surgical mask while on shift. Many may opt to wear a cloth mask over the surgical mask. If you encounter a staff member who is not wearing a mask, please feel free to ask them to put one on.

GRMC SURGE PLAN FOR COVID-19
GRMC developed a Surge Plan early in the pandemic using evidence-based best practices and CDC guidelines. As those best practices and CDC guidelines have changed and been updated, our Surge plan has been adjusted to remain in line with the most current and up-to-date information available. Our surge plan is designed to allow us to respond quickly to increasing demand by flexing our staff, beds, and equipment as needed.

IN CLOSING
As COVID 19 continues to be an evolving situation with unprecedented circumstances, GRMC is committed to being fully prepared to care for our patients regardless of their health-related issues with respect for their privacy as individuals. The safety of our patients, their families, and our staff is of utmost importance to us.

The New Mexico Department of Health COVID Dashboard can be accessed at: https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html#

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