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What the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Means for Your Healthcare

What the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Means for Your Healthcare

What the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Means for Your Healthcare

It's been over three years since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic due to the novel coronavirus. The Biden administration announced that the COVID public health emergency was called to an end on May 11th, 2023. This is a major milestone in our fight against this virus, but it doesn't mean that we can let our guard down just yet.

For a look at what the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency means for our healthcare organization, we talked with Cara Cruz, Director of Risk and Quality at Carson Valley Health (CVH).

According to Ms. Cruz, the biggest change is felt on the patient care side because now providers are able to focus on a variety of patients in the community versus treating the COVID-19 wave of patients we experienced during the pandemic.

Patients are coming into clinics, urgent care, emergency room, and being admitted with what we experienced pre-pandemic, now with some COVID-19 patients. It’s not a huge change from where we were before, but Ms. Cruz describes it as, “we continue to see patients with influenza during Influenza season, and in addition COVID-19 comes in the same wave now.”

“The positive change at the top of my list is how hand hygiene has really improved both inside and outside of healthcare,” said Ms. Cruz. “Not a lot of attention and education was put on hand hygiene and disinfecting surfaces before this, but the focus has shifted and now we see people following good hand hygiene practices for the world in general.”

When Ms. Cruz was thinking about what the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency means for CVH, she thought back to when it first started. “At the point in 2020 when COVID-19 initially hit our community, telehealth was a small piece of the healthcare system and it got pushed to sink or swim - and it swam. It provided a remote, more convenient and safe way to connect with providers. This resource has improved healthcare in general and creates a solution to a problem involving the inability for some patients to physically come to one of our locations,” said Ms. Cruz.

In general, COVID-19 embraced and allowed telehealth services to flourish by promoting better access to healthcare.

People who are challenged with physical conditions, transportation, or struggle with mobility are now able to have healthcare brought to them. “With a remote option now available, healthcare improved for people who felt embarrassed to seek help – especially for mental and behavioral health services. In some cases, a patient can have an appointment with one of our health professionals in the comfort and privacy of their own home,” said Ms. Cruz. The strain and stress of the pandemic has dramatically increased behavioral health disorders; especially with children, so access to behavioral health services is critical. We are extremely fortunate to have our Outpatient Behavioral Health Services for our community; a luxury that most rural areas don’t have.

On the same note of remote access, Ms. Cruz mentioned how CVH saw remote capabilities being used during the pandemic and what could be done from home with the workforce. Several areas in healthcare still require an in-person environment, of course, but the shutdowns in combination with advanced technology have pushed open doors for a lot of opportunities to change things to be done differently than before.

“At CVH, and healthcare in general, emergency preparedness teams prepare for and practice scenarios on ‘how to operate in a pandemic surge’ through collaborative exercises. This time it happened as a real-life scenario and through the last few years we learned how to adjust, change processes/procedures, and continue to safely care for people in our community. The lessons learned have made our response and ability to adapt much stronger and better for the future,” said Ms. Cruz.

The public may or may not be aware of the drastic effects the pandemic had on healthcare professionals. Staffing challenges were greatly exacerbated. Many healthcare professionals left the field all together by means of early retirement or career change. CVH, along with others, are still working to replenish the workforce. “During the public health emergency, burnout and what we call ‘moral injury’ for healthcare professionals occurred while experiencing a higher patient acuity, with less staff, while trying to maintain their own mental health and physical wellness,” said Ms. Cruz. I want our community to know that we are still very much fighting the effects of the pandemic, and it’s not over for us. COVID-19 will likely now be something we will always treat with our patients, like influenza.”

At Carson Valley Health, we are continually committed to providing exceptional medical care and ensuring our patients' safety.

Coronavirus Over the Years

There have been over 100 million cases of diagnosed coronavirus in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. While these numbers are staggering, they also show us how far we've come in terms of fighting this virus. Vaccines are now widely available across the country and more people than ever before have received them.

At Carson Valley Health, we understand how important it is to stay safe and continue taking preventative measures against COVID-19. We offer a wide range of services including vaccinations and diagnostic testing. It's essential that individuals continue receiving regular checkups and vaccinations even now that the public health emergency is over. In addition to keeping, you safe from the coronavirus, staying up to date on your immunizations can help protect you from other illnesses like influenza or measles.

Carson Valley Health Is Here for You

Although the past few years of the pandemic have been a challenging time for everyone, there is hope on the horizon. With vaccines becoming more widely available and cases declining overall, we are gradually returning to a more pre-pandemic state of normalcy. Here at Carson Valley Health, we remain committed to providing top-notch medical care for our patients while keeping their safety our number one priority.

To consult with a medical professional on staff, schedule an appointment with us today. Contact us at (775) 782-1500 to begin.