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Published on March 23, 2020

A message to the community - Michael Lauf, President and CEO, Cape Cod Healthcare

Michael Lauf, President & CEO

The world, our nation and our community are experiencing an extraordinary time, and we, Cape Cod’s safety net health system, are at the epicenter of this disease outbreak in our region. We know you, our fellow citizens, are turning to us for help, for information and for encouragement that we can and will get through this in the safest and healthiest way possible.

Our healthcare providers and support staff are demonstrating daily the best of our profession by putting themselves on the front line of care. I am humbled by their incredible response to this crisis and have assured them that we are taking every measure to keep them and our patients safe. They are setting the right tone, and, by their actions, lives will be saved.

We have planned and drilled for such an event as this and have many processes already in place to respond in the right way. However, this is a rapidly evolving situation and we are working diligently to update and initiate the best, safest operational systems for our patients and staff. It’s a monumental task, but we will rise to the occasion in order to protect and treat our patients, employees and other front-line caregivers in our community.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions, and we are responding in all the ways we believe are appropriate. We are following the guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we are updating our procedures on a regular basis, based on new advisories from the CDC.

In the coming days, we will continue to fine-tune the testing procedures, both at the off-site testing area at Cape Cod Community College and at our hospitals. We are adhering to the processes we have developed that have made us one of the best healthcare systems in the nation, and we will continue to refine those processes as we learn what works to best address this disease outbreak.

To keep our community apprised of what your healthcare system is doing in response to the COVID-19 emergency, here are just a few of the measures we have put in place in recent days. We have:

  • Vastly increased our supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies.
  • Refined our triage processes in our emergency care centers, urgent care centers and telephonically.
  • Stopped elective surgeries and have a strict policy for our outpatient diagnostic tests.
  • Implemented ambulatory office procedures to better care for our patients whether in the office, on the phone, via Facetime, or simply rescheduling the appointments if they are not necessary.
  • Worked with insurance companies to simplify cumbersome preauthorization policies.
  • Prohibited visitors from entering our facilities.
  • Established an off-site testing center that can be accessed with a physician’s order and appointment.
  • Put up tents outside the Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital emergency centers to better triage patients who need emergency care before they ever enter our facilities.
  • Established a call center to help triage people who don’t have a primary care physician, in order to avoid unnecessary exposure at our urgent and emergency care locations.
  • Developed plans to add another 300 beds in our community; both at our hospitals and other locations to be announced at a later time.
  • Been actively working with our state legislative delegation, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, as well as the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure they understand our unique needs.
  • Been actively working with Congressman Bill Keating and the American Hospital Association to again, ensure they understand our needs.
  • Strongly advocated for safety net organizations and our staff to ensure we remain viable and our community is as safe as possible.

We ask you to remain as patient as possible, as we work through this emergency in real time. I urge you to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones - please stay home whenever possible, except for necessary trips. And please consider giving blood at one of our many Blood Drives so that our patients and community will have a continuous supply of this life-giving resource.

We are grateful for your support and please know my thoughts are with you and your families during this difficult time.

For more information on COVID-19 visit, www.capecodhealth.org/coronavirus.