COVID-19 CEO Update

A lot has changed since the HealthTalks Now crew last talked with Baptist Health CEO Gerard Colman. As Baptist Health begins administering the first doses of a vaccine against COVID-19, Colman joins Kerri and Kendra to provide an update on the health system’s pandemic response efforts. He discusses PPE supply, ICU bed space, and frontline caregiver staffing. They also examine how Baptist Health has weathered the storm financially and consider how the virus could impact healthcare delivery and infection control post-pandemic. Tune in as Colman shares lessons he’s learned, 2020’s “silver linings,” and his greatest hope for 2021.


Useful Resources and Next Steps:

In this episode of Baptist Health’s Health Talks NOW podcast, hosts Kerri and Kendra continue the current miniseries on the COVID-19 pandemic.  Their guest for the episode is Baptist Health CEO Gerard Coleman.  With about six months having passed since their last conversation with Dr. Colman, Kerry and Kendra are excited to get his updated take on the pandemic and Baptist Health’s response to it – focusing both on continued challenges and newly developing reasons for hope.

The hosts’ first question for Dr. Colman is broad: What have the last six months been like?  Dr. Colman’s simple answer is that these past months have been busy!  Only recently has Baptist Health seen an influx of COVID-19 patients due to the current surge of the virus.  Before this influx, the busyness was due to the hard work entailed in preparing for the events of a major surge by acquiring PPE and even helping to distribute it across the state.  Baptist Health has worked with state leadership, as well as with the federal government, in efforts to prepare for sharp rises in COVID-19 cases.  Through all its preparatory activity, Baptist Health came away with an optimistic outlook on the future of the unfolding pandemic, and even as more patients are entering its facilities for virus treatment, a sense of optimism remains.

Moving beyond an initial overview of the past months, Dr. Colman shares about the interview he just completed with CNBC.  It was a brief interview, but he was glad for the opportunity to share and felt the interview went well.  However, Dr. Colman would have liked the chance to say more about immunity, clarifying for his audience that, even after someone receives the first or final dose of the vaccine, it takes time to build up immunity.  So, people still need to be thoughtful –  employing masks, social distancing, and proper hand washing methods – even after receiving the second vaccine dose.  It may take around 40-50 days for immunity to take full effect, so precautions will still be very important even after two shots 21 days apart.  Additionally, individuals need to make sure to get the second vaccine dose, and need to be cognizant of wide scale vaccine rollout plans as they consider lowering their personal levels of caution.

Turning to health system finances, Kerri and Kendra ask Dr. Colman to comment on Baptist Health’s bottom line as the calendar year comes to an end.  It’s been a difficult year for health systems because of the pandemic, and so Kerri and Kendra wonder about the financial impact on Baptist Health and how it is positioned financially going into 2021.  Dr. Colman explains that 2020 required a lot of adapting on the part of Baptist Health, including the temporary restriction of elective procedures.  Adding those procedures back into hospital operations has helped the struggling bottom line, Baptist Health has been back on budget for the past couple months. 

The last episode of the podcast considered the clinical situation under the circumstance of the pandemic, and Kerri and Kendra now raise this topic again.  More specifically, they want to know about current concerns surrounding PPE.  Rather than masks, the concern with PPE that is common today concerns gloves.  There is a nitrile shortage, and while Baptist Health is not lacking in gloves, it does feel the need to use them carefully.  The shortage also calls attention to the fact that the supply chain for a lot of medical necessities such as PPE items includes different countries.  This fact raises challenges during a global pandemic, and the current challenges are pressing the healthcare industry to try moving more of the supply chain to the US.

Baptist Health has adequate gloves, but Kerri and Kendra wonder given the recent influx of patients if the hospitals have enough beds.  Indeed, Colman affirms, every Baptist Health facility every day has seen patients with COVID-19 seek treatment.  This is a challenge, but the network has done well and has not even had to activate its surge plans.  Of course, the holiday season will likely see case numbers remain high, so Colman again reminds listeners to take appropriate safety precautions.  He has high hopes for the spring if people are careful now!

 He is also hopeful, though, that advances in how COVID-19 is navigated will mean that this second surge does not require Kentucky to again halt all elective procedures.  There is no way to know for sure how things will develop, but even beyond the fact that circumstances are not so dire as to require that sort of action, there are also other concerns to weigh in deciding to make such a radical move again.  There are complicating factors in making elective procedures the thing that is forced to give, and questions surrounding staffing and how we shut down and start up health systems need to be considered carefully as government leaders consider any new efforts to limit healthcare operations.

Turning to projections for the future, CEO Gerard Colman provides insight into what he expects the healthcare space will look like going forward.  He finds the current climate among his colleagues to be curiously optimistic, and he discusses ways in which the incoming Biden administration and the yet-undetermined makeup of the Senate will impact the healthcare system.  While he has ideas for how the political situation will change things, he also explains that we can’t really tell how things will develop until the new president takes office and can modify his campaign plans to fit the restrictions and other circumstances that will face him in office.

There is much reason for hope, though, in 2021, and not just from the realm of politics; there is much room for hope within the realm of healthcare.  There is one thing in particular that both gives Colman hope and keeps him awake at night: our ability to get enough people vaccinated to move ourselves out of a pandemic state.  He is optimistic that the majority of people who can and want to be vaccinated will be so by the summer of 2021, but there are concerns and limitations surrounding the production and distribution of vaccines. 

Most specifically, we need things to continue moving along as different companies work on producing vaccines.  This gets to the heart of a common question Kendra and Kerri hear – the question of why we need so many different companies working on vaccines (including ongoing work on the part of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson).  Each company has a limited production capacity, so vaccination needs to be a team effort. 

Next, the group considers virtual healthcare, which has been made widely accessible by the CARES Act.  Colman believes that telehealth options will remain, at least for a time.  In the future beyond the more immediate reach of COVID-19, he anticipates that virtual care technology will advance, and that its use will be combined with in-person care.  Such in-person care is still very important for certain things, and many patients desire to see a physician in person. 

Not only will COVID-19 leave a permanent mark on virtual health, but it will also leave a mark on healthcare facilities long-term.  The delivery of healthcare will change forever, and there will be more thought put into the delivery of care.  There will be, for instance, a better flow of patients.  The COVID-19 standard will be the new standard of infection control.  The changes do not indicate that the old way of doing things was inherently bad, but we won’t be able to unlearn what COVID-19 has taught us, and the permanent changes will prove good for us.  As a side note, Colman insists again on the need for proper washing of hands; this is a practice that, if maintained by the public permanently, promises to decrease much spread of even minor seasonal illnesses.

As the conversation moves toward a close, Kerri and Kendra ask about the greatest lesson learned through the nearly one year of the pandemic.  Colman’s answer focused on the importance of relying on colleagues, loved ones, and friends to keep everything going.  We need to work to keep connections going and to keep things moving forward. 

Before bringing the episode to an end, Kerri and Kendra offer closing thoughts, focusing on takeaways.  They are encouraged by the conversation, and review lessons on a new and better normal and the need to focus on our humanity (including mental and behavioral health) by intentionally maintaining interpersonal connections.  Finally, they preview the next episode, which promises to be an exciting look at how a behaviorist would encourage us to enter the new year!

Key Takeaways:

[0:48] – Kerri and Kendra introduce listeners to the episode and their guest, Gerard Colman.

[1:11] – What have the past six months been like?

[3:03] – How was Colman’s interview with CNBC?

[5:12] – Kerri and Kendra wonder about the financial bottom line for Baptist Health.

[7:12] – The conversation turns to the clinical scene, specifically a new PPE shortage.

[9:52] – The next topic is an update on beds and patient volume.

[11:33] – Will Kentucky have to halt elective procedures again?

[13:09] – Kerri and Kendra ask what Colman imagines is next for healthcare.

[15:29] – What is his greatest hope for 2021, and what keeps him up at night?

[16:46] – People commonly wonder why we need so many companies making different vaccines.

[17:11] – The interview shifts to telehealth.

[18:50] – Do we expect a change to facilities long term?

[21:48] – Keep washing your hands!

[23:34] – The greatest lesson learned pertains to connections with and reliance on others.

[24:42] – Kerri and Kendra offer their concluding thoughts before wrapping up the episode.

View Transcript

Intro:

Welcome to HealthTalks Now, bringing you the facts you need to keep you and your family well. We’re happy you’re tuning in today. Baptist Health is committed to providing compassionate high-quality care that is centered on you. Listen to all of our podcasts to hear from Baptist Health physicians about the latest medical advancements and treatments, and get trusted information on timely health topics from our health care professionals. Whether you want to learn more about a specific condition or procedure or find tips for living a healthy lifestyle, Baptist Health is here to help you become a healthier you.

Speaker 2:

Welcome back to another episode of HealthTalks Now. Today we’re talking with Chief Executive Officer Gerard Colman for an update on the pandemic and Baptist Health’s response. Undoubtedly, there are challenges, adjustments, and changes, but collectively there’s hope. Let’s jump right in.

Speaker 1:

All right, it’s been just over six months since our last conversation. What have the last six months been like?

Gerard Colman:

Very busy. Only recently with COVID patients. Fortunately, after the first surge back in the springtime, we had many months of learning and opportunity to bulk up supply chains, getting enough PPE for all of our frontline healthcare providers throughout the entire system. We even helped the state of Kentucky acquire PPE supply that they were unable to do, but because we have a robust supply chain and great supply chain leadership, we were able to get enough PPE for not only our health care workers, our frontline responders, but others as well. So, outside.

Speaker 1:

No kidding?

Gerard Colman:

So yeah, lots of great work in that space. We worked very closely with the state in the last six months, and the federal government. We’ve been in close contact with the Senate Majority Leader’s office, close contact with the governor’s office here in Kentucky, and other state and federal officials, as well as our Kentucky Hospital Association, working together with the other health systems in order to make sure that we’re prepared for this now second surge, which we’re definitely seeing the last few months.

Gerard Colman:

Ever since fall, we’ve really seen the uptake week over week, more admissions coming throughout the Baptist Health System. So a lot of activity, a lot of really good activity, a lot of optimism, but I do have to say that the last few weeks in particular have gotten extremely busy dealing with COVID patients.

Gerard Colman:

The months prior to that were extremely busy. We were getting prepared. We were working on the therapeutics that we hear about. Not vaccines, but therapeutics, how we treat COVID patients, making sure we had the appropriate surge plans, and making sure that we had a vaccine distribution plan for when we get the vaccines.

Gerard Colman:

So very exciting six months since the last time we spoke, and I’m glad to be able to provide that little background and give you some thoughts on where we’ve been.

Speaker 2:

Perfect. Well, thank you so much for making time with us for this important telephone conversation. As we record this episode, you literally just wrapped up an interview with CNBC. How did it go and what question do you wish they would have asked you?

Gerard Colman:

You know, I think the interview went really well for the questions that they were able to ask, but it was a short segment. The good news is that it was just me and the interviewers, so I was able to answer a lot of their questions directly, and that, I think, was wonderful for Kentucky and for Baptist Health.

Gerard Colman:

I think the one question I wish I was able to answer or weave into one of my answers was even when people get the vaccine, the first dose, and even the second dose, it takes time to build immunity.

Speaker 2:

That’s right.

Gerard Colman:

So we’re going to have to continue to be thoughtful about wearing masks, socially distancing when appropriate from others when we can, and really washing our hands a lot, like we have been.

Speaker 2:

That’s right.

Gerard Colman:

So in other words, just because you’ve received the first dose of vaccine, and even when you receive the second dose of vaccine, it’s not as if, okay, I’m good to go. It’s really building up that immunity, which takes some time. It could take days, if not weeks, to build up the immunity that you need. So if you think about the distribution and how the vaccine works, if the second dose is in 21 days, you’re probably at 40 days to 50 days from the initial dose before you could say that you have enough antibodies built up that you would not be affected by someone with COVID.

Speaker 2:

That’s such an important distinction, too, I think, especially as people are really eager and looking forward to this vaccine as kind of the way back to normal, to emphasize that not only will they need to be mindful of the timeline of their own vaccination, but then the rollout plan for getting this distributed more widely across the country.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Our team is going to be working on some messaging of the importance of getting that second vaccine, because you would be taking away the opportunity for someone else to be vaccinated if you don’t make plans to actually follow through and get that second one.

Gerard Colman:

That’s excellent. That is a great thought. You’re right, because it’s a waste. If someone doesn’t get the second vaccine, we wasted a dose, and we don’t have doses to spare.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Gerard Colman:

I think that’s a great message.

Speaker 1:

So let’s talk bottom line before we launch into some projections. The last time we checked in with you, we were holding strong financially despite the monetary toll that the pandemic had most certainly taken on healthcare systems across the nation. As we approach the end of calendar year 2020, what is the impact been financially on the Baptist Health System, and how are we positioned financially to deliver care going into 2021?

Gerard Colman:

So we did very well, obviously, at the end of last calendar year, which for us ended August 31st. We weathered the storm, if you will, of COVID quite well by reducing executive compensation by unfortunately having to furlough staff and significant supply chain savings and other contract negotiations. So a lot of work by a lot of great people went into salvaging what was last year.

Gerard Colman:

Also, we were able to provide outstanding care when the governor’s restrictions were lifted. There was a lot of people that needed to come in for that very, very needed, we call it quaternary care, we call it elective procedures, and we call it same-day surgeries, if you will, but those are necessary for people and we were able to provide those services, finally. We don’t know the final impact, unfortunately, clinically, for those patients who waited a long time for that care, but we do know that it was able to help us recover financially.

Gerard Colman:

For the first two months of this year, we’ve done to budget. We’ve done well. We’re on budget. We’re excited about that because we’ve seen the impacts of COVID, again, in the fall months, right? The surge is coming back so we are having more and more patients admitted to the hospital. These patients are very sick. They require lots of care.

Gerard Colman:

In addition to that, we’ve seen somewhat of a decrease in some of our ambulatory care as we received last year, although this time not mandated by the government. This time, it’s just people are really sheltering in place to a certain degree and foregoing some of that needed necessary care.

Gerard Colman:

But we are staying on target, we’re staying on budget, and we’re excited about that.

Speaker 2:

Great.

Speaker 1:

That’s great to hear. Well, in our last episode, we had the opportunity to get a clinical update on the pandemic with Dr. David Dougherty, an infectious disease physician in our system out of Lexington. We discussed the ongoing clinical trials that we’re participating in, the impending vaccine rollouts, among some other issues.

Speaker 1:

Let’s continue that conversation right now talking about PPE. The focus now has moved from masks, which was the focus back in March, and now it’s on gloves. More specifically, a nitrile shortage, which is important to the glove production given latex allergies. Can you share with us what’s going on with Baptist Health, how are we looking in regard to glove supply right now, and what’s causing the shortage?

Gerard Colman:

The shortage is just because of the mass distribution and supply chain challenges that we’ve had. Obviously, the world has shut down. A lot of our PPE supplies are made overseas. That really has led to the disruption of the supply chain when it comes to gloves.

Gerard Colman:

We do have plenty of gloves and we’re able to offer those to all our providers. But we have to be thoughtful about that. We can’t just have boxes of gloves being inappropriately distributed. We have to make sure we keep an eye on the supply and make sure that it’s utilized appropriately and correctly. So that’s to one degree.

Gerard Colman:

The other thing is I think we’re seeing, and if anything has come out of this pandemic that was a silver lining, if you will, is that we’re trying to, as healthcare organizations, make sure that some of that supply chain or a lot of the supply chain moves back into the United States. Because it’s very difficult when you have a worldwide pandemic and countries are shutting down at various times to be able to keep supply chains open when pharmaceuticals are made in China, or gloves are made Germany, or electronic equipment is made in parts of Asia.

Gerard Colman:

It’s a worldwide issue. It’s not just China and production, it’s production in Germany, it’s production in Italy. You’d be surprised where bits and pieces of equipment are made all over the world and it’s not necessarily all in China. Some of it comes from other parts of the world, and when they shut down to curb the spread, that has a negative effect on all of us. So we have to work together to try to get some of those supply chains back into the United States.

Gerard Colman:

It would be good for the economy, it’ll be good for jobs, and it’d be really good for all of our patients if another pandemic or something like this were to happen to us again.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it really illustrates the impact this has had worldwide. Not just on individual countries dealing with curbing the spread in their own populations, but how the interconnectedness of us all battling against this disease.

Speaker 1:

And various industries, not just healthcare, as you indicated. That’s right.

Gerard Colman:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So to that note, can you update us on the beds and patient volumes?

Gerard Colman:

Sure. We’ve seen a steady uptake since the fall started, really. When fall started, so did the uptake in patients. At every single one of our facilities, every day, we have seen more and more patients be admitted with COVID.

Gerard Colman:

As you know, COVID patients are very ill. They need to be in hospitals and have hospital care. So it’s been quite challenging, but we’ve dealt with it very, very well. We’ve not had to activate our surge plans. We’ve not been at that point. We’re managing it very, very well, I’m delighted to say it. I think most healthcare systems throughout the state are as well, and it’s just a matter of really making sure that we work and we’re able to flex units up as appropriate and have patients admitted as appropriate and really watching it.

Gerard Colman:

But we have seen an uptick since the fall. I’m expecting that the Thanksgiving holiday, we’ll see more. As we go into the Christmas holidays, I don’t anticipate a major reduction in cases, but we have seen a steady increase. We’ve got to be mindful wearing, again, wearing the masks, social distancing as appropriate, and washing hands all the time. That’s probably the best defense is really washing the hands and the mask wearing.

Gerard Colman:

Social distancing as appropriate. People have to buy groceries. There’s certain things that people have to do, certain activities. If they do that, but they’re thoughtful about wearing a mask, trying to be socially distant, I think it’s going to be great with regard to the outcomes in the spring months. I hope.

Speaker 2:

Sure. Well, Kentucky has previously suspended elective procedures in consideration of space, ensuring proper staffing, and enough protective gear to care for the uptick of COVID-19 patients. As you indicated, we’re in a second wave. Indiana just halted procedures again. Do you anticipate the same will happen in Kentucky?

Gerard Colman:

Not at this time.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Gerard Colman:

But I can tell you that as the numbers continue to climb, I would believe that the governor may act in that way in the future. So currently, no, and I don’t see it coming soon, but I also would not say it’s definitely not going to happen in Kentucky. I think it’s going to. It has happened in other states. Like you indicated, it’s already happened in Southern Indiana, and it may happen here in Kentucky.

Gerard Colman:

The challenge is with that is that if you shut down, remember in the spring, we shut down those elective procedures, although they’re needed, but they’re considered elective, in order to preserve PPE. We don’t have a PPE shortage at this time and we do not anticipate one. Patients that are coming for those elective procedures are not necessarily going to be inpatients to a hospital.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that makes sense.

Gerard Colman:

So we have to be thoughtful about how we open and shut down healthcare. Just because we shut down an operating room doesn’t mean we’re going to have extra staff to staff the unit. Clinical staff are very specific. They’re trained in a certain way and can’t all do all things in all areas in the hospital. So just being thoughtful about how staff is deployed is really important.

Speaker 2:

Sure.

Speaker 1:

That makes great sense. I think it’s a relevant call to action to our communities as we head into the Christmas season to really be mindful of gathering with even close family members that live outside your home as we try to prevent another scenario like we saw in March that would cause these elective procedures to go back on shutdown.

Gerard Colman:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So let’s switch gears a little bit and discuss your projection for health care. We’re coming into a new administration. The landscape of our industry has irrevocably changed after 2020. What does the industry look like right now, and what are your counterparts and CEOs and healthcare administrations across the country chattering about?

Gerard Colman:

That is still on, if you will, because it’s curiously optimistic, is another way to put it. As we wait for the Georgia runoffs, I think that’s going to tell us a lot.

Gerard Colman:

So as you know, it’s highly contested in Georgia with the two Senate seats. If they go to the Democratic party, it sways one way. If it stays in Republican hands, it sways the other way. I’m not seeing dramatic changes in healthcare, per se. It’s on the national agenda on both parties, it always has been, but it really depends on ultimately which group is in power and if that is the House, the Senate, and the White House, as opposed to just having the House and not having the Senate. So it’s really going to be something that we watch very closely, but it’s really too close to predict and hard to estimate what the end result will be.

Gerard Colman:

I always tell people that you don’t really know what happens until you’re sitting in that seat. I know that every single president since I’ve been paying attention, so go way back to Ronald Reagan – yeah, that’s it’s my age – but go back to Ronald Reagan years, you think what you want to do as a president elect, and all of the things that you campaigned on, and all the things that you talk about with your constituents, what is important to your constituents and why they elected you.

Gerard Colman:

Then you’re actually sitting in the president’s seat and you have access to information and numbers that maybe you didn’t have as a presidential candidates and then you have to start constructing maybe a modified picture of what you ran upon. Not a complete change or a turnover of what you did or what you talked about to get elected, but maybe something that’s more in line with fiscal constraints, more in line with governmental constraints that you were not aware of, or worldwide constraints you were not aware of. You know?

Gerard Colman:

So it’s a very different picture, I think, when you have the amount of information that you have as a sitting leader, as opposed to someone who’s running for a ticket. So I think the future is uncertain for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. What’s your greatest hope for 2021? Then conversely, what’s keeping you up at night?

Gerard Colman:

Probably the same thing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Gerard Colman:

It’s really our ability to vaccinate enough people to get out of the pandemic situation that we’re in. So I’m optimistic and excited that we will get these vaccines. I’m hoping by summer that we’ll have the majority of the US population vaccinated that can be vaccinated and want to be vaccinated.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Gerard Colman:

But at the same time, I hear the same news that you do, that there’s only a million doses to start, and then there’s only going to be so many million of Moderna. AstraZeneca has not filed yet for emergency use authorization, EUAs, and that makes me a bit nervous. Because if that process is slowed down for whatever reason because the FDA feels that they need more data or more information before they approve Moderna, or before they approve AstraZeneca, because one pharmaceutical company, one immunization company, cannot possibly produce enough vaccines for the world. So it has to be a collective effort by multiple organizations and that’s what keeps me up at night.

Speaker 1:

I think that’s a great point to answer some questions that we’ve heard chattered about amongst the patients and the communities is why do we need all these companies producing different vaccines? I think there’s a lot of questions out there that our team is working to address with education. But that’s a really, really good point, that it’s simply a production issue and that it takes a team effort.

Gerard Colman:

It does.

Speaker 2:

We’re still underway with Johnson & Johnson right now, that we’re participating in, getting a diverse audience to test this and we’ll know more.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Gerard Colman:

Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

So the cares act made telehealth more accessible. Is that set to continue? If not, what impact does this have on virtual care going forward?

Gerard Colman:

For the going future, I believe that telehealth, it will be here beating for this next year, at least, because of COVID. I think there is going to be a need for tele-health going forward within the United States and abroad. The challenge is that although we know people love ease and convenience of buying things on their telephone or having Zoom and Skype calls and we’re very comfortable with that now as a society, and we’ve been comfortable with things like Amazon for a few years now, ordering things online and the ease and accessibility of it, and I think that the online physician’s visit has been very beneficial for certain things, but I think there is a need for people to still see a physician in person or visit a medical office in person.

Gerard Colman:

There’s also people’s desire to see their care providers, not maybe just their doctor, but other people in person. So I think we’ll continue to advance the technology around telehealth, telemedicine, and I think it will be phenomenal, but there’ll always be a need and probably a greater need for in-person. Whether it be emotional need more than clinical need, I think people really want to see a doctor. People want to stop at the urgent care clinic on their way home from work if they’re not feeling well as opposed to doing it online. There’s just a feeling of immediacy to it, quite honestly, and patients like that.

Gerard Colman:

I also think there’s some clinical things that’ll never be done via telemedicine. Now I say that, but I don’t think a computer will be able to draw blood anytime soon, however, I didn’t think you could do an EKG through a phone just five years ago.

Speaker 2:

So do we expect COVID-19 to continue to impact our facilities long-term? Meaning after the distribution of vaccines and we see a slow of the transmission, do we expect to see the impact on our patient volumes and our procedures?

Gerard Colman:

Yes, I would absolutely anticipate the change in healthcare going forward. Not necessarily the volume. I think the volume may shift in different areas, like we just talked about telehealth I think will take place of some things. I think medicine’s delivery of healthcare is going to fundamentally change forever.

Gerard Colman:

I’ll give you a great example as to the real world. Nobody in their right mind before 9/11 would think you’d have to take your shoes off before you go through airport security.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Gerard Colman:

Right? Now it’s just the course of business. You just take off your, it’s an automatic. Take off your shoes and you go.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Gerard Colman:

I think healthcare is that way. Something fundamentally changed in healthcare, it was this pandemic, and that created the need for people to think very differently about the delivery of care. Meaning how many patients should be waiting in a waiting room at one time? How many patients should a doctor have on her panel at one time? Just all of those things.

Gerard Colman:

I mean, even if you go back to the airline example, let’s just say it’s two years from now and everyone’s mass vaccinated, are you still going to feel comfortable in the middle seat on a plane?

Speaker 1:

Right. Yeah.

Gerard Colman:

I don’t think I’ll ever want to walk into a crowded doctor’s office in the future. The benefit of that, quite honestly, to the patients and to the providers, is people having appointments and they come right in. There’s all these benefits to it that we don’t see right now because we’re in the middle of the pandemic, but in the future, I think we should be optimistic there’s going to be healthcare for all.

Gerard Colman:

Meaning like we’re going to have access, people will not be afraid to come out to get elective procedures and see their doctors because they have pre-existing conditions. With that, we’ll have better flow of patients, better access, better patient flow through our facilities. I think that’s going to be to the delight of our patients and for their family members who are driving them to visits, picking them up, and so on.

Gerard Colman:

So I think there is a benefit there, but we have to get through this first before we can really see it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Such is life, right? I mean, if you think about it, if you go back to the airline example or if you’re talking specifically about healthcare, the changes that we’ve implemented are going to be for our good and for our safety. But that doesn’t mean that the things we were doing before were careless or reckless or anything like that. It was the best that we knew, then.

Speaker 1:

We didn’t know any better.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It’s kind of one of those things where you see something and you can’t unsee it, you can’t unlearn it, you know?

Gerard Colman:

Exactly.

Speaker 2:

So you’re right, I think it will be something that is probably something that we can’t unlearn or that we don’t ever go back to 2019 state of normalcy, but it might be something that is really to our ultimate good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Like seatbelts.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Gerard Colman:

That’s a great example, car seatbelts. If one thing stays from this pandemic, if people would just keep washing their hands. I mean, even if we stop wearing the mask, which I think we’d all love to be done with masks. I think we’d all love to go out to dinner in a restaurant. No doubt about it.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Gerard Colman:

I mean, I think we all want that. But I think if people continue to wash their hands diligently and have little bottles of Purell in their cars so when they come in from their shopping trip, they automatically. It’s almost like, going back to your example, putting on a seatbelt. When I get in my car from a shopping trip, wherever, the first thing I do is Purell, wash my hands, put my seatbelt on. Or put my seatbelt on and wash my hands, whatever you’re comfortable with.

Gerard Colman:

But think about that. That in itself would it help eliminate all sorts of common cold viruses, all sorts of sniffling challenges that we all face every year. Just that has helped. If we just maintain that one good practice, that would be amazing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So it sounds like this is going to become the standard of infection control. Some of these precautions that we’ve implemented with the plexiglass, the masking, the waiting in your car, some of this will remain. It will be in our foreseeable future and, like you said, reduce the transmission of other viruses.

Gerard Colman:

That’s right. That’s absolutely right. I think it’s going to be here. We’ll give up some of it for the good of humanity.

Speaker 2:

Right. I think that’s a really hopeful message. I think there’s a lot of people that are concerned or disheartened that these measures are going to be here to stay. There’s a lot of people talking like can we just get back to normal? I think if you frame it that way and say a lot of things will return in time and when it’s safe, but some of the stuff that’s here to stay is really going to be for our good.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

I think that’s a helpful message to take away here.

Speaker 2:

Well, before we let you go, we’ve gone now for nearly a year in pandemic mode, which is kind of hard to believe, what has been the greatest lesson learned?

Gerard Colman:

The greatest lesson learned is that you really have to rely on your colleagues and your loved ones and your friends to really keep in contact, keep connected, keep everything going. Because all of us have very important roles in our lives, meaning our work life, also our family lives, also our network of friends lives, and although you may not think it, you’re really important to someone else’s network of friends. Keep contact with them and make sure those lines of communication are open, even if it’s just a random text here and there.

Gerard Colman:

Work to make sure that your team connects on a regular basis, hopefully weekly. Sometimes that’s not always possible. That way people are keeping things moving forward. Because in a Zoom, WebEx world, it’s really easy to lose track, and I think that keeping that on the forefront, making sure that you stay connected, making sure that you are providing leadership or providing a thought for a team, I think is really important.

Speaker 1:

Sure. To be more intentional with the human contact.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, what a greater takeaway.

Speaker 1:

Yes. Well, it’s good to catching up with you. Thank you for your time.

Gerard Colman:

Great talking to you guys.

Speaker 1:

That was a good conversation.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

It’s been half a year.

Speaker 2:

I can’t believe it’s been six months.

Speaker 1:

Since we caught up with him last. Great to follow that last episode that we did.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was a really, really good kind of segue into this topic. I think it was encouraging to hear that although we’re in definitely a surge, we are well-positioned as a system, that we’re not lacking PPE.

Speaker 1:

No.

Speaker 2:

We’re in a good place where we have a manageable patient volume, where we’re able to provide that great care, where we’re not in danger of shutting down the elective procedures in Kentucky, again, making that care accessible to folks.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we’re very fortunate. Our patient base is definitely benefiting from it and it was inspiring to hear that as a system we were able to procure the PPE and other supplies for our community partners and strengthen the relationship.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, not only for us, but to give back to the areas that we serve.

Speaker 2:

I mean, obviously so much remains to be seen as we’re moving into a new year. I mean, if you think about it, we’re really moving from a reactive stance to a proactive. Where we were hit with battling this pandemic and reacting to the changes and the disease across our world, but now we’re moving to a place where we’ve kind of gotten these protocols in place. We kind of know what we need to do and now we’re taking action on the proactive side to what we can do to affect the change and to hopefully overcome it.

Speaker 1:

Right, not only with the learning more about the vaccine, but the infection control. I’m in complete agreement, some of these changes are necessary to reduce transmission of other viruses. So it’s not all bad we won’t return to, quote-unquote, back to normal, but there’ll be a betterment in our society.

Speaker 2:

That was such a good takeaway, as well, of the importance of checking in with your support system and being cognizant.

Speaker 1:

What a greater message.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

You know, I think it goes to show the humanity, I think, that we’ve seen since this pandemic started. It’s certainly about the disease and the illness, but the overarching message, I think, is the focus on the humanity and the way that people have collectively come together and worked as teams and checked in. Really, we’ve seen a focus on mental health and behavioral health that we’ve needed for a long time in our country, especially. So I think there’s been a really a greater takeaway than just what we’re doing with coronavirus.

Speaker 2:

So speaking of, what’s up next? What can we look forward to?

Speaker 1:

Our next episode is going to be a really, really good one. We’re talking with Dr. Krista Moe. She is a behavioral health physician, and we’re going to be talking about moving into the new year with a positive take, how we can look at 2021 in light of the opportunities and our strengths, and move into it with a really good footing where we feel confident and capable and not bringing all of the disappointment and the unmet expectations of 2020 along with us.

Speaker 2:

Sure. That’s going to be a great episode.

Speaker 2:

So if you’re not already subscribing to the HealthTalks Now podcast, make sure you hit that subscribe button and we’ll see you next time.

Outro:

Thanks for tuning in to HealthTalks Now. Staying healthy is a lifelong commitment, and Baptist Health can provide the support you need to lower your risks, improve your quality of life, and protect your longterm health. Visit baptisthealth.com to hear our other podcasts, learn about our services, and find more tips to help you stay a step ahead of your health. Baptist Health, be a healthier you.

This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as medical advice. The content in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This podcast is not designed to replace a physician’s medical assessment and medical judgment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions or concerns you may have related to your personal health or regarding specific medical conditions. To find a Baptist Health provider, please visit baptisthealth.com.

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