Supporting Our Healthcare Heroes

As we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, our community is coming together in support.

by Dr. Keith Knepp, CEO, UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois
L-R: Brooks Rock, Pekin Pain Clinic; Dr. Generoso Sison, Pekin East; Dr. Praveen Sudhindra, Infectious Disease
L-R: Brooks Rock, Pekin Pain Clinic; Dr. Generoso Sison, Pekin East; Dr. Praveen Sudhindra, Infectious Disease

By the time you’re reading this, my hope is that the COVID-19 curve in central Illinois flattened and the peak of the anticipated surge in patients has come and gone with hospital resources to spare. As I’m writing this in mid-April, my hope is that after months of planning and predictive trending, our local health systems are ready in the right ways to care for the quantity and acuity of COVID-19 patients in our region. 

What I can tell you, without a crystal ball, is that we have never backed down on planning and preparedness for every scenario, and that’s still the case today. I do know with certainty that we must all continue to stay home and do the right things like social distancing to stop the spread of this virus in the weeks to come. 

Addressing the Challenge
Since the first positive case of COVID-19 in central Illinois, UnityPoint Health has enacted steps in our surge plan to allow us to maintain adequate resources during this challenging time. We made important decisions to postpone elective procedures and surgeries, restrict visitors to our hospitals with only a few exceptions, and open our incident command center at both the regional and system levels to properly manage this ever-changing situation. Some of these decisions were difficult and impacted some of you directly, but we knew they were critical in protecting the health of our patients, front-line team members, medical providers and the community. 

I’m amazed at the resilience this community is showing every day and inspired by the collaboration of our community partners. We are in constant communication with experts in all areas of our organization and beyond—including our fellow healthcare providers, disaster response professionals, physicians and medical providers, emergency management officials, state and local departments of public health, and federal agencies. We are continually monitoring the data to hone our response, and to know which of our communities are the most impacted by this disease. 

I want you to know that our hospitals maintain highly trained infection control teams and specialized equipment for treatment of patients with COVID-19. We are monitoring the number of ventilators as the situation changes and have the ability to shift resources when and where they are needed most. We will also continue to work closely with our state departments of public health to follow the latest guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These times are challenging, and we will focus on being nimble in shifting resources to address changing needs. 

Medical staff working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
Left: Phyllis King and Jewerl Moore of the Environmental Services team are dedicated to keeping facilities clean and keeping patients, visitors and staff safe. Right: The Anesthesia team supports the treatment of COVID-19 patients as experts in airway management and intubations—the most dangerous procedure for personal exposure. Back row: Dr. Adrian Costin; Katie McGill, RN, CRNA; Tiffany Barnard, RN, CRNA; Dr. Robert Singleton III; Dr. David Bayley; Dr. Anthony Foulen. Front: Sandi Krahn, RN, CRNA; Angie Brown, RN, CRNA; Gidget Kellenberger, RN, CRNA

 

Medical staff working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Left: Rachael Wyman, PSR, Pekin East Clinic. Right: The clinical lab team is working tirelessly to provide quick and efficient results. L-R: Kole Plunk, Oluchi Umesegha, Allison Wessel, Kellsi Krei, Ashley Allen, Bailey Rhoads, Hannah Allen, Bob Thiemann

 

Medical staff working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
Left: UnityPoint Clinic – Express in Morton is the respiratory clinic screening patients for COVID-19. L-R: Mika Bertsche, Lauri Huber, Tami Ghidina, Breanna Regguinti. Middle: The ICU (Intensive Care Unit) team is working together to provide the best care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured: Alicia Layton, APN. Right: Veronica Sebienthal, RN, and Steve Deppolder, Respiratory Care

A Message of Gratitude
Most of all, I want to personally thank our front-line healthcare workers at UnityPoint Health and across central Illinois. It’s hard to find the right words to describe the dedication, compassion, bravery and strength they show to our community every day. They deserve our gratitude, our grace and our generosity. 

How to Help During COVID-19
UnityPoint Health is grateful for the overwhelming offers of support pouring in from the Greater Peoria community. Learn how you can help support our team members and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic at unitypoint.org/peoria/coronavirus-how-to-help.aspx.

If you’d like to show your gratitude to our team members who are putting their lives on the line, you can do so by making a donation to our Methodist | Proctor Foundation. Your gift to the COVID-19 Crisis Fund will help keep our team members and their families safe by providing appropriate equipment and supplies, rides and meals. Your gift will also provide crisis support to help with needs like childcare, elder care support and mental health services, to name a few. Please consider contributing today.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to let this community know how amazing you all are. In these most challenging of times, you are supporting us in every way possible. You are providing much-needed supplies, sewing handmade masks for our staff, and showing our healthcare workers incredible support as they fight for the health of our patients. I’m inspired by this community. We are here for you and we will get through this together. PM

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