From Shepherd Center's President and Chief Executive Officer
Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, discusses Shepherd Center's efforts regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus).
For most of us, the last few weeks have been unlike any other period in our lives. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has challenged all of us to change the way we operate, and Shepherd Center is no different. In a time of rapid change and constantly breaking news, we remain guided by our concern for the health and wellbeing of our patients, their caregivers, our staff and community. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you the many ways we're working to keep them – and you – safe.
Our team has planned for the impact of COVID-19 on all business operations. We have assessed staffing and prepared for absences so that our patients continue to receive the care they need and deserve. We have been and will continue to screen all of our patients, families, visitors and staff for illness so that we can help keep those both inside and outside our doors healthy. We made the difficult choice to limit visitation in our inpatient units and day program gym to lower risk of transmission from outside of the hospital and are working with patients and families to provide options for communicating electronically.
For our outpatients, though most clinics are closed, we're using telemedicine when at all possible so that there is as little disruption to care as possible. Our Apothecary has also started offering a drive-up service so that patients can continue to get their medications. It's not exactly business as usual, but I have been heartened by how our team has come together even more so than usual under challenging circumstances.
We have developed a plan so that our staff can continue to work despite closing most outpatient clinics/single-service therapy visits. We are cross-training employees, as well as developing new and different ways of functioning to adjust to our new environment. We are allowing more flexible work arrangements, when possible, including working remotely, flexible work hours, increasing teleconferencing and using other tools to minimize employee, patient, family and visitor exposure.
We continue to provide information that is relevant and timely to our patients, families and staff through our social media channels and at shepherd.org/COVID19 We know our patients have specific concerns about how COVID-19 will affect their health, so we launched an e-mail address and phone number for patients to use to get their questions answered by a Shepherd Center staff member. If you have general inquiries related to Shepherd Center's actions related to coronavirus, you may send an email to COVID19@shepherd.org or leave a message at 404-350-7662. We will respond as quickly as possible.
These are unprecedented times that will require all of us to be even more caring, thoughtful, diligent, nimble and resilient. Please take care of yourself and others.
SARAH A. MORRISON, PT, MBA, MHA, is president and CEO of Shepherd Center. She joined Shepherd Center in 1984. Morrison has served in various leadership roles at Shepherd Center, including vice president of clinical services, director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program, director of the medical/surgical and ICU programs, manager of the spinal cord injury day program, a physical therapy supervisor and a physical therapist.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.