FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Dr. Jeffrey Boord is the Chief Quality and Safety Officer at Parkview Health.
He is the executive physician responsible for infection prevention, among other things.
This is our latest conversation.
Q: What do we know now that we didn’t know six weeks ago about either the virus or the pandemic?
A: Well, when this started, we really did not know how high the spike in cases was going to be in our region. That was one of the reasons that we mobilized our incident command center. We certainly were hoping for the best but we had to be prepared for the worst. Fortunately, the social distancing measures that were put in place, both regionally and statewide, really did help flatten the curve a great deal in northeast Indiana. So although we have seen quite a few cases of COVID-19 in our hospitals, it has been a manageable volume and we’ve been able to take care of those patients. We’ve learned a lot about how to manage patients with COVID-19 since the pandemic came to our region. We now have very detailed protocols on how to evaluate and manage, either in the hospital or in our emergency department.
Q: As we loosen social distancing, will we see a spike in hospitalizations?
A: That’s a great question. There really are a lot of aspects to social distancing. It’s more than just staying six feet apart or wearing a mask. To really help our community prepare for this gradual reopening that has been outlined by the governor, we have been collaborating with Greater Fort Wayne Incorporated, the Allen County Department of Health and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to offer numerous webinars where we’ve been able to engage directly with community organizations, local businesses, faith groups and other areas of the economy to provide some sensible guidance. What are the measures that you should put in your place: a retail business, a church or an office-based setting in order to help maximize the safety of your employees and your customers, students or clients? What we’re doing right now, Dirk, is a great way to eliminate risk: having a virtual meeting, teleconferencing and things like that. We have over 4,000 coworkers at Parkview that are currently working from home and they’re going to continue to do that. Another strategy we can use to help augment social distancing? Cleaning surfaces in high touch areas and personal hygiene. I believe that we can greatly reduce the risk of seeing another spike in cases.
Q: If the data allows the state to hit phase five on July 4, that would allow for festivals, ball games and zoo trips. Could large public events cause a spike?
A: It’s difficult to predict. We can have exposures in a range of different venues or situations. That’s where having a robust surveillance program is really critical. If we see some early signal where we’re seeing a spike in cases, that provides the opportunity for the health department, government agencies, and you all in the media to quickly get the word out. We may need to modify some things quickly in order to mitigate any risk of early resurgence of COVID-19 in our community as we start to open up and have more potential social interactions.
Q: Is the game plan to go from keeping healthy people at home to instead keeping sick people or potentially sick people home?
A: Part of the plan is to make sure we incorporate additional safety measures for those in our community that are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with COVID-19 – older adults and people with chronic health conditions. Certainly on an individual basis, they can continue to reduce the number of trips outside the home or outside of work, for example. But even in the workplace, we need to keep those folks in mind and may need to have additional measures in place. If you have an older adult employee or an employee that has a chronic health condition, they might be a good candidate to work remotely or make sure that they have their own office so that they can maintain social distance in order for them to be at work safely.
Q: When will a vaccine be ready?
A: I certainly am very anxious to see the development and implementation of a vaccine. That is really going to be the key for us to be able to manage the pandemic. If we can get a vaccine that’s proven to be effective and we can then administer that widely across our population, that’s going to greatly mitigate the risk of having recurrent spikes of COVID-19 in the community. There is some very promising early work that’s been done and it’s very encouraging. It’s difficult to speculate exactly when we might see a vaccine but if I had to guess, I think it’s gonna it’s going to be sometime in 2021. Certainly if it happens sooner I will be delighted and we will be delighted here at Parkview Health. Believe me, we are ready, willing and able to start administering that vaccine once we have one available to provide for our patients and co-workers.
Bonus Q: Is Parkview part of any research into the virus?
A: We are. For example a drug that you may have heard of Remdesivir. We actually took part in one of the initial phase-three expanded access trials and, as part of that trial, actually treated two patients at Parkview Regional Medical Center with Remdesivir. And the results from that phase three trial very recently led the FDA to grant emergency-use clearance for the drug for clinical treatment which was very exciting. We’ve also been collaborating with the Red Cross on another promising therapy which is convalescent serum that is derived from donated plasma of an individual who has recovered from COVID-19 and has the essential antibodies and immune factors that can help another individual who is critically ill to fight off the infection and help speed recovery. One of the key needs, though, is that the Red Cross needs people who are willing to donate plasma who have previously recovered from COVID-19. If there are folks in the community that are interested in donating plasma to help with that effort, they can go to Red Cross blood.org and learn more about the donation process.