SNHMC Emergency Department Stands Strong During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Jess Wyman, RN and Dr. Joseph Leahy, Medical Director of ED at SNHMC inside COVID-19 testing tent.

As we celebrate National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week, we’re looking at all the incredible work and dedication of our health care workers. They have adapted to a new “normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic and have overcome many obstacles.

The Emergency Department at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center is one of many units that has adapted to COVID-19 patient care.

Dr. Joseph Leahy, Medical Director of ED at SNHMC explains, “Job responsibilities in the ED have not changed, we still treat anything that comes through our doors.” However, the ED has been divided into two units. One is dedicated to both COVID-19 positive and suspected patients. The second unit is for non-COVID-19 patients.

To protect staff, the department has created new safety protocols. Ambulance and walk-in patients are pre-screened to see which side they should be seen on. Also, knowing that patients may not have clear symptoms, all patients are treated as possibly having COVID-19. That means staff wear masks, gloves, and eye protection. Full PPE is used anytime concern is heightened for COVID-19.

While New Hampshire hasn’t seen a surge in cases, staff have prepared by reviewing donning and doffing PPE procedures and were fitted for N-95 masks. “We paid very close attention to what was happening in Italy, Washington State, and New York City, trying to learn from their experiences,” Leahy explains. 

To help, the department has also credentialed additional staff. “Despite all the fear and anxiety that COVID-19 produced, our staff is committed to caring for patients to the best of their ability. They have done everything we have asked, and I couldn’t be prouder of the commitment they have shown to each other and to the organization,” Leahy said.

He says staff is staying positive and upbeat with a lot of joking. The thank-yous, donations, and snacks has also had a profound effect on morale.

Leahy’s message to the SolutionHealth community: “We are here, we are ready. We will roll with whatever comes our way. We appreciate all of the collaboration, communication, and efforts that have gotten us to this point.”