Rachelle Schultz: How Winona Health has responded to the crisis and is reimagining care

Rachelle Schultz: How Winona Health has responded to the crisis and is reimagining care

  • 1

What’s Next?

Back to business, sort of.

As we gain some breathing space from the onset of COVID-19 to resumption of services to our community, we are also very actively establishing new processes that position us for a surge, a second wave, a new vaccine, or any new infectious disease that may show up.

This experience has taught us a lot and we are putting it to good use. Further, COVID has disrupted health care in a manner that allows for deep and long-lasting change to a system that was in a rut.

Some have parsed this experience into three phases: respond, recover and reimagine. I like these phases.

We responded, and we continue to do so. Our plans were developed and executed, and elements lie in wait in the event they are needed.

For example, we have approval to expand the number of licensed hospital beds if a surge occurs, and we have sufficient resources to outfit that expansion.

Ongoing testing, screening and overall surveillance are also core to this work. Testing in our regional congregate-living residences is almost complete and expanded community testing is underway.

As of Monday, there have been very few positive cases in our service area.

That is both good news and cautionary information. It does not mean the threat of COVID is over; rather, one conclusion may be that Winonans answered the call to maintain social distancing, wore masks and practiced hand hygiene and other infection-prevention actions. This is great news; however, it also means Winonans cannot let up on these practices lest we begin to experience outbreaks.

We are now in the recovery phase. As you are likely aware, Winona Health has resumed full clinic hours, elective procedures and elective surgeries during the past two weeks.

Even so, we are taking a measured approach to this recovery to ensure patients and our health-care staff remain protected and safe from exposure to COVID.

Processes we may have thought were temporary have now found their way into our daily work. A primary example is screening all individuals (patients, staff and visitors) who come into our buildings. This screening includes temperature taking.

Our approach to this included consideration for patient needs, our around-the-clock operations (for example, physicians and staff on-call after hours for emergency surgery), and continued separation between patients presenting with and without COVID symptoms.

Our recovery plan is extensive as we address how we resume all normal operations while at the same time ensuring we can flex and accommodate COVID situations. This means we monitor our PPE supplies, testing, screening, inpatient ICU and medical/surgical bed capacity and unit separation, and more, so that we can adjust if needed.

You may think the reimagine phase is yet to come; however, it is running simultaneously with the other two phases.

This is no time to wait and see if things settle down. While the pandemic tested and stressed many processes, it also opened new doors to how we deliver care.

For example, telemedicine has been available for a number of years but regulatory barriers limited its use. The telemedicine genie is out of the bottle.

The elimination of those barriers and the rapid adoption of telemedicine has proven to be a game changer. It will not entirely replace visits to one’s provider, but it will enhance and complement care provided to patients.

That is but one example of health care reimagined. A key strategic focus at Winona Health is population health or value-based programs. Essentially, our focus is on collaborating with patients to advance their health and well-being.

We have been very successful in this work and are expanding it. The major measures of success are lower health-care costs, high-quality outcomes and improved patient experience and access. Our work aligns the needs of patients, providers and payers.

As I reflect on some of the lessons learned from the pandemic, it is clear that one’s health status is a critical element in the outcome of contracting such a disease.

Studies are showing that high blood pressure, obesity, age, any respiratory conditions, immunosuppression and other chronic conditions play a significant role in the course of the illness and its outcome.

I know there is a lot more we will learn as more studies are done.

In the meantime, I am grateful that Winona Health’s transformation work was well underway and focused on chronic conditions, health promotion, well-being and early intervention.

We do not want to wait for the next novel virus or disease to show up and wreak havoc on our community. Our preparation includes moving the dial on the health of our community, reflecting our mission, and we do that in partnership with all of you.

Be well.

Rachelle H. Schultz is president/CEO of Winona Health.


Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Donald Trump is responsible for a fair amount of badness in the 3 { years he's served as president of the United States: Dismantling and denigrating American institutions, encouraging white supremacy, locking up immigrant children, asking a foreign government to interfere with an American election, lying 5 million times. And those are just a few things off the top of my head. And while it's ...

Commentators have been busy trying to discern what Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was up to when he joined the Supreme Court's four liberals Monday in striking down a Louisiana abortion law virtually identical to a Texas statute the court overturned in 2016. Was he cynically voting to save the Republican Party from the political fallout of an anti-abortion ruling? Or maybe a concern for the ...

"DC should be a state. Pass it on." That's the message supporters of D.C. statehood pushed on social media late last week as the U.S. House of Representatives prepared to vote on D.C. statehood. And on June 26, for the first time in our nation's history, the majority-Democrat U.S. House of Representatives passed along party lines (save for a lone defection) a bill that would create the ...

The story surfaced like one of those trial balloons we're used to seeing out of political offices and campaigns - Republican insiders telling Fox News that President Donald Trump is grumpy about his reelection prospects and might quit the campaign if his poll numbers don't improve. Let him. But don't count on it. The campaign rejected the notion, calling it the "granddaddy of fake news." The ...

Wear your damn masks, because my child needs to go to school this fall. It's been approximately 3,839 days of quarantine, and I'm in a pretty good routine. I broke down and bought a proper desk; unlike the table I had been using, it doesn't have a support beam underneath that barks my shin a dozen times a day. I set an alarm every morning. I figured out how to schedule calls and interviews ...

Everyone knew what would happen. Coronavirus cases spiked after millions of people throughout the United States flooded shops and restaurants without masks or social distancing during the first weekends of summer. For months, the news media has touted rising death tolls, CDC warnings, and WHO alerts, but millions of Americans still regard the odds of contracting the virus, suffering and dying ...

Keep your hands visible. Don't be disrespectful. Say "yes sir, no sir." No sudden movements. These are the instructions inherited by Black children for generations. The directions are given, to sons in particular, with the hope they will get home alive should they come in contact with the police. Passed down like grandma's recipe for banana pudding, the fear cuts across class and income. ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News