For one healthcare system in Indiana, the word HERO is more than an individual who saves lives. It’s the entire community of Greensburg, Ind. Since the start of COVID-19, the Decatur County Memorial Health and the community it serves has worked hand-in-hand, step-by-step in saving lives, keeping people safe and saying “Thank You”.
Qsource took a few moments to discuss with Amy Shearer, Marketing and Communication Manager, Decatur’s social media messaging and community involvement during the pandemic.
Qsource: Thank you for taking time to speak to us today. Can you give our readers a brief overview of Decatur County Memorial Health?
Amy: DCMH was founded in 1922 as a memorial to those residents who fought and died in World War I. Today we are a critical access hospital with numerous specialty providers, three primary care offices, and an immediate care clinic. We offer services such as Cancer Care, Wound Care with hyperbaric chambers, Orthopedics and Cardiology.
Qsource: So tell us what has it been like to provide care during COVID-19.
Amy: Our staff was well prepared to take care of patients. With the expectation that some service lines would cease and others would be very busy, we cross-trained many staff members. We also created staffing matrixes and clinical pods for the best patient care. In addition, we were continuously educating providers and nursing staff on best practices. DCMH nursing staff manned the 24-hour COVID hotline for the Decatur County Health Dept and was able to triage those calls. In addition, some of our clinicians helped staff a local nursing home when they were short of staff. During the pandemic, we implemented Virtual Care visits so that patients could stay home and see a provider from the comfort of their own home. We also initiated a Respiratory Clinic for those patients who had COVID-like symptoms.
Qsource: From the looks of your social media activity, It appears that social media messaging has played a big part in getting the message out to the community and staff during COVID-19. Can you tell me about how that has worked for the hospital?
Amy: During the COVID pandemic, DCMH worked with local government and the Decatur County Health Department, state government and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). The messages were ever-changing and the data was being updated minute by minute. The best and quickest way for us to get messages out was through social media. We were sending out daily messages on our social media platforms and even created a COVID webpage that is still updated daily. We also created weekly videos from our CEO, CNO and Chief Medical Officer updating the community on the important messages during that time.
We were continuously updating patients on what to expect when they arrived at the hospital: visitor restrictions, screening them upon arrival, wearing of masks, etc. We were also letting patients know that we were well prepared to take care of each patient. Our PPE, ventilators and supplies were all well stocked and it was important to reassure patients that we were prepared. Today’s message is encouraging patients who have been hesitant to come into the hospital that this is a very safe place. It is important that patients do not put off their annual exams and check-ups they might have had scheduled prior to COVID. DCMH has put numerous disinfection processes in place and we continue taking every precaution for our patients’ health and safety.
It was also important for us to stay in daily contact with our staff. We sent out daily emails updating staff of county-wide numbers, current changes in Tier levels, our PPE supply levels, and various other topics associated with the pandemic. Senior Leadership and our Board went above and beyond in taking care of our staff. The daily emails was another way to share information regarding free childcare, emotional support, free breakfast and lunch, and encouraging words.Our CEO, Rex McKinney, also has weekly Zoom calls for all staff. He uses this to update staff on the current status and answer any questions staff may have.
Qsource: Decatur also created a Healthcare Heroes (#dcmhstrong) project that appears to be a community outreach project with an appreciation of clinical staff.
Amy: That’s right. Our staff had been working so hard and enduring a lot both physically and emotionally. Regardless of what department staff worked in, they came together and made DCMH a stronger, better place. Marketing wanted to highlight those heroes who put our patients, our community first. We captured images of them in hero form and created print ads and social media posts to honor them.
Qsource: It appears your social media efforts really rallied the community together in support. From observing social distancing to making masks for the hospital staff, the community really stepped up.
Amy: It did. We developed the Thank You video as a way to show our community how much we have appreciated their hard work and efforts during the pandemic. It takes a community to make a difference. Each person is important, as the video says. From the one who stayed home to keep everyone safe, to the business leader who donated PPE supplies – it took a community coming together and we wanted to say “Thank You” to each one!
Qsource: But Decatur has done more than just say “Thank You” with a video. The hospital has developed several outreach opportunities as well.
Amy: Yes we have. DCMH felt it was important to keep our community mentally well during the pandemic. Courtney Wittmer, mental health counselor, who is also trained in art therapy, created videos as a way to help people cope through the crisis. Her topics were broad – from deep breathing exercises to fun activities with your kids to craft projects for adults. We noticed these were some of the most shared and liked videos we had on social media. This shows the great need individuals have for good mental health.
DCMH partnered with Prairie Farms and has given 8600 gallons of milk away this past week! Half of it was shared with the Versailles, Indiana community and the second half was shared with Decatur County. Droves of people came out to get free milk and then share with others. Today, in fact, Prairie Farms is back – this time giving the milk away to essential workers and not-for-profit organizations.
Every year we have an indoor Healthy Fair at the local elementary school. This is a free event we hold each year to offer free blood analysis screenings to our community members. We also offer other types of free screenings – blood pressure, cancer risk, dysphagia, neuropathy, etc. Normally there are 75+ other health-related vendors we invite to the event. Last year’s event saw over 850 community members in attendance!
Due to social distancing efforts, this year’s event will be a drive-thru Healthy Fair. Attendees will stay in their cars until they reach one of 6 Lab Stations and then they will step out of their vehicle into the tent and have their labs drawn. This year we will be offering a CMP, A1C and Lipid Panel. The blood screenings are made possible by a grant through the Decatur County Hospital Foundation.
Many local companies sponsor the event and are able to put information regarding their businesses in a swag bag we will be giving every adult at the event. In addition, each person will receive a voucher for a free Jimmy John’s lunch.
During the four hour event, at the top of each hour, a DCMH provider will be speaking on the local radio station sharing information related to their service line. Normally the providers would speak conference-style at the Healthy Fair. This year we improvised by having them present at a live-remote with WTRE.
We could easily have canceled this year’s Healthy Fair, but we know how valuable this has become to our community. This is a great opportunity for those who are underinsured or uninsured to receive screenings that they would not have been able to otherwise.
For DCHM, being a hero doesn’t require wearing a cape. Instead, wearing a mask and deeds of kindness is all that is needed. In the words of Superman himself, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christoper Reeve