Prior to being named the Chief Medical Officer for Piedmont Fayette Hospital in 2018, Angela Swayne, M.D., was the hospital’s Physician Director of Quality and Safety for the hospital. Safety is Piedmont’s top priority, and it has been a particular focus since the hospital admitted its first COVID-19 positive patient in March.
“From the first incidence of COVID-19 in our community, the team of doctors, nurses, and staff members at Piedmont Fayette worked to keep our patients, visitors and employees safe, while preparing for an anticipated surge of more patients,” said Dr. Swayne. “That meant restricting visitors, cancelling all elective surgeries, relocating our intensive care unit to a larger floor, and following the best practices, processes, and procedures to conserve our resources of personal protective equipment. I’m proud of how the team stayed united and continued to deliver high-quality, patient-centered care.”
As scary as COVID-19 can be, Dr. Swayne states that following safety protocols, both at the hospital and in public, can do a lot to keep people safe. In addition to the safety measures mentioned earlier, Piedmont Fayette screens all patients and visitors and checks their temperature upon arrival. Patients coming in for outpatient surgical procedures are all tested for COVID-19 in
advance of their arrival and patients who come to the emergency department with symptoms of the disease are immediately escorted to isolation rooms.
“The hospital is a safe place to be, and it is important for those who need medical attention to not wait to seek care,” said Dr. Swayne, who added that hospitals around the country have reported an increase in patients suffering from heart attacks or strokes delaying care. “Our purpose is to make a positive difference in every life we touch. I believe that focusing on patient safety makes the biggest difference in the lives of our patients and visitors.”
Dr. Swayne joined the Piedmont Physicians Group in 2003. She served as the Director of Palliative Care and Critical Care at Piedmont Fayette from 2010 to 2014. Dr. Swayne has also served in numerous leadership roles at the hospital including Chair of the Department of Medicine and Section Chief of Internal Medicine. Those roles provide an understanding of what the caregivers on the frontline endured during the height of the pandemic, which is why she urges the community to remain vigilant.
“While the number of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 has declined at Piedmont Fayette to a relatively small number, it is not at zero,” said Dr. Swayne. “We strongly urge the public to wear masks when in public spaces, particularly indoors, and maintain physical distance when possible. It is also important that everyone continue to wash their hands thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content.”
These are the recommendations that the public has been hearing for months, but complacency could lead to a surge of new cases. Dr. Swayne also recommends that people clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and contact their doctor if they begin to experience symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, unusual cough, shortness of breath).