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COVID-19: Gritman’s procedures and staff help to put patients at ease

Elk River resident Tonya Delphous was a bit nervous when her physician recently asked her to go into Gritman Medical Center for blood work.

Scratch that – she was terrified.

Her fear was understandable. Tonya has an autoimmune disorder and asthma, putting her right in the highest risk category for suffering severe complications from COVID-19.

“I was an EMT for 12 years, and even with my medical experience,” she said, “I was scared to death to even go in for regular testing.”

Tonya, however, quickly realized the staff and thorough screening and safety procedures put in place at Gritman would help keep her and others safe. When she arrived at the entrance of the Emergency Department, she was immediately greeted by a friendly staff member who asked a handful of screening questions.

“That alone really calmed my anxiety. I already have high anxiety, so for me that totally put me at ease knowing that everybody can’t just walk in,” she said. “That was very, very reassuring.”

Since Tonya had had a fever a week prior, she was directed to Gritman’s Emergency Department Mobile Respiratory Unit, located in the ED parking lot. It specializes in screening and evaluating any patients who have respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and those with other respiratory conditions similar to cold and flu.

While her anxiety once again spiked, it was just temporary, as she was promptly examined and cleared by a skilled and compassionate nurse to enter the main campus and proceed with her laboratory work.

“The staff goes above and beyond,” Tonya said. “Everyone that I talked to was very calming – if I had a choice to go to any of the area hospitals, including up north, my pick will always be Gritman, just because of the people.”

And she had a message for the frontline staff working to keep the community safe.

“Thanks for being strong, because it is scary for everybody,” she said. “Just the fact that you can put that strong face on, it means a whole lot to people.”

Learn more about Gritman’s response to the COVID-19 crisis at gritman.org/coronarvirus