Murrill: Hospital will weather the storm
CEO speaks on providing care, need for social distancing and amazing community support
Last updated 4/2/2020 at 2:30pm | View PDF
For people who wonder whether staying home, practicing social distancing and washing hands makes a difference, the head of Hinsdale Hospital says it does.
"That is critical to us at the hospital. I can't stress that enough," Mike Murrill, president and chief executive officer of Amita Adventist Medical Center Hinsdale and La Grange, told The Hinsdalean Wednesday.
This is obviously a challenging time for everyone at the hospital, but staff are rising to the challenge, he said.
"I think for health care providers - for pretty much all of them - they run to a fight, and I think that's come through here in a big way," Murrill said. "We have daily huddles virtually with our physician leadership and they are fully engaged in working on solutions and talking through the issue.
"I think the challenge is to wade through all of the information that is out there right now and what is true and what isn't - and what is important information for today," he said.
Hospital officials also are working diligently to make sure they are prepared for the future. News reports have shown many hospitals setting up tents outside, but that has not been part of the strategy at Hinsdale or La Grange.
"You may not see tents at our campuses, but that doesn't mean we aren't thinking about it and planning for the potential surge," Murrill said. "Know that we've got plans for handling surges. Whether we need that or not, time will tell, but we're ready if that should be the case."
Officials also are making sure anyone who requires care is segregated from others who might have COVID-19.
"For Hinsdale (that means) structuring our campus in such a way where patients can feel safe when they come in to deliver a baby or they need their therapy at the Cancer Institute - creating safe environments for them with appropriate segregation and protection," he said.
Another challenge is making sure resources are utilized appropriately, especially as guidelines for materials like personal protective equipment change daily.
"It's a national issue. We're right in that with everybody," Murrill said of concerns about the supply of equipment. "I think right now it's heavily focused on appropriate use, and I think you're continuing learning more about what's the appropriate type of PPE."
The hospitals' parent organizations, Ascension and Advent, are working to procure equipment and resources. The Illinois Department of Public Heath became more involved this week in monitoring the use of beds and ventilators across the state. The hospitals are reporting those statistics twice a day now, Murrill noted.
"We realize if we aren't diligent and aren't smart about how we use our resources, that's where we get in trouble," he said.
Hinsdale and La Grange, two of 19 hospitals in the Amita network, also are fortunate to be located just minutes from one another, Murrill said. The ability to have experts from two campuses work together is an advantage, as is the ability to coordinate treatment between two locations.
"If we get hit differently at one campus versus the other, we're able to work together to make sure we're managing the patients appropriately," he said.
Both hospitals are checking the temperatures of staff members when they arrive for work and have prohibited visitors. Murrill understands how difficult that can be on families.
"That's where our team can come in and be that smiling face (for a patient) when a loved one might not be able to be there," he said.
Just as hospital employees are working to support patients, community members have been very generous in supporting them, with everything from meal trains to cards and letters and cash donations.
Local businessman Al Koplin and his family are leading a fundraising effort to donate $250,000 to the Hinsdale Hospital Foundation for ventilators and other equipment.
"You look at his lifetime commitment to Hinsdale Hospital and it really is humbling to consider that and how he stepped up and really brought others along with him on that journey," Murrill said. "A huge thank you to the Koplin family and many others who have stepped up in big ways."
The "Honk for Heroes" parade of cars that passed by Hinsdale Hospital for about 10 minutes Sunday night was another special show of support.
"My phone was blowing up, and I got text messages and emails the next day of it," he said. "I think that's an example of people being creative in the current environment but saying we're not going to disconnect, we're actually going to try to connect more."
While health care providers are dedicated to their work, it does take a toll. Knowing the community is behind them makes all he difference, Murrill said.
"I can tell you it bring tears to the eyes of the team as they see these things happen, as they talk about it," he said.
Community members might be experiencing their own anxiety during this time, and Murrill encouraged them to seek out resources at https://www.amitahealth.org
"There is a toll that it takes mentally, so how we deal with anxiety during these times is critical as well," he said.
While these times are trying, dealing with health care crises is nothing new for Hinsdale Hospital, Murrill noted. Since the Hinsdale Sanitarium opened in 1905, the facility has treated patients with typhoid fever, the Spanish flu, the Asian flu, the measles and more.
"They have been a beacon of hope and healing in this community for a long time," Murrill said.
"I am confident we will weather this one as well," he said. "That comes with amazing team members and the show of support from an amazing community. That culmination, together, is what will bring us through this as well."