It’s impossible to ignore recent headlines of how COVID-19 is sweeping the nation — again. The alarming aspect of this latest surge is that most infections consist of the new Delta variant, which is many times more contagious than the previous version and may cause more severe illness in the unvaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine, however, remains your best defense in decreasing the risk of transmitting the virus, being hospitalized, or dying of COVID-19.
I realize the difficulty for our community, mainly because we were beginning to feel comfortable again spending time with small groups, doing errands without our masks, and relaxing the COVID-19 protocols. Since we have suffered a regression as a country, the most important things we can do are to become vigilant again by practicing the three Ws — washing our hands frequently, waiting six feet apart, wearing our masks when in public, and getting vaccinated. If you have not received your vaccine, please do so as soon as possible. It’s easy to get a vaccine now as supplies are plentiful, and you can stop by the health department or local grocery and pharmacies.
Another health issue to be aware of is identifying sepsis. Sepsis Awareness Month is quickly approaching (September), and the condition starts when a bacterial or viral infection you have initiates a life-threatening response throughout your body. Most sepsis cases stem from bacterial infection, however. What makes sepsis so deadly is that once it gains a foothold in your body, it escalates so rapidly. As a result, organ shutdown is a significant concern, and another danger is septic shock, which is late-stage, severe sepsis. Severe sepsis is identified when low blood pressure becomes so extreme that your organs don’t receive sufficient supplies of blood, leading to their inability to function.
Coincidentally, there’s a good bit of overlap with COVID-19 regarding who’s at risk for sepsis — those 65 and older, people with compromised immune systems, and individuals who have chronic health conditions like diabetes. Other vulnerable groups include children younger than one and sepsis survivors.
The infections that most often lead to sepsis originate in the lungs, digestive tract, skin, and urinary tract. The alarming symptoms of sepsis are increased heart rate, low blood pressure, fever and chills, shortness of breath, pain, and even feeling disoriented.
The statistics surrounding sepsis are frightening. It’s the 10thleading cause of death in the United States, and it’s responsible for causing the death of 1 in 3 patients who die in the hospital (even though nearly 90% of the sepsis-related infections start outside the hospital). Further, though we’re making inroads on lowering the number of sepsis deaths, the numbers are going in the wrong direction — up — in terms of how many people are dying once they’re in septic shock.
The medical community worldwide is working on how best to prepare providers, particularly nurses, on how to spot sepsis signs as early as possible. For example, the International Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) is a project created by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM). Their aim is to develop multiple initiatives to reduce death from sepsis and septic shock, and improve the quality of life for sepsis survivors. Since COVID-19 compromises many of the same organs that sepsis affects, and it’s an infection that puts one at greater risk for sepsis, the SSC campaign has put special effort into researching and advising about COVID-related sepsis in 2021.
We realize that an essential combination of components for preventing sepsis before it develops is enhanced training for nurses and other hospital staff, such as radiologists and pharmacists, and medical technology that enables providers to identify it earlier. If they can spot sepsis signs sooner and be alerted with the help of electronic tools, it can be prevented.
Lastly, I would like to introduce the community to Angel Medical Center’s new Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer, Clint Kendal, FACHE, MBA, MSN, BSN, RN. Clint comes to us from Andalusia, Alabama, where he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Andalusia Health, LifePoint Healthcare. Clint was responsible for the management of and strategic planning for a 113-bed acute care facility, and oversaw Andalusia Physician Services as well.
Clint earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Nursing, and Health Care Management from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Western Carolina University.
We’re excited to have him assume his position here at AMC, since his career is defined by deep commitment to superior patient care, safety, open communication with providers and employees, and nurturing a culture of excellence.
I have no doubt that Clint’s commitment to AMC will see usthrough this challenging time. Please remember to do your part to curb this rise in COVID-19 cases by first snd foremost getting your vaccine and by following the three Ws.
Dr. Timothy Layman, DNP, is the Director of Hospital Clinical Operations and the Interim CEO/CNO at Angel Medical Center. Layman holds a DNP in Nursing Practice from Yale University, an MBA in Healthcare Management from Western Governors University, a MS in Nursing Administration from LaRoche College, and a BS in Nursing from Pennsylvania State University. Before coming to Angel Medical Center and Mission Health, he served as Vice President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Thomas Jefferson University. Layman currently serves on the faculty of LaRoche University and Yale University.