Media updates index
Hospital vaccine distribution
When HCA Healthcare receives the COVID-19 vaccine, we will begin cascading it to our colleagues in accordance with federal prioritization guidelines. Emergency Use Authorization will be the indication that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined the vaccines were tested and proven to be safe and effective. While colleagues will not be required to receive the vaccine, our infectious disease experts, as well as those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus.
Our clinical and emergency operations teams have developed a plan that includes storage and a vaccination administration process, and we're working closely with the state on a distribution timeline.
Community-based COVID-19 specimen collection and testing sites
As part of a state-wide COVID-19 testing initiative, individuals are encouraged to do the following:
- If symptomatic for COVID-19, the individual can call the primary care offices of Appledore Medical Group and arrange for a virtual visit and a test.
- If asymptomatic for COVID-19, but concerned they have the virus, the individual can call the primary care offices of Appledore Medical Group and arrange for a test.
Please visit the Appledore Medical Group website for locations and phone numbers.
COVID–19 National Response Portal
The COVID–19 National Response Portal is intended to enable healthcare providers across the country to safely share and display anonymous, aggregated metrics from hospital systems into a single platform to show a complete and real-time view of the COVID–19 pandemic. Data can be submitted each day from hospital systems across the United States and will be focused on metrics such as ICU bed supply and utilization; ventilator supply and utilization; total numbers of positive, negative, and pending COVID–19 test results; and total numbers of healthy patients who have been discharged. The platform will also have the ability to leverage publicly available datasets, such as data on local shelter-in-place policies, and traffic or mobility patterns, to help shed light on how public behaviors and policies may impact the spread of COVID–19.
We have well established protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and we have been working diligently in our preparations for COVID-19. Part of our response includes balancing our readiness to care for patients with COVID-19 while continuing to make sure the many other patients who depend on our hospitals receive needed and timely care. We are following the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review scheduled procedures based on a number of factors, including the urgency of the procedure, the clinical judgement of our physicians as well as the current circumstances in the facility and the community. Our COVID-19 preparedness efforts include reinforcing infection prevention protocols and guidance from the CDC, sourcing necessary supplies and equipment, and emergency planning, so our hospitals are prepared to safely meet the needs of all of our patients and protect the health and well-being of our colleagues.
Employee safety and security
Colleagues, medical staff/caregivers, and vendors/contractors entering the building will be asked standard screening questions:
- Do you have a fever OR cough OR shortness of breath, OR difficulty breathing?
- Have you been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- If "YES" - colleagues, medical staff/caregivers, and vendors/contractors will not be permitted to enter the facility and will be given further direction.
- If "NO" - colleagues, medical staff/caregivers, and vendors/contractors' temperature will be checked:
- Those with temperatures > 100.4°F will not be allowed in the facility and will be given further direction.
- All Portsmouth Regional Hospital colleagues are monitoring their health and have attested to follow the HCA Healthcare policy on Communicable Disease Preparation, which attests that colleagues that report to work, by entering the facility, attest that they do not have symptoms of a contagious illness.
- Additionally, all colleagues must complete hand hygiene with alcohol-based sanitizer.
Portsmouth Regional Hospital is a 220-bed acute care hospital located in Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth Regional Hospital serves the Seacoast region’s residents in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts and is one of the area’s largest employers. Portsmouth Regional Hospital is the only ACS Verified Level II Trauma Center on New Hampshire’s Seacoast. Portsmouth Regional Hospital is the Seacoast’s only comprehensive heart and vascular program, and its only 24/7 neurosurgical and stroke clot retrieval programs.
HIPAA and patient condition updates
As caregivers, we have a responsibility to protect patient and colleague privacy and are bound by HIPAA regulations regarding the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI). We can only provide a current patient condition update when a specific patient name is provided.
Personal protective equipment
Portsmouth Regional Hospital is doing everything we can to equip our patient care teams to provide safe, effective care during this unprecedented crisis. This pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields, and gowns, as COVID-19 cases and utilization of PPE exceed the ability of suppliers to manufacture PPE. These circumstances require a thoughtful, pragmatic approach that considers the safety of our colleagues and the wellbeing of our patients.
Portsmouth Regional Hospital currently has adequate supplies of PPE, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure we continue to have enough to protect our colleagues as they provide care to patients. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are taking prudent steps now to conserve PPE because we do not know what our future needs will be.
Portsmouth Regional Hospital has an assigned clinician that is solely responsible for overseeing PPE inventory and stewardship, and we have deployed dedicated teams of educators, infection prevention experts, and nurse leaders to provide support. We are following CDC protocols for the reuse of certain PPE and we are asking our colleagues to conserve these items by following, but not exceeding, the guidelines for infection prevention. We are allowing the use of both N95 masks and standard facemasks. The evidence suggests that COVID-19 is spread by droplets, for which a standard face mask offers adequate protection.
We continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve.
- Portsmouth Regional Hospital has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases and for potential issues related to COVID-19. As part of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our resources to provide support and solutions to our patients, colleagues, and communities to meet the demands of this rapidly evolving situation.
- Portsmouth Regional Hospital began procuring additional personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gowns, face shields, N-95 respirators, and linens months ago. Colleagues responsible for care have been provided training on the safe, effective, and responsible use of PPE. We are continuing work to ensure Portsmouth Regional Hospital has adequate PPE and are implementing steps to conserve our supply with the recognition that the COVID-19 epidemic is rapidly changing. Our hospitals have prioritized negative pressure rooms equipped to handle patients with airborne and droplet precautions consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidelines.
- Portsmouth Regional Hospital is continually evolving emergency preparedness and surge plans to meet the potential need.
- We continue to work in partnership with local and state health departments and the CDC for the health and safety of all those we serve.
- Our staff of exceptional physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, experienced nurses, aides, and staff continue to care for every type of medical need in our community.
Portsmouth Regional Hospital has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and we continue to work diligently to protect our colleagues, patients, and visitors. Our COVID-19 preparedness efforts have included reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols and guidance from the CDC, ensuring we have necessary supplies and equipment, and emergency planning. Recently, we began segregating COVID-19 patients from other patients in our care. We are taking this practical step to help contain spread, conserve supplies of vital personal protective equipment and enhance our ability to handle a potential overflow of COVID-19 patients in our ER, should the need arise.
- By locating COVID-19 patients in a focused environment, we can more effectively marshal the resources, equipment and expertise to care for COVID-19 patients.
- This will enable us to better protect our caregivers by facilitating allocation and deployment of personal protective equipment.
- This will also enable us to better protect our patients by facilitating allocation and deployment of essential medical equipment like respirators.
- The extra level of triage also protects patients who are visiting the ER for unrelated symptoms, keeping our ERs fully operational and functional.
We continue to reinforce infection prevention protocols and work in partnership with local and state health departments and the CDC. We will provide updates to our hospital and medical staff as necessary. We ask that anyone worried that they have COVID-19 to seek care in the most appropriate setting. If you have mild symptoms, contact your physician or go to an urgent care center. If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, go to your local hospital's emergency department. No matter where you go, please call ahead so your site of care can prepare for your arrival and take actions to avoid exposing other patients or staff.
As the threat from the COVID-19 virus is amplified, so too are our efforts. Here are just a few of the steps we are taking to assure uninterrupted care:
- We're limiting entry into hospitals and clinics so anyone who enters into patient care areas can be carefully screened, and masks can be provided to those who need them.
- Every employee, caregiver, and physician has been asked to follow a self-screening procedure, because protecting our patients starts with protecting our people.
- Precautions taken to treat patients with COVID-19 are similar to those taken to treat patients with influenza, with restricted visitation to limit exposure. This is commonplace procedure for us during any flu season.
- As always, cleaning to prevent the spread of infection is occurring throughout all of our care sites.
- We are providing care to patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization. These patients are cared for in isolated areas of the hospital, so we can safely provide continuous care for all other medical needs.
Remote monitoring tool
HCA Healthcare Telehealth Services has worked with key stakeholders to support the COVID-19 response. We launched the VivifyGo remote screening and monitoring app, which allows colleagues and patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 to maintain secure, real-time access to healthcare professionals. This app allows us to virtually monitor and support symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, while limiting exposure to patients, staff, and others.
Employees and patients are prompted by the app to update their symptoms twice a day and are monitored by a care team who intervenes, as requested by the patient, or as the result of a change in condition. The monitoring lasts for 14 days, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Patients who have been tested and treated in our ER facilities and who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not showing symptoms, are also given the opportunity to opt-in to the VivifyGo app and participate in the monitoring program.
This program is another example of HCA Healthcare initiatives that support clinical efforts in all facilities and which helps preserve limited supplies of personal protective equipment.
Restricted visitor access
Portsmouth Regional Hospital has implemented the following visitor safety measures because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
- Visiting hours are from Noon - 6:00pm.
- Portsmouth Regional Hospital will allow one visitor per patient per day.
- Please limit the time you are visiting a patient to two hours maximum.
- Please wear your hospital-issued Level 1 mask at all times inside the facility.
- Please stay in the room assigned on your visitor sticker.
Laboring mothers may have one adult visitor during their stay and pediatric patients may have one adult guardian during their stay.
Any exceptions to the above will require approval by the department director, nursing supervisor, and administrator on-call. Common exceptions include end of life care, traumatic emergencies, or care taker related needs.
All visitors must meet screening criteria to ensure they are not ill or experiencing symptoms when entering the facility.
Please consider programs like FaceTime, Skype, etc. to virtually visit your loved one.
Thank you for your help in maintaining a safe environment for our patients.
Portsmouth Regional Hospital continues to plan to ensure we have the capacity, staffing, supplies, and equipment needed as the situation continues to evolve.
Interested candidates can learn more about hiring opportunities for nurses or join a virtual job fair on HCA Healthcare's website.
In anticipation of the continued spread of COVID-19 patients, Portsmouth Regional Hospital has been actively planning and preparing to help ensure we’re read to care for more patients. While Portsmouth Regional Hospital currently has the bed capacity, staffing, supplies and equipment we need at this time, this crisis is evolving and we are vigilantly assessing our resources and taking action to help ensure we can continue to meet the needs of the communities we serve.
We have put into place protocols, informed by guidance from the CDC, to ensure our patients receive the best possible care. This includes:
- Universal masking policy: To protect our patients and clinicians, we have expanded our use of masks beyond suspected or positive COVID-19 cases to apply to all patient care.
- PPE conservation: We currently have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, and in order to ensure our caregivers and patients continue to have what they need as the pandemic evolves, we are asking staff to conserve personal protective equipment by following, but not exceeding, the guidelines for infection prevention.
- Additional supplies & equipment sourcing: While the global shortage of PPE and important medical equipment such as ventilators is affecting hospitals across the nation, we are uniquely positioned to manage it as best as possible as part of HCA Healthcare. HCA Healthcare is actively evaluating a number of data as well as the needs and supplies at its facilities in order to understand the potential impact of patient influx. HCA Healthcare is continuing to work to identify other sources of important supplies and equipment to help ensure we continue to have what we need.
- Increased bed capacity: We are engaging in detailed bed utilization planning, including exploring adding bed capacity and converting current rooms and beds to ICU and/or negative air flow rooms if needed.
- Personnel utilization planning: We are designing creative staffing plans to maximize our staff’s availability as needed, including accessing HCA Healthcare’s in-house staffing agency and plans for emergency credentialing of nurses and doctors who may not be a part of our current workforce. Some of our colleagues whose hours have been affected by the reduction or elimination of elective procedures may be redeployed to provide additional support. In addition, if needed, we may have access to additional staff from our affiliates in other areas of the country.
- On-site screening tents: As needed, we can raise on-site tents to serve as triage and screening areas for low-acuity patients. The tents will give us space to screen patients quickly, so they can be discharged home or admitted.
- Internal communication & collaboration: Communication with staff remains a high priority, and we are committed to ensuring the distribution of critical information/data to those who need it. We are in touch daily with our colleagues at other divisions of HCA Healthcare to share strategies and resources that are successful in other areas of the country already seeing escalated outbreaks.
- Government collaboration: Our leadership at HCA Healthcare is working together with government leaders at every level to access what our caregivers need. We are collaborating with top experts and industry leaders as part of the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition to develop solutions to protect the safety of our patients and frontline clinicians.
We don’t know exactly how this unprecedented outbreak will affect our communities in the coming weeks, but we do know that Portsmouth Regional Hospital and our team of exceptional doctors and nurses are here for our patients. Our top priority is protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff, and we are working every day to help ensure they have the resources we need to provide high-quality care for our patients during this challenging time.
We’ve implemented additional steps to combat COVID-19. All staff and providers in all patient care areas will now wear masks, expanding their use beyond suspected or positive COVID-19 cases. This initiative will increase the protection of staff, healthcare providers, patients, and others in our hospitals.
Masks will be optional only for staff in non-patient care areas who can consistently maintain social distancing of at least six feet during brief interactions with colleagues. All visitors and patients presenting for outpatient testing will also be required to wear masks.
Our top priority is protecting our patients, clinicians, nurses, and colleagues so we can best serve our communities throughout this pandemic. We are taking this step now because of evidence that social distancing, while a key strategy for interrupting the spread of coronavirus, is difficult to maintain in the busy patient care environment.
The latest analysis indicates that we have ample personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies available to meet the demand for additional use of masks pursuant to this new policy. Even though we have adequate supplies of PPE, we will continue to take steps to conserve it, including reuse and reprocessing of PPE where appropriate.
Professionals in our supply chain have continually worked with epidemiologists and data scientists to track use and anticipated demand of PPE so stock can be allocated appropriately. Our staff is also working around the clock to safeguard existing supplies and secure additional shipments.
For the safety of our volunteers, we have suspended our volunteer program at this time.
Ways to help
Portsmouth Regional Hospital truly appreciates the generous outpouring of support we are receiving from the communities we serve. We'd like to encourage those who wish to provide support to do so by:
- Donating supplies including masks, face shields, and other PPE from hardware stores, schools, or other sources. However, based on current CDC guidelines, we are not accepting homemade masks at this time.
- Donating blood through local blood banks including the American Red Cross
- Organizing efforts to assist our caregivers with childcare, shopping and meals.
- Contributing to local COVID-19 response funds
- Donating items to local charities in need
- Donating money*: If you would like to help the underserved in our community during this time, please consider making a financial contribution directly to your favorite non-profit organization or to one of our community’s COVID-19 response funds that will help numerous non-profits support those in need. Donations can also be made to the HCA Hope Fund, which helps Portsmouth Regional Hospital colleagues during times of financial stress.
*Please note that donations to HCA Healthcare Portsmouth Regional Hospital and/or any of our facilities are not tax-deductible and receipts will not be given.