pandemic frontline
Our Care

Triumph in the Face of Trials

December 03, 2020

Thank you, colleagues, for your exceptional work during an exceptional time.

The pandemic has challenged HCA Healthcare at every level. In the face of such adversity, character and fortitude are tested. Yet, the response throughout our organization — which has a storied history of responding to disasters — has been nothing short of remarkable.

When reflecting on the impressive accomplishments of our organization, we can see five powerful themes: protecting colleagues and physicians, providing outstanding patient care, developing mutually beneficial partnerships, providing a resource for communities and the government, and continuing to advance the organization during the crisis.

“We have proven — you have proven — that our organization, more so than many in our industry, has unique enterprise skills, capabilities, and heart, all of which allow us to respond effectively and responsibly to events like this one, and at the same time improve our organization,” said CEO Sam Hazen. “Thank you again for your unwavering dedication and commitment to our patients and to each other.”

Terri Billings, CRT Respiratory Therapist

Terri Billings, CRT
Respiratory Therapist
Redmond Regional Medical Center, Rome, Ga.

Frontline Voices

From the early days of understanding the novel coronavirus, respiratory distress emerged as a critical outcome. The impact of respiratory therapists was immediately paramount. It’s been an incredibly trying situation, especially at Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome, Georgia, among the first hospitals within HCA Healthcare to treat COVID-19 patients.

“That’s been really hard to experience,” says Terri Billings, a respiratory therapist with 40 years of experience. “Our team works very hard to help our patients recover, and we get very close to our patients and their families.”

The virus presented a unique threat. Due to the rapid onset of the pandemic, the team had to act quickly and innovatively to protect patients. “It was an amazingly creative moment, driven by a team working together,” Terri says. “I know we make a positive difference in our patients’ lives every day with the technical care we provide. But we also make a huge difference in the way we provide care beyond our typical respiratory therapy treatments.”

“We have a saying that sums up our culture of teamwork: ‘We Are Redmond.’ I see it lived out every day,”

— Terri Billings CRT Respiratory Therapist Redmond Regional Medical Center Rome, Ga.

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Alma Salazar
Environmental Services
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, West Hills, Calif.

Patients at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center in West Hills, California, can rest and recuperate knowing that Alma and her colleagues in environmental services are making the extra effort to keep their facility safe and sparkling clean. 

“What I enjoy most about my job is knowing that I provided a well-sanitized environment for the care of another human life,” Alma says. “It’s very rewarding to know that my skills are respected. I have the utmost respect for the fact that I am part of a team that, above all else, is committed to the care and improvement of human life.” 

The work isn’t always easy, but Alma sets an example for others to follow. “Alma is an extraordinary colleague who is always willing to lend a helping hand to her co-workers and patients,” says her supervisor, Manuel Covarrubias. “What makes Alma a valuable member of our team is her inspiring positive attitude and her constant willingness to go above and beyond in order to benefit the entire department.” 

“I am part of a team that, above all else, is committed to the care and improvement of human life,”

— Alma Salazar, Environmental Services West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, West Hills, Calif.

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Owen Rogers, BSN, RN
ER Nurse
Westside Regional Medical Center, Plantation, Fla.

Owen knows medical trauma from two very different perspectives: that of a patient and that of a registered nurse. He was working at Plantation General Hospital in Plantation, Florida, in July 2019, when a CT scan revealed he had a massive brain tumor that contained cancerous tissue. 

After undergoing emergency surgery, Owen endured a six-month recovery, including 35 radiation sessions and proton therapy treatment. With a 12-inch scar on the side of his head, he returned to his full-time position, prepared to take on the pandemic with the same determination he had when overcoming his brain tumor. He now works as an ER nurse at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation. 

“When COVID-19 arrived at Plantation General Hospital, we were ready and fought tooth and nail for the lives in our care,” Owen says. 

“Very few people can do what frontline workers do. Those who can toe the line at the front feel an unmistakable need to run in when everyone is running out. That’s the common denominator of a frontline worker. I thrive in that environment. I really enjoy it.” 

“When words weren’t enough, our actions carried our message of hope, renewal, patience, love and compassion,”

— Owen Rogers BSN, RN ER Nurse, Westside Regional Medical Center, Plantation, Fla.

pandemic frontline

Katherine “Katie” Neligan, MSN, RN, CNL, PCCN
Clinical Professional Development Educator
Mission Hospital, Asheville, N.C.

Personal protective equipment is a primary defense against COVID-19. Katherine’s knowledge of the proper use of PPE as the progressive care educator at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, was so crucial during the onset of the pandemic that colleagues nicknamed her “COVID Katie.” 

“It’s definitely been stressful for everyone, and you almost go through the stages of grief, where you’re almost frantic at first, and then you’re angry this is happening to you, and then you come to accept it,” Katie says. “That’s where we all are now. And we feel like we know how to care for these patients.” 

The coronavirus requires a team approach, and nursing is, without question, a team vocation. 

“I’m amazed at the work my pulmonary staff does with COVID-19 patients and the resiliency they show when they come into work every day with smiles on their faces,” Katie says. “They’ve kept up with ever-changing information and recommendations for care of COVID-19 patients and provided exceptional care in trying times.” 

“The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the relationships I have formed with the staff on all the units I serve. I refer to them often as my work family.”

— Katherine “Katie” Neligan MSN, RN, CNL, PCCN, Clinical Professional Development Educator, Mission Hospital Asheville, N.C.

Protecting Our Patients

As for our primary focus — caring for patients — HCA Healthcare colleagues treated more than 68,500 COVID-19- positive inpatients (as of November 2020). We were one of the first health systems in several markets to restrict visitor access in order to create a safe environment for patients. We also distributed iPads so families could visit patients virtually and held countless celebrations of healing as patients were discharged. For those suffering financial hardships, HCA Healthcare offered more flexibility for payments. We created a hotline to answer questions from recently unemployed patients and offer assistance with applying for insurance coverage. 

Another aspect of our robust response to the pandemic: our long-standing support of the communities we serve. More than $1.7 million in grants has been distributed to local organizations through the HCA Healthcare Foundation and an affiliated trust. Meanwhile, we continued to take part in private-public partnerships such as the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve, which provides lifesaving ventilators for hospitals. We also supported clinical trials for COVID-19 research through Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, while our data science team helped develop a COVID-19 data portal for communities to use. 

Together, these actions paint a broader picture of an organization dedicated to our mission, colleagues and communities