CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System Encouraging Patience as Vaccine Roll Out Continues in South Texas
San Antonio, TX – CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System understands the importance of administering COVID vaccines to those who need it most, including our vulnerable populations. That is why we are working so hard to vaccinate people who fall into Phase 1A and Phase 1B as defined by the State of Texas.
However, to ensure the distribution process does not overwhelm both our community members and our hospitals, we encourage people not to walk up to our hospitals for vaccine clinics.
Our hospitals are working hard to fulfill all scheduled appointments and provide vaccinations to our health care workers, including those who are due for their second dose of the vaccine. Because of that, we cannot guarantee that those who walk up will receive a vaccine – even if they are in the prioritized groups of Tier 1B: people who are 65 years of age and older and those over 16 with at least one chronic medical condition.
We are diligently working to turn the process for vaccinating people in Phase 1B over to select CHRISTUS Santa Rosa clinics and outpatient care locations, which are better prepared to provide this type of care to large groups of the public. This will also help our health care workers who continue to provide excellent, compassionate care on the front lines of this pandemic for our patients with COVID and other medical needs.
At this time, vaccination appointments at our clinics for those in Phase 1B are all full. However, we hope to have additional appointments available as early as mid-week. Members of Phase 1B are encouraged to check back regularly for open appointments, as more vaccine supply becomes available from the state. People will be able to visit the CHRISTUS Health website and use an online chat function to sign up for appointments when they are available.
However, we will reach out and share more about how to schedule appointments online when they become available. In the meantime, we ask for patience as we work through this transition and to prioritize those most impacted by this deadly virus.
“Our goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities of vaccine are available. In the meantime, caregivers will closely follow State of Texas guidelines and recommendations for who will be prioritized for administration,” said Marisa Emmons, MD, MHA, FAAFP, Vice President of Clinic Operations, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System and Medical Director, CHRISTUS Physician Group. “At this time, until supplies are increased, only patients with appointments can be accommodated. As soon as appointments are available, we will communicate to our patients and to the public about the proper steps for screening and scheduling those in Tier 1B for vaccines.”
December 30, 2020
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System Responds to Latest Guidance from State of Texas on COVID Vaccine Distribution
As health care providers, we at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System have seen firsthand the effects of COVID-19. We’ve been proud to help so many of our neighbors regain their health after fighting this deadly virus. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen others who did not. We’ve seen families and friends lose loved ones, and those experiences, along with our commitment to our communities and to our mission, make us absolutely dedicated to distributing this potentially lifesaving vaccine.
We are grateful to the State of Texas for allocating the vaccine doses we have to administer, which first arrived at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa on Dec. 17. As a result, we are following the state’s guidelines regarding who can receive them and are working hard to deliver them as effectively and quickly as possible to those groups. Right now, the state has guided us to provide vaccination to health care workers in Phase 1A. We have gone through our initial supplies and still have many more healthcare providers and community first responders yet to vaccinate. Accordingly, this group and other will be our continued focus with the vaccines supplied to our hospital.
We are aware of the guidance provided yesterday by the state encouraging providers to administer vaccines to Phase 1B, including people 65 years of age and older and those with a chronic medical condition. We are working with our primary care and urgent care clinics in San Antonio, which are better prepared to provide this type of care to large groups of the public. We are quickly working through a process that we hope will allow the public to determine if they fit into these groups and, if so, to sign up for an appointment to receive their vaccine. We anticipate that process will be complete some time next week, but ask for patience in the meantime as we work through this transition and to prioritize those most impacted by this deadly virus. We will communicate to our patients and to the public when that time comes, and appreciate the understanding and patience of so many who have served our community during this unprecedented time.
Latest on Important Elective Procedures
CHRISTUS Health is aware of Governor Abbott’s order to restrict elective surgeries in Bexar County, effective 11:59 p.m. on June 26. While we fully appreciate the concerns raised by the increased rate of cases in San Antonio and other areas, we also want to ensure that those in need of care from CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Westover Hills, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Alamo Heights and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio are not unnecessarily harmed or forced to delay needed procedures.
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – New Braunfels and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – San Marcos, as well as our ambulatory surgery centers, remain fully available for elective surgeries needed by patients in the area.
We completely understand and support the governor’s efforts to preserve critical hospital capacity needed to treat possible COVID-19 positive patients. Indeed, for the past several months and continuing today, we have made extensive efforts to ensure the availability of hospital capacity throughout the pandemic. It is also critically important to avoid delaying certain procedures related to heart disease, cancer, vision problems and pain management that could cause undue medical hardships for many patients. In many cases, such procedures not only help to improve a patient’s quality of life, they actually extend the patient’s life. Delaying or deferring these procedures for an extended period of time may also have the adverse effect of causing a surge in non-COVID-19 related illnesses.
For children served by The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, procedures are typically prioritized as emergent or non-emergent. A child with a congenital disease or chronic condition may not realistically be able to wait on their procedure, as the delay may be detrimental to their growth and development. For example, kids needing ear tubes can be negatively affected with recurrent infections, hearing loss and speech delays.
We have designated physician review teams at all our CHRISTUS facilities to closely consider proposed elective procedures to determine what course of action is in the best interest of the patient. Once this has been determined, we will reach out to those with scheduled cases that this team has determined can safely wait through the pause.
It is always our priority to ensure the safety of our patients, Associates and physicians. Our COVID-19 Safe Care Program has played a vital role in promoting safety during the resumption of elective surgeries and procedures. Under this program, our staff have been properly screened and tested as appropriate for COVID-19. We also screen for asymptomatic COVID-19 infection among our Associates, physicians and surgical patients through antibody testing.
For the safety of all patients, Associates and physicians, and in the interest of limiting exposure to respiratory illness associated with COVID-19, we limit visitors at our CHRISTUS Santa Rosa hospitals. We require everyone entering our CHRISTUS Santa Rosa facilities to wear a mask. And we have been able to secure the capacity of PPE needed to safely treat the full spectrum of medical conditions and patient needs.
There is critical work that needs to be done in order to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases in Bexar County, and CHRISTUS Health is here to answer the call to help our community – today and tomorrow. In all that we do, we are devoted to keeping our community, our caregivers and our Associates safe. We are here and ready when you need care.
April 29, 2020
Effective 5/4: To make sure we continue to follow the CDC's recommendation for Universal Masking; we are asking all patients, visitors and employees to wear a mask while visiting our facilities.
Homemade cloth masks are appropriate for visiting our clinics, you can follow instructions to make a safe mask here.
We are committed to ensuring that our clinics continue to be a safe place to receive care – we appreciate your continued support and understanding as we implement these guidelines.
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio to Resume Elective Procedures and Surgeries
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio are preparing to resume elective procedures and surgeries on April 22, consistent with the provisions of the Governor Greg Abbott’s original order on April 17.
Our CHRISTUS Santa Rosa and Children’s Hospital facilities have secured the personal protective equipment (PPE) and excess capacity necessary to safely care for the full spectrum of medical conditions and patient needs that we have worked so hard to address in our communities for more than 150 years.
We are working with physicians now to reschedule their patients for medical and surgical procedures they were forced to postpone due to the initial order. While we all understand the reason these procedures had to be postponed, waiting has imposed a hardship on many of these patients, as many can no longer delay care for heart disease, cancer, pain, vision problems and other conditions. We are working to avoid a surge in illness and suffering as a result of deferred and delayed care.
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is expanding its surgery scheduling to include evening and weekend availability for patients’ convenience and to ensure it is ready to provide care that has been delayed. “With the school year cut short and assignments being done from home, this is an opportune time for children to have the surgeries and procedures they need, giving them ample time to recover before the school year begins in the fall,” said Dr. Charles Hankins, President, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
“For adults, the procedures that have been deferred are often issues that are tied to a patient’s quality of life,” explains Dr. Ian Thompson, President, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center. “Some of these procedures will even help patients to live longer. Because of that, it is important that we get these patients back into our operating rooms when medically necessary, as quickly as we can. However, as we’ve done with each of our past surgeries and procedures throughout our history, we must ensure the safety of our patients, Associates and physicians first,” said Dr. Thompson.
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio practice infection prevention every day, and recently demonstrated that the health system is on the cutting edge of infection prevention for the San Antonio and surrounding communities, by offering antibody testing for some patients, Associates and physicians. This new screening tool allows the hospital to test these groups for antibodies related to the COVID-19 virus, helping identify how each patient and caregiver can participate in a safe and caring environment.
Not only that, but leaders with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa and The Children’s Hospital have been collaborating over the few weeks to put policies and procedures in place to provide necessary, non-COVID related care to keep people safe and healthy. To keep all who enter our facilities safe, CHRISTUS facilities in San Antonio, New Braunfels and San Marcos have taken the following precautions:
- Limiting visitors;
- Screening everyone to include temperature checks who comes through our doors;
- Isolating COVID-19 patients within the facility;
- Requiring everyone on our campuses to wear masks;
- Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so caregivers and support staff may limit the number of times they enter their rooms.
This may be an unprecedented time, but we have experienced many of these since CHRISTUS was founded 154 years ago. In fact, the first three Sisters who started the CHRISTUS ministry in Galveston faced an epidemic of yellow fever within the first six months of opening the very first hospital. Epidemics and tragedies have been part of CHRISTUS’ history, and so too has the resolve, after each of those challenges, to move on in love and service to those in need.
“CHRISTUS is here to answer the call to help our community – today and tomorrow. In all that we do, we are devoted to keeping patients, their families, our caregivers and our Associates safe. And we are here when you need care. We are ready,” Dr. Thompson said.
April 14, 2020
CHRISTUS Health Offers ‘Game Changer’ Antibodies Test for COVID-19
CHRISTUS Health System is first in the communities it serves to offer new screening tool
CHRISTUS Health announced today it is now offering a new screening tool to some patients, as well as doctors, nurses and other CHRISTUS Associates on the frontlines to learn who has been infected with COVID-19—AND—who might now carry protective antibodies.
“CHRISTUS Health is a safe place to receive care, with high-reliability processes and procedures for infection prevention and mitigating the spread of illness,” explained Dr. Sam Bagchi, CHRISTUS Health’s EVP and Chief Clinical Officer. “Beginning today, we are adding the unprecedented additional layer of antibody screening to help survey for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections among patients and caregivers.”
For the last several weeks, the team has quickly assessed the test’s reliability and then deployed the kits to CHRISTUS hospitals and ambulatory sites across the United States and Latin America. The test produces results in approximately 10 minutes and has been validated internally for screening for COVID-19 infections.
“CHRISTUS is the first in our communities, and is leading the nation by using advanced COVID-19 antibody testing to screen people in our facilities to determine if they have had a COVID-19 infection in the past or have one now,” said Dave Benner, PharmD, MS, MHA, FACHE Vice President, Clinical Ancillary Services.
The country’s leading scientists believe antibody-based tests to be essential in the war against COVID-19.
“This would be a game-changer in restarting parts of the economy more quickly and safely,” Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote in an April 1 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.
CHRISTUS will first begin using the test on Associates and caregivers on the frontlines. The rapid screening tool will also be used on hospitalized patients that the clinical team believes may have been infected with COVID-19 as well as patients who are scheduled for an urgent surgery.
“People should not put off urgent and emergent procedures, and should continue to seek the care they need. We know that, regardless of COVID-19, heart attacks and strokes have not stopped. We need to be able to treat people who urgently need to be in an operating room,” said Dr. Bagchi. “With the availability of an antibody test, we can test anyone who comes in for an urgent surgery. This will allow us to reliably know if a patient has COVID-19 before they start having symptoms or might normally be tested.”
This innovative screening solution is in an addition to the ongoing PCR tests many providers, including CHRISTUS, are able to perform. PCR is a laboratory technique known as polymerase chain reaction, and is the current FDA-approved test for diagnosing patients with COVID-19.
This is part of the work that CHRISTUS continues to do every day to keep its facilities safe from the spread of infection. To keep all who enter hospitals and clinics safe we have added the following precautions:
- Limiting visitors;
- Screening everyone who comes through our doors;
- Isolating COVID-19 patients to one area of the facility;
- Random temperature checks for Associates;
- Requiring all Associates and visitors to wear masks;
- Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so their caregivers and support staff limit the number of times they enter their rooms.
- Virtual medicine is now available in every one of the CHRISTUS ministries at christushealth.org/virtual-medicine
The health and safety of our patients, visitors, Associates and our communities remain of utmost importance. Beginning Monday, April 6, patients and visitors will be required to bring their own mask to wear while in our hospitals or outpatient clinics. You can learn more about how to make your own cloth masks by visiting the CDC website. Our health professionals providing care for presumed COVID-19 or known COVID-19 patients are expected to wear N95 respirator masks. Hospitalized patients do not have to wear a mask while in their rooms.
March 21, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.
No Visitation - Effective, Saturday, March 21, 2020
For the safety and health of the community and our ministry, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System is following the CDC guidelines and recommendations to help limit the risk of infectious disease transmission among our patients, Associates, and guests.
This approach is in line with the scientific evidence regarding the spread of these types of diseases, and is meant not to alarm anyone, but to protect us all.
We appreciate your understanding as we implement NO VISITATION effective 3/21/2020.
Only visitors will be allowed for the following circumstances:
- End of life
- Parent of pediatric patients
- Goodbye visit of military personnel departing for deployment.
March 18, 2020 - 1:30 p.m.
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System Updates Visitor Guidelines
Our goal is to ensure our hospitals continue to be a safe place to receive care. We are following new guidelines and want you to be aware of those important changes.
New Visitor Hours
While our emergency department is open 24 hours, visitors will now be guided to enter our hospitals' main entrances during the following hours:
The Children's Hospital of San Antonio
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - Alamo Heights
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - Medical Center
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - New Braunfels
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - Westover Hills
To limit the risk of exposure to our patients, visitors, Associates, physicians and volunteers, there are limitations to the number of visitors per patient.
- Isolation Patients: 1 Visitor
- Medical-Surgery Patients: 1 Visitor
- Same Day Procedure: 1 Visitor
- Critical Care: 1 Visitor
- Labor and Delivery: 1 Support + 1 Visitor
- Pediatrics: 1 Support + 1 Visitor
- NICU: Parents Only
For the safety and health of the community and our ministry, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is currently screening all visitors at our hospitals to help reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission among our patients, Associates and guests.
This approach is in line with current precautions regarding the spread of these types of diseases, and not meant to alarm anyone, but to protect all of us. We will ask visitors the following questions about their travel and health:
- Have you traveled to any of the infected risk areas in the last two weeks?
- Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
March 14, 2020 - 4:30 p.m.
We continue to work in solidarity with our partners in the health care community, city and county leaders, and local health authorities to ensure our community is well prepared. Together, we stand united in our commitment to keep the people we serve safe.
At CHRISTUS, we remain vigilant in responding to this evolving situation, meeting throughout the day to ensure we are prepared to respond to present and potential future needs of our community. We continue to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines for healthcare facilities located in areas, like ours, that are not experiencing community spread. We do have emergency preparedness plans in place and are fully prepared to execute as appropriate for our community circumstances.
CHRISTUS facilities remain a safe place for all to receive quality care. While COVID-19 is new, our processes and procedures in place for infection prevention and preventing the spread of illness are not. From physicians and nurses, quality and safety experts to those responsible for ordering supplies and keeping the hospital clean — all of our Associates are involved in making sure we provide a safe environment for our patients. Every single day.
March 2, 2020
CHRISTUS values the importance of collaboration and coordinated action for the identification and care of those patients exhibiting signs of the COVID-19. Which is why we continue to follow CDC interim guidelines and work non-stop, in partnership with local, state and federal government authorities. We are fortunate to be part of a local health care community committed to responding to the needs of these patients in the safest manner necessary.
In the event that possible coronavirus patients need hospitalization after screening, we have identified a portion of our facility as the best place to allow us to isolate and safely care for any potential patients without risk of transmission to other parts of the facility.
At CHRISTUS, we have always screened patient to our clinical points of access for international travel, to assess for various evolving infectious disease risks, including this one. If a patient meets the current CDC criteria, and is exhibiting symptoms consistent with the virus, we will isolate the patient in a private room and take proper respiratory precautions to safely assess and treat them
If you are ill with fever and cough or shortness of breath and have had travel to any region that has known community spread of coronavirus, please contact your primary care provider before coming to the clinic so we can be sure to provide you with the best care possible while doing everything we can to keep our community healthy.
It’s still flu season. We continue to encourage all our patients and the community to practice good respiratory hygiene habits, like washing hands frequently and covering mouths while coughing especially during times like this where catching the flu is a far greater risk.
In summary, the best things you can do to prevent the spread of illness are:
- Wash your hands well before eating, drinking, or touching your face
- Get your annual flu shot and
- Get a pneumonia shot if you have not already and are above the age of 65 or have diabetes or other illnesses that affect your heart or lungs.
CHRISTUS Health currently convenes daily, sometimes more, to check in on our emergency preparedness plans. We have had many hands on deck during this process. Nearly everyone — from physicians and nurses, quality and safety experts to those responsible for ordering supplies and keeping the hospital clean — is involved in making sure we can do best for our patients our Associates and this community we serve.
For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 visit CDC.gov.