Inspira Health Offers Guidance to Local Schools for Providing a Safe Environment for Students and Staff

          Message from John DiAngelo

           President and CEO, Inspira Health





Reflecting on that March day just over four months ago when the first COVID-19 patient was admitted to Inspira, responding to the fear of the unknown is not what health care providers do. Health care providers plan. We learn, we practice, and we seek experts’ counsel. We quickly gathered our clinical experts to tackle the hard questions: How do we treat the COVID-19 patient when there wasn’t yet an definitive best treatment? How do we keep our staff and other patients safe? How do we prepare for the predicted surge of patients into our hospitals?

I am so very grateful for how everyone at Inspira Health sprang into action to do what was needed. We learned so much.

Now, Inspira wants to share what we learned with those school leaders and nurses who are wrestling with how to provide a safe environment for their students and staff.

As Tom Baldosaro, our chief financial officer and lifelong resident of Washington Township said to me, “Over the last several months, I’ve been focused on how Inspira can provide a safe environment for our patients and staff. With that perspective and having a school-age child, I realize the challenge our school administrators face to make the best decisions for the students and staff in this pandemic. If Inspira can help our communities by sharing what we have learned, I hope it contributes to everyone feeling safe, and being safe, in our schools.”

The idea started with Dave Johnson, our vice president of Innovation. A meeting was quickly pulled together with a few school representatives to learn if we could help.

“I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was to meet with you and your entire team this morning. I was so impressed with many things about this meeting, but what really struck me was the sincerity and level of support that has been extended to us,” wrote Barbara Neal, RN, BSN, nurse for grades 11 & 12, Kingsway Regional School District, a participant of this first meeting. “We have been in a number of virtual meetings and webinars, and it seems like afterward I am left feeling a little anxious with more questions than answers.”

“While we are faced with uncertainty and challenges to open our schools, I definitely felt encouraged by our discussion today after having questions answered and solutions offered to some of our immediate concerns. And to have Inspira assist us in purchasing the PPE we need is so appreciated.”

This feedback confirmed the need for a Virtual Town Hall for School Administrators and Nurses which Inspira hosted on Friday, July 17. Among others, the Inspira panelists included Evelyn Balogun, M.D., our medical director of Urgent Care and Occupational Health; Joe Kauffman, director of Occupational Health Services; and Megan Anastasia, RN, BSN, Infection Control and Prevention.

We learned that the challenges to the schools are not so very different than what we face: adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); adequate sanitizer and supplies; staffing; screening; testing; contact tracing; and transportation.

The meeting also covered: options for telehealth; need for rapid testing; return to work/return to school policies for those who have been sick with COVID-19; and the proper way to wear a mask.

The school administrators and nurses were also invited to consult, as needed, with the Inspira Emergency Operations Center. Established on March 16 and still in operation, this core group provides 24/7 monitoring of Inspira’s plan implementation. Gathered around the table are experts from Supply Chain Management, Infection Control, Employee Health and Emergency Management. The more than 100 participants from schools in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties were actively engaged in the discussion and asked thoughtful questions, pledging to do whatever was needed to provide a safe environment in our community’s schools.

Let’s continue to be a good example to our children and grandchildren. Practice social distancing, wash your hands often, and wear a mask. If there is one thing we know for sure, these actions successfully reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.