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Healthwatch 16: Coronavirus changes

The pandemic has forced Geisinger and other health care providers to look at new ways of helping patients.

DANVILLE, Pa. — It's safe to say that COVID-19 has changed almost everything about the way we live our lives. Hospitals are having to pivot to deal with those changes, too, and officials know things could continue to change as the pandemic goes on.

We spoke to Stephanie Gryboski, Geisinger's senior director of emergency management, about their strategies.

"We help mitigate and respond to adverse events in our health care system. For the past seven months, that has been COVID and its effect on our operations," Gryboski said. "Actually, we began planning for this in January, when we first started hearing about it in the news. What would we do? Taking some of our old policies, dusting them off, figuring out how they'd be applicable today."

"At the beginning of this, we had a few more thousand people working from home than traditionally do. Now we're looking at, is it feasible for them to continue to work from home and thereby allow us to social distance better in certain offices?" Gryboski said. "Telemedicine is something we were able to leverage very early. We had a lot of adopters. Going forward, there will be an increase in the need for telemedicine, not just at Geisinger but globally."

Gryboski says, for now, they'll continue to keep as many people working from home as possible and continue to offer telemedicine as a way for providers to care for their patients as the pandemic goes on.