For the News Tribune


KEYSER - WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital’s Emergency Room stands ready to provide the highest level of safety during the CoVID-19 pandemic, according to Michael Gould, DO.


"As the medical director of Emergency Services at Potomac Valley Hospital, I make it my personal responsibility to assure our patients that our Emergency Department is utilizing the highest level of safety and most current evidence-based practice," Gould says.


"While these times are uncertain with the pandemic, its important patients do not ignore their health problems until it’s too late, especially in emergency situations," he added.


Delaying needed treatment for acute and chronic conditions can cause even greater issues in the long run. By delaying treatment, people are seeking care when they are a lot sicker and increasing their chances of needing to be hospitalized. Illnesses that would ordinarily involve a simple treatment can worsen to the point where they require life-saving intervention.


"While the overall Emergency Department and hospital experience might change, like everywhere else in the world, the high quality of care you receive while in the Emergency Department here at PVH remains the same," says Gould.


"We’ve enforced strict infection prevention protocols within the Emergency Department. From the moment you walk in the door until the time you leave, extra precautions are being taken," says Ralph Gumbert, director of the Emergency Department. All patients entering the Emergency Department are screened by a nurse immediately upon arrival. Those patients exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 are placed in dedicated negative pressure rooms. All Emergency Department staff are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and follow strict infection prevention procedures, including enhanced cleaning and tracking procedures. Gumbert continues, "Staff are working hard to provide prompt turnaround times to minimize the need for patients to wait in the waiting area." Chairs in the waiting area are separated, encouraging social distancing recommendations.


The success of the Emergency Department at PVH cannot be denied. The most recent publicly reported patient ratings for the Emergency Department at PVH show that 91% of patients surveyed give an overall rating of 9 or 10 out of 10 possible points.


Furthermore, the average time it takes for patients to see a healthcare provider is approximately ten minutes.


"While we know there are always exceptions, patients generally have a great experience at PVH and our care has greatly improved over the past two years," stated Mark Boucot, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer.


"While we are at a heightened state due to the pandemic, our quality of care continues to improve, as the entire staff is always striving to care for patients like we would care for our own family: That’s our Mission," continued Boucot.


As an added safety measure, a temporary COVID-19 drive-through testing site is operational from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Seneca Lane parking lot across from the hospital. This service allows symptomatic patients, with a valid order from a licensed practitioner, to be tested without having to leave their car.


With this service available, the hospital can address the urgent needs of the patients in the Emergency Department separate from potential COVID-19 patients that do not have symptoms.


Moving forward, Potomac Valley Hospital will be expanding the equipment and systems used throughout the hospital, creating an even safer environment for staff and patients.


"As our knowledge of this novel coronavirus continues to evolve, we will keep updating and improving our procedures to create the safest environment possible for patients and their families," stated Boucot.


"I’m very proud of the staff and how hard they work to care for patients. I’m humbled by how brave our healthcare workers are during this crisis and I’m honored to work beside some of the greatest doctors and caregivers here at PVH."


Potomac Valley Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital in Keyser. The hospital serves the community of Mineral County, West Virginia, and surrounding areas.


PVH officially became a member of the West Virginia University Health System in 2014. PVH provides inpatient and outpatient care, including 24/7 Emergency Department services.


PVH employs more than 250 healthcare professionals, including over 50 physicians, who are dedicated to the mission of striving to treat every patient like a member of their own family.