Terrebonne General Medical Center Takes Care of the Community During Unprecedented Times

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If it wasn’t apparent before, the COVID-19 pandemic showed how vital hospitals are to the community.

With many becoming overwhelmed with patients, healthcare facilities had to adapt during unprecedented times to ensure the safety of their staff and patients while finding innovative ways to treat the novel coronavirus.

“This is what we do best and when our staff shines the most, when we take care of our patients and our community during their most difficult times,” said President and CEO of Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) Phyllis Peoples in March — when the pandemic hit the Bayou Region.

“Healthcare is a calling and it takes amazing people to do what our physicians and staff are specially trained to do while handling all types of emergency situations, as well as providing the highest quality care,” she continued.

Although COVID-19 presented a new challenge, TGMC was ready to respond, as the hospital engages in emergency preparedness training year-round.

To minimize the spread, TGMC follows the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommended infection prevention and control practices: placing any patient with known or suspected COVID-19 in a separate location, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare personnel and educating the staff, patients and community on proper hand hygiene.

Additionally, TGMC made modifications to the physical plant, screens employees and visitors, provides COVID-19 tests to the community, created negative pressure rooms, implemented additional security measures, heightened cleaning and sanitizing equipment, provided readiness programs for schools and businesses and introduced state-of-the-art technology.

Because testing is in such high demand, it became a top priority for TGMC, as adequate tests continue to be available for its patients and community.  The medical center offers drive-through COVID-19 testing with same-day results and plans to expand testing.

At press time in mid-October, TGMC has invested more than $5 million in improvements for the medical center since the pandemic started to keep its staff and community prepared for COVID-19.

“We have taken every measure possible to ensure our COVID-19 readiness, preparedness and safety both inside and outside the walls of our hospital,” said J. Louis Watkins III, TGMC Board Chairman. “We remain committed to making future investments to be proactive in the care that we provide.”

“In the worst times, the best in people prevail. Our local community was no exception.  The ‘Unity in our Community’ was never as strong as it was during the beginning of this pandemic.  We could not have gotten through the worst of this without the prayers, well wishes, delicious meals and kind words of our community,” Peoples added. “A huge thank you for their unwavering support and outpouring of love to our physicians and staff.”

Making strides in healthcare despite dealing with a pandemic

It’s been a noteworthy year for Terrebonne General, not just because of the coronavirus pandemic but also due to the strives it has made in healthcare.

This past summer, TGMC became the first and only facility in the state to utilize the new Computed Tomography (CT) scanner, the GE Revolution Frontier Gen 2 — technology that makes diagnostic imaging safer and faster for patients while using low doses of radiation to create high-quality images.

“Our new CT scanner allows us to continue to improve lives through world-class diagnostic imaging,” Peoples said of the device. “By using the most advanced technology in the state, patient safety and comfort will be improved while our medical providers receive the highest quality images possible to be confident in their diagnoses and treatment plans.”

With everyone doing their part to flatten the curve in 2020, the health care facility introduced TGMC Telehealth, allowing patients to visit with physicians and nurse practitioners from the safety of their home via live video conferencing through MyChart on smartphone or tablet.

And the medical center didn’t stop there with implementing video streaming technology.

TGMC Women’s Health Center now has NICVIEW 2, letting parents of a hospitalized newborn view their loved one on a 24/7 livestream as they receive care in the region’s only Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In September, the hospital also began offering its in-house patients MyChart Bedside, a tablet-based application that delivers real-time information to its patients during their stay. It allows them to keep track of their daily schedule, learn more about members of their treatment team, take notes, make non-urgent requests, monitor their recent vitals and labs and review educational materials assigned by the nurse, and it also features entertainment options.

As the number of patients needing cardiac care continues to grow, TGMC is expanding its cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology services this year, adding a new catheterization laboratory (Cath lab) and expanding the electrophysiology room (EP).

With the additional Cath lab, the medical center will offer four state-of-the-art rooms, each equipped with the latest technology such as the Alphenix Dual Plane for flexibility and patient safety. This innovation will provide physicians and medical personnel with imaging that allows clinicians to see fine details during complex interventional procedures. The new technology will also offer dose optimizing tools to help minimize radiation exposure to patients and technicians.

Electrophysiology is the study of the heart’s electrical system, which is used to diagnose irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia. For the EP expansion, a separate room was built to accommodate the increasing patient volume, and it will include the Alphenix Core + and Alphenix Hi-Def Detector, a quality high definition detector.  The expansion will make TGMC the only facility in the region to offer a dedicated EP Lab.

“As demand for cardiac services increases, TGMC continues to be committed to providing state-of-the-art amenities to our physicians and the patients we serve,” Peoples said when the additions were announced in June. “With the additional space and innovative technology, our patients can rest assured that they do not need to travel far for excellent cardiac care.”

Along with the innovative technology it brought to the facility this year, TGMC also welcomed more physician specialists to their team. Dr. Sindhura Bandaru, endocrinologist; Dr. Navin Kumar Durairajan, pulmonary and critical care specialist; and Dr. Dominique Monlezun, internal medicine/hospitalist all joined the hospital staff.

In 2020, the Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center expanded its oncology team and added four oncology experts, Dr. Jitendra Gandhi, Dr. Janeiro Goffin and Dr. Sukesh Manthri, medical oncologists; and Dr. Ashley S. Brown, radiation oncologist. In addition, Allison Cazenave, CSO, specialist in oncology nutrition — only one of seven in the state — joined the team to provide nutrition counseling and support for patients undergoing treatment.    

“Looking back over the last year, I have

immense pride and appreciation for our TGMC family; we call them our ‘Healthcare Heroes’ for their tenacity during this unprecedented time. Healthcare is truly a calling that requires great passion, and I am so very proud of our physicians and staff for all that they do each and every day to take care of our community when they need us the most,” Peoples said. “Moving forward, TGMC will continue to stay on the forefront of healthcare by providing the most innovative products and services that offer our patients modern solutions to improving their health and wellness.”