Keeping Patient Safety a Top Priority

Stories from the Southcoast Frontlines: Elizabeth Ploude

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the world to a crawl and caused people to stay in their homes, many still needed immediate medical attention for sudden illnesses and injuries, as well as continuing care for chronic and other complex conditions they were battling. #SouthcoastFrontlines hero Elizabeth Ploude has served as a leader in the effort to ensure patient safety and comfort when visiting Southcoast facilities and got the appointments they’ve needed. 

Betty, as her friends call her, is an Office Coordinator primarily in the Dartmouth and Fall River Southcoast Health Breast Centers. In this role, she is responsible for scheduling Imaging staff for patients seeking preventative routine screening appointments and diagnostic imaging appointments. She is also a translator for Portuguese patients.

With the onset of the pandemic, Betty quickly got to work rescheduling staff and thousands of patients. Limiting the number of people in the Breast Centers at once helped patient and staff safety. Therefore, significantly reducing the risk of virus transmission within the Breast Centers.  Working tirelessly, she spent long days rescheduling appointments, prioritizing those with current breast issues, and ensuring everyone that they would be seen as soon as possible during this challenging time.

Patient Safety Remains a Top Priority

Patient safety has remained the first priority at the Breast Centers, and extra precautions were put ine place to ensure patients would remain safe while receiving the care they needed. Putting her fears aside, Betty continued going to work each day, knowing that this essential service would help save lives.

As the first person greeting patients in the office, Betty screened each patient by taking their temperature and asking questions. Additional safety measures implemented consisted of everyone wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), Plexiglas shields around the desk, contactless payment, and repeatedly cleaning all surfaces in the waiting area. “I have to say, honestly, at all times, I felt protected,” Betty says. “I knew that our staff took every precaution needed to keep us safe.”

As many patients experienced anxiety coming in at the peak of the pandemic, Betty comforted them, whether over the phone or in the waiting area. She explained the extra precautions put in place to keep them all healthy. “I always treat patients as I would treat my own family; if it were my mom, I would tell her to come in,” Betty says. “It is important to address the problems you have; you don’t want to risk putting off detecting something that could be serious.”

Embracing a ‘Can-Do Attitude’ for the Patients

Betty credits her team at Southcoast Health for motivating her to come in every day during the pandemic. “In the beginning, it was very overwhelming, managing our own fears and the patients as well,” she says. “Knowing my team appreciated and supported the work I do helped to give me a can-do attitude and to continue being there for our patients.”

This past year, Betty has managed to stay healthy and protect her family from the virus. When the pandemic is over, she is looking forward to seeing plays, going out to dinner, and having a big reunion with all 35 members of her family, whom she has greatly missed this year while adjusting to the new normal. She is also excited to return to traveling and hopes to make a trip to the Azores when she can.

Thank you, Betty!

At Southcoast Health, providing safe, exceptional care will always be our top priority, learn more.