News Releases

ACCESS Magazine Feature - Women on the Frontlines | Dr. Cynthia Crowder-Hicks

Monday, June 1, 2020

By: Hayley Hill of ACCESS Magazine
Meet Dr. Cynthia R. Crowder Hicks. In normal times she’s the medical director of the Sleep Lab at Mobile Infirmary and works in pulmonary medicine as well at the Diagnostic and Medical Clinic. Identified as a leader in caring for local COVID-19 patients, Dr. Crowder Hicks shares what the new normal looks like on the frontlines.
For most, a pandemic was unthinkable. And it was for Dr. Crowder Hicks, too. “I was the first pulmonary physician designated to cover the COVID-19 ward,” she says. “The beginning was truly an experience. With a set of scrubs and protective equipment, I changed and proceeded to my station where everyone looks the same: hair coverings, face masks, booties, and scrubs. Each patient’s door draped in isolation dressings, I only see the eyes of my staff. They are eager and frustrated. However, in the midst of it all, they showed up willing to serve,” she shares. 
Asked how a hospital could turn on a dime to quickly jump into pandemic-fighting action, Dr. Crowder Hicks says, “As the virus began to spread, it was evident we were experiencing a pandemic. Fortunately, Alabama began to see the virus later, which allowed time for preparation. A COVID critical care task force was established and meetings were held at our Diagnostic and Medical Clinic and at Mobile Infirmary,” she explains. The task force is comprised of the critical care physicians, anesthesiologist, internists, surgeons, neurosurgeons, nursing administrators, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, and hospital administrators who work diligently on plans to care for patients presenting with the COVID virus. “Working on worst case scenarios, the plan included physicians being on staff in 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day,” Dr. Crowder Hicks says. “With Individual medical specialties eliminated, our goal is to care for patients and minimize unnecessary staff exposure and fatigue.”
As a COVID-task force leader, Dr. Crowder Hicks recalls those first steps into the COVID-19 unit. “As I rounded the hallways and made my way into the medical intensive care unit, the staff knew me, but I knew they were getting ready to know me better than ever before,” she starts. “‘Let’s huddle,’ I began. As I explained the plan, there was an immediate sense of relief. Typically, nurses are used to handling emergencies until a doctor arrives. With the new around-the-clock physicians on hand plan, there was an immediate sense of hope and appreciation. That night, my nurse practitioner joined me, and we huddled with each unit, hearing those sighs of relief each time.”
While clearly humbled, we wonder the vibe in the COVID-19 unit and how she motivates her team. “I always try to keep a positive attitude,” she says. “There is a reason to smile and laugh every day, and I look for those openings. In general, my overall disposition remains positive, even during the frustrations. I definitely try to acknowledge concerns and offer words of encouragement to motivate them to push forward,” she shares. “So far, I think the team is coping well. For us, loss is not unfamiliar. I think we struggle with the ‘why.’ There are so many unknowns regarding this virus and the disease process. We are constantly thinking and reading to see if we can prevent further losses. As for our emotional state, we may need to revisit this after the pandemic has ended,” she says.
 
Not having exhausted their ventilator capacity, their influx of patients has been steady, but not to the degree of cities like New Orleans and New York. “This virus has so many unknowns,” Dr. Crowder Hicks says. “Every patient is different. Some look chronically ill and slowly improve, and others look good and rapidly decline. You see oxygen requirements escalate in those not seemingly as ill. Temperatures rise. Blood pressures become unpredictable. Breathing appears dysfunctional and ineffective. Things move very fast. This is when the basics of medicine begin. All taught the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation), this is where we start and work as a team to stabilize the patient.” Dr. Crowder Hicks says it’s at this point that her senses become heightened but acknowledges how important it is to keep her emotions controlled. “I think better that way,” she says. “The patient is intubated; adequate IV access obtained. Now, we work to improve oxygenation and optimize blood pressure and circulation. Each organ system is reviewed and addressed. Despite being on the ventilator, we must continue to assess and reassess. It becomes methodical. However, there is a level of anxiety in all arenas. All of our personnel have had to step up in different ways to assure the safety of patients and staff as we proceed,” Dr. Crowder Hicks shares.
On the subject of patients, she says, “Each patient has a different mindset. Those who are ill want help. They are grateful. Those not as sick just want to get better. Most patients assume we’re positive just as we assume they’re positive. It makes for a good working environment,” she says. “Also, despite all the medical paraphernalia, patients just want to talk. A calming voice or a soothing pat on the leg goes a long way.”
Reflecting, she adds, “Recently, I was approached by a colleague regarding a patient of mine who had been sick a few days. On the phone, the patient was audibly breathless. Concerned, she agreed to be seen at the screening tent and was immediately admitted into the hospital. She appeared weak but vocal. She has the sweetest disposition and is always helpful and kind. Unfortunately, she declined and required mechanical ventilation. In general, this portends to a worse outcome. Fortunately, after prolonged time on a ventilator, she was able to be extubated. She continued to slowly improve, and the day of her discharge was a day of incredible celebration,” she shares.
Originally from Memphis and with a life-long long love for science and math, Dr. Crowder Hicks has always been surrounded by a family of educators and givers. “We’ve always been active participants in our church, community, and schools,” she says. “My path of service came through medicine, as it speaks to me personally and intellectually. It makes me happy.”
And how about her life with her husband Timothy, daughter Camille (3), and stepson Kendell (14)? “I completely isolated from my family,” she says. “This proved to be more stressful for all involved. After long discussions, we decided it was best for me to take the necessary precautions to return home. Fortunately, I have a detached room where I can shower and leave worn clothes before entering my home. So far, we’re all healthy,” she shares.
Grateful for her husband, Dr. Crowder Hicks beams, “He’s assumed the role of not just parent, but primary homemaker, preschool teacher, playmate, shopper, and chef. I thank him for packing my lunches and making my breakfast and dinner. I find great joy in family time and walks. These lead to great conversations and I hope to keep it up after this is over,” she shares. Both transplants, Dr. Crowder Hicks says her husband’s and her own extended family is not close by. “They’ve offered to assist, but in the spirit and order of social distancing, we try to respect all boundaries,” she shares. “This means it's just us! However, I truly appreciate their calls and texts of support. Also, my recent ZOOM meeting with college sisters was an awesome source of stress relief,” she says.
Looking forward to family dinners and attending church services once the virus passes, her No. 1 way we can help is simple: “The only consistent model of flattening the curve has been social distancing. This is how everyone helps,” she concludes. As for us? Dr. Crowder Hicks, we thank you for being in the trenches, for your sacrifices, and for your leadership¬. You may know how many lives you’ve helped save, but you will never know the number of lives you’ve touched.
Article originally printed in the May issue of ACCESS Magazine. The full publication can be viewed at: https://issuu.com/foxlitho/docs/60140_access_may_2020

Infirmary Health receives its first allocation of Remdesivir to treat COVID-19

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Media Contact: 

Mobile, Ala. – Infirmary Health is now able to treat a limited number of COVID-19 patients with the experimental drug, Remdesivir. This allocation was made possible through a donation from Gilead Sciences Inc. facilitated by the federal government and Alabama Department of Public Health. Infirmary Health will utilize it to treat the most critical COVID-19 patients at Mobile Infirmary and Thomas Hospital.

For several weeks, Infirmary Health has contacted members of the state and federal governments with requests for Remdesivir. Last week, the system was asked to submit a request for the drug to ADPH based on the number of patients who meet the treatment criteria. With the donation received, Infirmary Health physicians will administer the drug to a limited number of patients who qualify and are the most critical of need. Our physicians and administration will continue to work with the ADPH to provide necessary information for future allocations as they are made available.

“Infirmary Health has stood as the healthcare leader across the Gulf Coast throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Mark Nix, President & CEO Infirmary Health. “Like with convalescent plasma, we are excited to care for our patients with the most advanced treatment options available. We have seen strong success from the convalescent plasma program and hope to see the same or better results from Remdesivir as well.”

Infirmary Health greatly appreciates the support from across the state to help care for the most critical COVID-19 patients through the Remdesivir treatment, particularly from Congressman Bradley Byrne and his staff. Infirmary Health’s hospitals, clinics and affiliates consistently pursue new treatment opportunities to care for its patients, staff and communities and maintain its stature as the FIRST CHOICE for healthcare in the region.

If you are ill and believe you may have COVID-19, please call 251-341-2819 for more information.

Infirmary Health chief medical officers advise community to remain vigilant as safe-at-home order is relaxed

Monday, May 11, 2020
Media Contact: 

Mobile, Ala. – Bill Admire, D.O., VP Chief Medical Officer Mobile Infirmary & North Baldwin Infirmary, and Michael McBrearty, M.D., VP Chief Medical Officer Thomas Hospital, advise the community to remain cautious with regard to COVID-19. Beginning Monday, May 11, many of the measures included in Governor Kay Ivey’s Safer-At-Home order have been relaxed. Infirmary Health, along with other healthcare organizations across Alabama and the country, urges our community members to remain vigilant and cautious in order to protect themselves against COVID-19.

As we see inside our hospitals and throughout Mobile and Baldwin Counties, COVID-19 is still very much present and spreading across Alabama. Infirmary Health is encouraging community members to, when possible, continue to work, see friends, worship and gather virtually at home. Staying home, except in the case of emergency, is the greatest defense you have to protect yourself and your family.

If you do go out, it is still important to follow health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
·              Always wear a mask
·              Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds
·              Disinfect things you touch, and don’t touch what you don’t have to
·              Stay at least 6 feet away from others
·              Avoid large groups

Infirmary Health understands that social distancing has not be easy, but it has been effective in slowing the spread of the virus. However, if community members do not continue to social distance, Alabama could experience even greater health and economic consequences from a second wave of the virus.

Our elected officials weigh many factors in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, including economic, legal and healthcare implications. It is important to note that revised stay-at-home guidance does encourage social distancing as we begin to reopen. When it comes to a gradual reopening and following safety guidelines, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

As a community member, the decisions you make during this active pandemic affect you, your loved ones and everyone around you. So please, as we work our way back toward a more normal life, consider the health and safety of others and keep aggressive social distancing a part of your life.

Infirmary Medical Clinics resuming in-office patient visits

Friday, May 1, 2020
Media Contact: 

Mobile, Ala. – Infirmary Medical Clinics (IMC) serve the entire Gulf Coast region with more than 50 medical clinic locations covering more than 20 specialties. In response to COVID-19, IMC put guidelines in place to ensure the health of its patients and staff, which included utilizing telemedicine and restricting in-office patient visits.
Beginning Monday, May 4, Infirmary Medical Clinics will increase the number of patients seen in the office on a limited, by appointment only basis. With continued vigilance in response to COVID-19, the clinics request that patients adhere to the following guidelines:
• All patients will be screened prior to entering the facility. This includes a fever screen and questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms.
• Patients will be required to wear a mask during their appointment. If the patient does not already have a mask, one will be provided for you.
• Guests will not be allowed. Exceptions are made for pediatric patients and in the case of a necessary caregiver for adult patients.
• Furniture in the waiting rooms will be reduced to adhere to the recommended guidelines from the CDC regarding social distancing.
• If the size of waiting room limits the ability of patients to be distanced, patients may be asked to wait in their car or asked to wait in an exam room.
Each office will continue to follow stringent sanitation procedures for all areas. Physicians will continue to provide telemedicine on an as-needed basis. Lastly, due to the unique nature of each clinic’s practices other measures may be adopted. Please contact your physician’s office directly with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
Testing for COVID-19 will be available on an as needed basis. If you have fever, shortness of breath or coughing, we encourage you to contact your primary care physician to discuss setting up an appointment to be screened. You can also call 251-435-1106 if you have additional questions about COVID-19 testing.
A complete list of Infirmary Medical Clinics impacted by these changes.
Cardio-Thoracic and Vascular Surgical Associates (All locations)
251-471-3544
Central Baldwin Physicians
251-947-2000
Coastal Medical Group (All locations)
251-929-3424
Diagnostic and Medical Clinic (All locations)
251-435-1200
Eastern Shore Family Practice
251-626-1175
Eastern Shore Women’s Health
251-279-3794
Family Medical of Mobile | Semmes
251-649-6112
Family Medical of Mobile | West
251-666-8232
Gulf Coast Gastroenterology
251-990-0360
Infirmary Occupational Health | Water Street
251-433-3781
Infirmary Occupational Health | Daphne
251-625-8222
Infirmary Occupational Health | HWY 90
251-660-7676
Infirmary Pediatrics
251-435-5437
Infirmary Surgical Specialists | Mobile
251-433-5557
Infirmary Surgical Specialists | Fairhope
251-990-9191

Infirmary Surgical Specialists | Springhill
251-438-4440
Infirmary Surgical Specialists | Foley
251-943-1045
Mobile Bay OB-GYN Center
251-435-7900
Infirmary Neurosurgery
251-435-6850
North Baldwin Family Medicine and Obstetrics
251-937-5377
North Baldwin Internal Medicine
251-937-7910
North Baldwin Pediatrics
251-580-8475
North Baldwin Primary Plus
251-937-7100
Premier Women’s Health
251-937-2380
Rehabilitation Specialists
251-435-6850
Women’s Health Alliance of Mobile
251-435-7700

Infirmary Health opens elective procedures beginning Friday, May 1

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mobile, Ala. – Per the direction received from Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Infirmary Health elective surgical procedures will reopen beginning Friday, May 1. This includes procedures scheduled for the following locations:

  • Mobile Infirmary (beginning Monday, May 4; outpatient only)
  • North Baldwin Infirmary (beginning Friday, May 1)
  • Thomas Hospital (beginning Friday, May 1)
  • Thomas Medical Center (beginning Friday, May 1)
  • Infirmary Eastern Shore (beginning Friday, May 1)

All patients who are scheduled for surgery will be required to be tested for COVID-19 prior to their procedure date. Those patients who receive a positive COVID-19 test or are showing COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to have surgery. If you are scheduled for surgery, an Infirmary Health representative will contact you with instructions on when and where to receive your test. If you are a patient and need more information on scheduling a procedure, please contact your physician’s office directly.

To maintain the safety of all patients and staff, the Infirmary Health surgical teams have implemented new policies and procedures for the pre-admissions area, operating rooms and recovery areas, including increased sterilization between all cases. Additionally, all Infirmary Health employees, including admissions and other ancillary departments, are required to wear masks and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. Patients should not delay an elective procedure due to concerns about COVID-19 unless instructed by their physician. Delaying a procedure could negatively impact the condition of the patient’s health.

Infirmary Health’s restricted visitor policy will remain in place until further notice. For more information on Infirmary Health’s revised policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit infirmaryhealth.org. We understand that many of these revisions are outside of normal routine, and we appreciate our staff’s, patients’ and community’s cooperation during this state of emergency.

Infirmary Health’s emergency departments are open for full service to patients

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mobile, Ala. – Emergency services at Infirmary Health remain fully operational to all patients. Infirmary Health is dedicated to keeping all patients who enter our facilities safe, including those who are coming for needs not related to COVID-19. Our five full-service emergency departments are here to serve the emergent health needs of our communities 24 hours, seven days a week.

Patients who present to the emergency departments at Mobile Infirmary, Mobile Infirmary Emergency – Saraland, North Baldwin Infirmary, Thomas Hospital or Thomas Hospital Emergency—Malbis are screened for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms and provided a mask prior to entering the facilities. Those with COVID-19 symptoms are isolated from the rest of the patient population to minimize exposure and protect all patients and staff. All waiting rooms have been reconfigured to maintain the 6-feet social distancing guidelines. Additionally, each hospital has its own COVID-19 isolation unit, so those patients who may be admitted for non-COVID-19 related ailments will be protected inside the hospital.

“Our goal is to ensure our communities that they are safe when coming to our emergency departments for care,” states Mark Nix, President & CEO of Infirmary Health. “We are committed to protecting and caring for all patients who enter our facilities and want those who have emergent medical needs to feel safe coming here. We have taken every precaution in separating the COVID-19 patients from the rest of the population, in properly and regularly sanitizing all of our facilities and in donning the appropriate personal protective equipment to protect ourselves and our patients.”

If you are experiencing an emergent medical need, including heart attack, stroke or other significant health issues, do not delay in seeking medical attention. Putting off medical care can greatly impact the outcome of your health condition. Now, more than ever, Infirmary Health is more dedicated to your LIFE.

###

Mobile Infirmary Emergency
Phone: 251-435-2400
Address: 5 Mobile Infirmary Circle, Mobile, AL 36607

Mobile Infirmary Emergency – Saraland
Phone: 251-435-2400
Address: 95 Shell Street, Building B, Saraland, AL 36571

North Baldwin Infirmary Emergency
Phone: 251-937-5521
Address: 1815 Hand Avenue, Bay Minette, AL 36507

Thomas Hospital Emergency
Phone: 251-928-2375
Address: 750 Morphy Avenue, Fairhope, AL 36532

Thomas Hospital Emergency – Malbis
Phone: 251-279-5400
Address: 29487 AL-181, Daphne, AL 36526

Infirmary Health launches convalescent plasma donation program to treat sickest COVID-19 patients

Monday, April 27, 2020
Media Contact: 

Mobile, Ala. – Infirmary Health is now the first healthcare system in the region to begin harvesting convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 (coronavirus) patients. Twelve patients, including several physicians, who successfully recovered from COVID-19 have agreed to donate their plasma to help heal other COVID-19 patients who are still in the hospital.

In early April, Infirmary Health received approval from the Food & Drug Administration and the Mayo Clinic to engage in this clinical trial. Through April 27, Infirmary Health physicians and leaders have screened more than 70 potential donors and have identified 12 candidates who were willing to participate. An additional 24 candidates have agreed to donate plasma pending a negative test result for COVID-19. One individual’s plasma donation can treat up to three patients. Plasma donations will go to the most critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“We are thrilled to launch the Convalescent Plasma Protocol at Infirmary Health,” states Furhan Yunus, M.D., FACP, Physician Director Infirmary Cancer Care. “In many ways, we have relied on our community for support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, there is an opportunity for those who have had the virus to contribute potentially life-saving treatment to our patients. Infirmary Health is dedicated to providing our communities with the most innovative and advanced treatment options available, and this program illustrates that.”

Infirmary Health’s hospitals, clinics and affiliates continue to serve the Mobile and Baldwin County communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The health system consistently pursues new treatment opportunities and equipment donations, including ventilators and personal protective equipment, to care for its patients, staff and communities. While the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, the physicians and patients participating in this effort have exhibited an extraordinary willingness to potentially save the lives of other patients in our communities.

Read more about how to donate to Infirmary Health's convalescent plasma program here

Infirmary Health Continues COVID-19 Testing 4/9-4/15

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

For patients showing symptoms of COVID-19, Infirmary Health will host appointment-only drive through testing sites Thursday, April 9 through Wednesday, April 15. Site locations vary by day but will cover Mobile and Baldwin counties.

To schedule an appointment to be tested, please call the Infirmary Health COVID-19 testing hotline at 251-341-2819. The hotline is open daily from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Appointments are limited, and the registered nurse performing the initial screening on the phone will determine whether patients need to be tested for COVID-19 based on CDC criteria. Please see below for more information.

These COVID-19 drive through testing sites are separate from the Diagnostic & Medical Clinic Medical Evaluation sites. For more information on DMC’s Medical Evaluation sites, please call 251-435-1106.

 

Infirmary Health will host appointment-only drive through testing sites on Monday, March 30, and Tuesday, March 31

Friday, March 27, 2020

For patients showing symptoms of COVID-19, Infirmary Health will host appointment-only drive through testing sites on Monday, March 30, and Tuesday, March 31. To schedule an appointment to be tested, please call the Infirmary Health COVID-19 testing hotline at 251-341-2819. The hotline will be open daily from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. until Sunday, March 29. Appointments are limited, and the registered nurse performing the initial screening on the phone will determine whether patients need to be tested for COVID-19 based on CDC criteria. Please see attached for more information.

These COVID-19 drive through testing sites are separate from the Diagnostic & Medical Clinic Medical Evaluation sites. For more information on DMC’s Medical Evaluation sites, please call 251-435-1106. 

Diagnostic and Medical Clinic evaluating all symptomatic persons beginning Monday, March 30

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Mobile, Ala. — Diagnostic and Medical Clinic (DMC), an affiliate of Infirmary Health, in cooperation with the City of Mobile, will have evaluations for individuals with fever, cough or trouble breathing beginning Monday, March 30 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Screenings will take place at 1700 Springhill Ave. and 831 C Hillcrest Road in Mobile.

Existing DMC and non-DMC patients who are exhibiting symptoms can be evaluated by a physician at these evaluation sites. Patients will be screened for infections such as cold, flu or strep. If deemed necessary by CDC and ADPH guidelines, they may be tested for COVID-19. Patients must be showing one of the following symptoms to be seen by a physician: fever, cough or shortness of breath.

If you are not symptomatic, stay at home, and do not come to the screening locations. If you have questions about whether or not you need to be screened, call the DMC Hotline at
251-435-1106. The hotline is staffed with DMC clinicians, and patients can leave a message if the line is busy or it is after clinic hours.

You do not need to be an existing patient of DMC to be seen. However, appointments are required. To make an appointment, please call 251-435-1106. Please be prepared to present valid ID and insurance information.

The City of Mobile will be providing support to DMC in this effort. We appreciate their support to help us care for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diagnostic and Medical Clinic is the largest private multi-specialty clinic in the state of Alabama. They have been serving the Gulf Coast region for over 70 years with more than 80 physicians, 20 specialties and with eight locations across the area. For more information on their specialties, please visit diagnosticandmedical.com. If you have questions or concerns about an existing appointment with a DMC physician, please call 251-435-1200.

Pages