Communities make preparations for COVID-19

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

News of the pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been worldwide. Arkansas and Missouri have patients who have tested positive for the virus.

Throughout this issue you will find a number of press releases detailing the postponement, cancellations, etc. related to the pandemic. President Donald Trump encouraged groups of 10 or less on a press conference on Monday, March 16. The numbers are changing every day, so please keep in mind Areawide Media has weekly products. For up to date information and closings, please check our Facebook page, Areawide Media.

In Arkansas, as of our press time on Tuesday, March 17 at 2 p.m., 22 cases had been confirmed. These patients are residents of Jefferson, Saline, Garland, Pulaski and Cleburne counties. Cleveland, Desha and Lincoln counties were added to the list most recently.

ADH has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about the novel coronavirus. During normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), urgent and non-urgent calls, please call 1-800-803-7847. After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response, please call 501-661-2136.

Arkansas schools were all closed, per Gov. Asa Hutchinson, effective Tuesday, March 17 through March 30. At that time, the situation will be re-evaluated and it will be determined if school should reconvene at that time.

Missouri Governor Mike Parsons had not ordered school closures at the time of press.

In Missouri, eight positive cases have been identified. Those patients are residents of St. Louis County (3), Greene County (3) and Henry County (1). “The location of the newest case will be announced soon as public health professionals make notifications,” said the Health and Senior Services website. Cass County, located in the western part of the state and part of the Kansas City area, was the most recent location of a positive test.

Local hospitals and nursing home facilities have limited visits in order to protect patients.

Fulton County Hospital

In conjunction with the Department of Health, Fulton County Hospital is dedicated to doing our part to prevent the spread of Covid-19. While the hospital has NOT had a case of Covid-19, the facility is dedicated to protecting our patients; therefore, a strict visitation policy has been enacted. The policy went into effect March 13. Our hospital is taking the following precautionary measures:

Medically screening all visitors to Fulton County Hospital.

Medically screening all employees of Fulton County Hospital.

Restricting entrances to the facility.

Limiting the number of visitors to one visitor per patient.

Visiting hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

No visitors under the age of 18.

Providing ongoing training to staff.

Fulton County Hospital would like to ask for the Community’s help in preventing the spread of Covid-19 by staying home when sick, wash hands with soap frequently, avoid people who are sick, avoid large gatherings, and practice social distancing. If you have travel plans, check the CDC travel website prior to travel.

We are thankful for the community support to help us stop the spread of this illness. We are working diligently to provide the best possible standard of care to our patients during this uncertain time.

Baxter Regional Medical Center

Baxter Regional Medical Center is closely monitoring the confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Arkansas and is moving to take additional safety precautions. While there are no known exposures for any Baxter Regional patients or employees, these elevated precautions have been established with the health and safety of patients and employees as their top concern.

Since the reported case in Arkansas, Baxter Regional is taking the following steps to keep you and your community safe from infection:

A COVID-19 Taskforce has been assembled and will meet daily (Monday-Friday).

All access points into Baxter Regional Medical Center will be restricted to the flowing entrances:

Main Entrance (Open Monday-Friday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Medical Arts Entrance (Open Monday-Friday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Emergency Room Entrance (Open 24/7 all days of the week).

All patients and visitors will be temperature screened at the entrances mentioned above before they will be granted access into the facility.

In the interest of keeping patients safe and in preparation for COVID-19 all non-essential visitors at Baxter Regional Medical Center are suspended from entering the facility (limit 2 visitors per patient over the age of 12, to be designated by the patient) until further notice.

Baxter Regional will continue to communicate regularly with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an effort to share resources and information pertaining to COVID-19. Collaboration between various community officials and leaders will be ongoing to ensure that patients and employees remain safe and informed.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 from Baxter Regional go to: https://www.baxterregional.org.

Ozarks Medical Center

Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) has implemented a higher level of restrictions as of March 16, to continue to help reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19 throughout the community. OMC joins many other healthcare organizations in proactively deploying these restrictions as recommended by the CDC and the Missouri Department of Health.

As of March 16, the restrictions include:

1. All patients and visitors will be required to enter the hospital through a single entrance located through the doors on the North side of the building beside the emergency department.

2. No one under the age of 18, who is not seeking treatment, will be allowed in the hospital.

3. Each patient will be limited to one visitor per patient, per day.

4. OMC Pharmacy Drive-thru will be the only location open for pharmacy services.

The existing restrictions put into place on March 13, are still in effect when visiting any OMC facility.

5. Anyone who has had a fever or who has felt sick within the previous 24 hours, and is not receiving treatment, should avoid visiting all OMC facilities for the protection of others including the hospital, and outpatient clinics.

6. Anyone with a scheduled appointment at an OMC facility should attend alone unless extra assistance is needed. Everyone should check their temperature before arriving at a facility. If they experience a fever before arrival, please call to reschedule.

“If you have questions about symptoms or exposure, please call Missouri’s dedicated COVID-19 hotline. If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person know to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with an ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider for guidance,” says Dr. Curtis Horstman, Medical Director of OMC Emergency Department. “Patients that need to be seen for emergencies and that also have a fever, are asked to call before their arrival, so that we may properly isolate them.”

OMC continues to operate at full capacity to meet the needs of the communities they serve. These proactive steps are put in place to limit the possible transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses. OMC will continue to provide care to all who seek treatment at their facilities.

If you have questions about exposure or symptoms, please call 877-435-8411 to be screened before going to the emergency department or your primary care provider.

White River Health System

WRHS focuses on the health and well-being of our patients, visitors, employees, and communities through promotion of wellness, illness prevention, and education. 

Temperature Screening

All WRHS facilities are screening visitors and employees for respiratory illness. Visitors with a fever (99.9 or above) will not be allowed to visit. Temperature checks and screening questions follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) due to the significant increase in influenza cases in our community and the global concern of coronavirus.

At White River Medical Center (WRMC), visitors should use the East, North (Women’s Center), or West (ER) entrance. At Stone County Medical Center (SCMC), visitors are asked to use the Emergency Department entrance.

Visiting Hours

Hospital visiting hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Patients may have two visitors at a time. Adults and children age 15 and older may visit the hospital. Children under 15 years of age will not be allowed to visit patients.

The Center for Disease Control offers the following information on symptoms, treatment, etc.

Watch for symptoms

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. This time frame is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.

Fever

Cough

Shortness of breath

Know how it spreads

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Take steps to protect yourself

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

Throw used tissues in the trash.

Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.

If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Who is at higher risk?

Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

Older adults

People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:

Heart disease

Diabetes

Lung disease

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