Ashley County Medical Center is closely monitoring updates related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, working with the Arkansas Department of Health, and staying abreast of information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to an ACMC press release.
The situation is evolving day by day, but as of press time, there were no known cases of COVID-19 in Ashley County.
Recommended policies and procedures from the CDC and ADH are in place and ACMC is preparing accordingly; changes to visitor policies, as well as daily operations within the hospital and clinics, are to be expected.
One such change is that healthcare personnel will be wearing protective gear as they are trying to prevent transmission of the virus. This is not cause for alarm; the gear is meant to keep both patients and staff safe. Personal protective equipment is valued and ACMC has asked the community to respect that it must be vigilant and careful with usage of such.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is quite contagious, according to the release; it can be spread by patients even with only mild symptoms. Current evidence suggests it is primarily spread via respiratory droplet meaning through the air expelled while breathing, coughing, and sneezing. There is currently no specific treatment for the virus, and no vaccine. Treatment is supportive care at home for most patients, though there will be patients that need hospitalization for more serious cases.
ACMC asks that patients call ahead to the clinics and emergency room if they are experiencing a respiratory illness before arriving. The number of unannounced arrivals needs to be limited so proper precautions can be taken for patients, staff, and other patients in waiting areas. Some low risk patients with very mild symptoms similar to the common cold may be directed to treat supportively at home without a visit to the doctor. This is to reduce exposure to other patients and healthcare personnel, as well as to preserve limited resources.
Patients requiring a doctor’s visit will be instructed regarding appointment times, points of entry into the facility, etc. Those being seen in the ER or at an ACMC Clinic will be given a mask upon arrival and instructions on how to wear it. This will help prevent further transmission from ill patients to other patients and staff members.
The community is being asked not use the ACMC ER entrance from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. unless you are to be seen as a patient in the ER. Those arriving at the hospital for other reasons should use one of the other entrances. Also, those needing to utilize outpatient services should call ahead to check in with financial counseling.
The ACMC cafeteria has been closed to the public and will only be open for ACMC employees and patients until further notice.
Also, all visitors will be screened upon entering ACMC.
Vendors and marketers are not allowed in the building at this time and should hold any necessary visits with ACMC employees via phone call or email.
Anyone not feeling well is being asked to avoid visiting the hospital and to not accompany patients to the clinic. It’s best to stay home and out of crowded spaces. Viruses that spread primarily through respiratory droplets are difficult to control which is why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly.
“Distancing yourself from others can be effective. Handwashing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers with 60 percent alcohol are also helpful, as the virus can remain on surfaces we touch in public spaces, which can then be transmitted to our eyes, nose, and mouth,” according to the release.
While COVID-19 is a major concern, influenza is still prevalent in the area. Flu vaccination plus these same measures can help keep you safe from influenza.
To help prevent the spread of germs remember these hygiene tips:
1.Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
2.Don’t shake hands.
3.Stay home if you are not feeling well or sick. Monitor your temperature as well.
4.Social distancing: keep 6 feet between you and those who are sick.
5.Recognize the signs and symptoms of the COVID-19, flu, and the common cold to self-screen.
ACMC clinics have a physician on-call 24/7 and clinic information is available on the website. The CDC, Arkansas Department of Health, and ACMC’s websites will be periodically updated with information regarding COVID-19 and other important health matters.
“ACMC appreciates your support and will continue to serve our community and update the public with new information as it becomes available. While these events are somewhat rare and can be alarming, outcomes are improved with an organized, calm, and community minded approach - ACMC and the people of Ashley County are up to the task.”