Hospitals following new protocolBy BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,
The Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines on public gatherings have been getting stricter by the day.
At the local level, this has affected schools, churches and even some businesses in just the last week.
Sunflower County’s medical institutions are working to try and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, while also seeing to the needs of their regular patients.
As of press time, there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported in Sunflower County, but South Sunflower County Hospital and North Sunflower Medical Center, along with their clinics, are being diligent when it comes to preventive measures.
Patients, visitors and employees are being screened upon entry to SSCH and Indianola Family Medical Clinic, according to Infection Control Director Henley Harrell.
The screening includes checking for signs and symptoms like fever, cough, aches, nasal congestion, fatigue and other respiratory issues.
“We actually do check your temperature when you walk in the building,” Harrell said.
There are only two ways to enter the hospital.
Patients, visitors and employees enter through the main lobby under the drive-thru, while emergency room patients are entering through the ambulance door on the ER side, not the sliding glass door.
“We are trying to limit the spread,” Harrell said.
Acute care patients are allowed to give the names of two visitors that can visit while the patient is in the hospital, but they are only allowed in one at a time.
Pediatric patients are allowed two guardians in the room with them.
OB patients are allowed two visitors in the room as well.
As for the clinic, it has been partitioned into “a sick side and a well side.”
“There is the new side of the clinic which is partitioned by a glass wall and a sliding door than can be closed and locked if needed,” Harrell said. “This is the side that they do the Saturday morning clinic in that we are using as the sick side.”
The “well side,” the larger portion of the clinic, is being utilized for routine scheduled appointments.
The “sick side” has designated staff to see to patients who are symptomatic.
“They will be wearing the proper protective equipment,” Harrell said. “Don’t be alarmed if you walk in there and they are wearing a mask or eye protection or anything like that. That’s just to protect the patient and the staff from any sharing of germs.”
Harrell said that if someone has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, they are encouraged to call the clinic or the hospital and ask to speak to a nurse.
“We’ll give them additional tips specific to their disease process and their symptoms,” she said.
Harrell also said the facility is working to implement a hotline in the near future for patients who are symptomatic to call.
In Ruleville, the Sunflower Rural Health Clinic sees an average of 3,500 patients a month.
NSMC Infection Control Nurse Ashley Williams said the hospital and clinic are being aggressive about screening visitors to both facilities to help prevent COVID-19 from being spread.
They have also eliminated visitation to the Walter B. Crook Nursing Facility.
“We are busy protecting the place,” Williams told The E-T on Tuesday.
Currently, no one except employees are allowed in the nursing home, which includes family members and vendors.
“So far, everybody has been very supportive,” she said. “Our visitors have been very supportive as well when we have to turn them away.”
The clinic is one of the busier spots on the NSMC campus.
“We are screening people before they enter, assessing their travel, taking their temp and asking if they have any respiratory symptoms,” Williams said. “If they do have respiratory symptoms, we’re having them wait in their car or giving them a mask if they need to enter. We’re pre-screening so they aren’t waiting in the waiting room together.”
Williams said the same procedures have been implemented at the hospital, which is limited to just two entrances.
At those two entrances, Williams said there are tables set up where people are screening those going inside.
All hospital patients are allowed only one visitor, and no children under the age of 12 are allowed as visitors in the hospital.
Williams encourages patients to call ahead so the staff can be prepared for their arrival and limit their exposure to employees and the other patients.
Both hospitals encourage good hand hygiene practice, and they both said they will be updating the community through their social media pages in the coming days and weeks.