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Posted on: March 12, 2020

Policies changing at hospital, nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 spread

WC Messenger

By Austin Jackson - Wise County Messenger

While there has yet to be a confirmed case of coronavirus reported in Wise County as of Thursday afternoon, Wise Health System and local nursing homes are adjusting visitors policies to prevent the spread of the virus.

Wise Health System has implemented a one visitor per patient policy. Only those who are well, and not experiencing respiratory illness (ie. cough, flu, or a fever), are allowed to visit, according to WHS.

The new policy will be in place until further notice.

“Obviously, if you are not feeling well, or if you have any flu-like symptoms, do not visit any patient,” WHS Communications Director Shannon Spann said.

There are exceptions to the policy. It will not apply to patients under the age of 18 who have a scheduled procedure, need emergency care or hospitalization. It will also not apply to patients in serious emergencies and “end of life situations.”

With the elderly especially vulnerable to COVID-19, several local nursing homes have implemented changes to their visitors policy.

“We are under a no visitors allowed policy, unless the patient is actively dying,” said Jessica Upton, director of nursing at The Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Decatur Medical Lodge is also not allowing visitors into the building, receptionist Lluvia Ramos said.

At Governor’s Ridge, they’re allowing visitors, but have put up a sign requesting visitors not come inside if they have flu-like symptoms, Executive Director Leslie Misenhimer said in an email.

Misenhimer also provided the letter, penned by Titan SenQuest President Kevin Kaseff, sent to residents and family members outlining the steps being taken to prevent COVID-19 in its community. The steps include routine cleaning and encouraging employees to go home if they’re sick.

In the occurrence of an outbreak, defined as three to five residents reporting active symptoms of COVID-19, the letter states:

“We will remove all items from dining room tables that residents can handle … We will sanitize the entire table after one or more people use it for dining. Even if only one person uses a table during a meal, all place settings will be removed for washing and the entire table and all chairs are sanitized. All staff will use gloves when bussing and cleaning tables, sanitizing chairs, and when handling anything residents or other staff might have come into contact with.

“We will use only disposable containers for room or apartment deliveries. We do not want to chance cross contaminating our kitchen with dishes that were used in a contaminated room or apartment.”

If eight or more residents/staff become ill, central dining will be suspended, Kaseff said. Once it’s believed the potential spread has passed, and there are no newly reported cases for a minimum of 48 hours, Governor’s Ridge will resume regular operations and continue to monitor for new reports of illnesses, according to the letter.

There have been protocol changes at the EMS level, too.

Read full Wise County Messenger Article.

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