DHS tightens safety measures amid COVID-19 concerns
ELKINS — Keeping pace with other hospitals nationwide, Davis Health System (DHS) is again tightening hospital safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect its workers and patients.
“Our priority is slowing the spread of this virus and doing everything possible to keep our patients, care team members and communities safe,” said Vance Jackson, DHS President and CEO.
DHS Chief Medical Officer Catherine Chua, D.O. explained how stricter safety measures keep Davis Medical Center safe for patients requiring more routine care like obstetrical visits, chronic care checks, diagnostic testing and other.
“Despite the threat of COVID-19, we have patients who need continual care by their provider. We’ve ramped up safety measures to ensure these patients and our staff are not exposed to infected patients,” said Chua. “At this time we have the necessary staffing, supplies and equipment to care for patients, and we’re taking extra precautions to manage hospital safety.”
Among the intensive measures are:
• Inpatient visitation is restricted until further notice. Some newborn and end-of-life care exceptions are considered.
• All staff and patients entering DMC will be screened for fever.
• All staff and patients will enter through the Main Entrance on Gorman Avenue from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Emergency Department entry for staff is available only when the Main Entrance is closed.
• All “patient-facing” staff will wear the appropriate level of personal protective equipment (PPE).
• Around the clock intensive cleaning of patient and staff areas.
• Self-serve areas of the employee cafeteria are dismantled and seating areas are set up for social distancing.
• Health Center Pharmacy heavily encourages use of its free delivery and curbside service to reduce patient need for entering the facility.
The health system’s Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) team convenes daily to review short and long-term needs for the health care system. Among daily review is the inventory of supplies, screening procedures, emergency preparedness and communications planning, quarantine plans, staffing levels, PPE inventory, and safety processes. “We are doing everything we can to be prepared if a local spread takes off here,” said Jackson.
The availability of COVID-19 testing, essential supplies and protective gear for healthcare workers are issues of high concern.
“These are elements hospitals across the globe are contending with so these challenges aren’t unique to us,” explained Chua. “We’re fortunate that we have not seen the pandemic spread of COVID in our communities, but if you look at the rate of WV confirmed cases it continues to grow daily. It’s still a very real threat.”
“We understand it is frustrating for people who want to be COVID tested. Until more tests are available in the US and in West Virginia, we must follow the testing guidelines issued by the CDC so that the most vulnerable patients are identified and taken care of,” Chua said. “The elderly, those with preexisting heart and respiratory conditions and healthcare workers are most at risk.”
Accessing care. “It comes down to getting the right care, at the right time, at the right place,” said Chua.
Patients who have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should use the drive-thru screening site on the Davis Medical Center Campus. It is open daily for screening from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. CDC guidelines determine patients who will be referred for additional care or testing.
Patients who have general acute needs such as colds, allergies, rash, ear infection, pink eye, sinus infection, or sprains and strains should visit the walk-in services of DirectCare of Elkins or Buckhannon Medical Care. For the safety of other patients and healthcare workers, those with a fever should call the Nurse Hotline at 304.630.3088 before visiting DirectCare or their primary care physician (PCP). DirectCare of Elkins offers evening and weekend hours.
Davis Medical Center is available for scheduled primary and specialty care, lab and radiology testing, and day surgery procedures. Patients who feel ill, have a cough or fever must call the Nurse Hotline at 304-630-3088 before coming to Davis Medical Center. Even if persons are not symptomatic for influenza or coronavirus, they will be asked to wear a mask while at DMC for care or services.
Davis Health System developed a website with up-to-date information about accessing care locally. Visit davishealth-covid19.com frequently. The WV COVID-19 hotline number is 1-800-887-4304.
Look for updates from local hospitals in future editions of The Inter-Mountain.