LRH Implementing Special Protocol As A Precautionary Measure For Any Possible COVID19 Cases

Thu 3-12-2020

(Spirit Lake)-- Local health officials continue to very closely monitor the situation surrounding COVID19, or the coronavirus. Jason Harrington, CEO of Lakes Regional Healthcare tells KUOO news they have established a COVID19 task force that is meeting on a daily basis. He says some special protocol has also been put in place at the hospital that would be triggered if someone contacts them with symptoms such as a cough, fever, shortness of breath and body aches...very similar to what's associated with influenza. He says those people should call ahead instead of just showing up in the emergency room, clinic or public health office...Harrington & COVID1901 

"So even if a patient was coming to the Emergency Room or the clinic or otherwise with those symptoms, and with the knowledge that they traveled outside of the United States within the last 14 days or traveled within the United States within the last 14 days to a place with known active cases, then we really just ask them to call in advance and say I meet that criteria, and then we would encourage them when they showed up at the campus to stay in their car. We would come out then, give them a mask and escort them into an exam room."

Harrington says people meeting criteria explained earlier are to stay outside of the hospital in a vehicle and call the following numbers based on their appointment/location: Lakes Family Practice at 336-3750; Spirit Lake Medical Center and east hospital entrance at 336-2410; the Emergency Room at 336-8648; or if at the south hospital entrance call 339-6150. He says healthcare providers will complete the patient's exam wearing a gown, gloves, mask and eye protection. Once the patient leaves, he says the room would sit undisturbed for four hours to allow air handlers to cycle the air. He says it would also be cleaned with approved disinfectant by a person wearing personal protective equipment. Harrington adds they do have plans in place in case the rooms can't be turned over quickly enough to meet the volume of patients being seen. Harrington says the goal is to not only protect other patients, but healthcare providers as well...Harrington & COVID1902 

"People get concerned about, you know, if there was this wide outbreak, then, you know, obviously that outbreak could impact healthcare providers, you know, physicians, nurses and otherwise, and we want to protect them as much as we want to protect our patients so in the event of a situation like that we have healthcare providers available to take care of people. You're exactly right."

Harrington adds it's very important the information you get comes from reputable sources backed by science...Harrington & COVID1903 

"My strong encouragement to people in the community is that as you're looking for information about coronavirus, how to prevent it, where cases are currently at, that that's where they go. So the WHO (World Health Organization) website, the Centers for Disease Control website, or the Iowa Department of Public Health websites. We as an organization see those as sources of truth and I would encourage people to utilize those sites for information going forward."

On a related notes, most nursing homes and assisted living facilities are now off-limits to visitors.