COVID-19 Readiness #1 – March 3, 2020
Message from Robert Kenagy, M.D., President and CEO, Stormont Vail Health
While there are reports and speculations about the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to reassure the Kansas communities served by Stormont Vail Health that we are prepared to care for you and your families in the event this virus enters the state. COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory virus that started in Wuhan, China, and now has spread to multiple countries including the United States.
We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state health departments, our partners in emergency medical services and other agencies. We are ensuring we have ample supplies, dedicated staff and appropriate hospital treatment rooms and equipment to care for any patients with COVID-19.
We have created a protocol for the identification of patients potentially infected with COVID-19. Prior to entering the doors of our Topeka hospital or clinics throughout northeast Kansas, patients with COVID-19-like symptoms are asked to call first for a phone consult for us to gather specific patient health history and recent travel information. The number to call is 785-354-6000. If it is determined that the patient has potential COVID-19, a care plan will be developed for appropriate treatment in an isolated hospital room or quarantined area to prevent further exposure to others.
Our staff is working diligently to prepare for the potential arrival of COVID-19 in our communities. We have an interdisciplinary operations team that is responsible for creating protocols for screening and caring for patients in our ambulatory and hospital locations. The potential COVID-19 pandemic is a situation that is extremely fluid and can change at a moment’s notice. We pledge to be informative and transparent to our constituents as plans are changed and adapted to new developments. Please watch for future readiness updates.
How You Can Prepare for COVID-19
Team members of Stormont Vail Health have been preparing for the potential arrival of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in Kansas. We have formed several interdisciplinary committees working on operational and logistics plans, staff educational programs, communications efforts and incident reporting oversight. Our priority is the safety of our communities and our team members. Stormont Vail is working closely with community health partners, in-house experts and using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
You can also prepare in the event novel COVID-19 is identified in a community near you. Many of these suggested health tips also are appropriate for staying well during the regular cold and influenza season.
What precautions should you be taking?
Currently, there is no vaccination for COVID-19 and experts say virtually no one has immunity from this new virus. It is important that you practice regular personal health to protect you and your family from the spread of germs. Good prevention practices include:
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home.
- If you are sick and must go out, try to keep a distance of 6 feet between you and others.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms reported by those who have tested positive for COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
If you have traveled to an area that has been reported for known infections of the COVID-19 or have recently been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider if symptoms occur. It is important that you contact your provider with any of the reported symptoms before you arrive at a clinic or hospital. This ensures that precautions will be taken to examine you in the safest environment for everyone – you, other patients and health care staff. At Stormont Vail Health, we ask that you call 785-354-6000.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
Remember “call before you go.” Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to that of influenza. Before you leave your home to go to your healthcare provider’s office or the hospital, Stormont Vail asks that you call for a phone screening. The number to call is 785-354-6000. The call will help us determine the most appropriate treatment for you and to determine whether you need further screening, treatment, hospitalization, isolation or quarantine.
What will Stormont Vail do if a patient is suspected of having COVID-19?
Stormont Vail has set up procedures to identify those at risk and to keep the patient and others safe. If indicated, patients may be isolated and samples collected and sent to CDC for testing or the closest approved testing facility. During this time, patients will receive supportive care as they would for other respiratory viral illnesses. As milestones are made in the availability of testing, team members and the community will be updated. We understand that communication is critical and the organization will provide regular updates on COVID-19 initiatives and community impact of the virus to both internal and external audiences.
For updates on COVID-19, please visit our website at www.stormontvail.org