Preparations continue at Henry County Hospital as cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rise in the state and nation.
On Monday morning, Kim Bordenkircher, chief executive officer at Henry County Hospital, said the hospital has screened seven patients for COVID-19.
“At this point in time, the results we’ve gotten back have been negative,” she said.
Bordenkircher said COVID-19 tests being conducted at the Ohio Department of Health labs must meet the criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the hospital is working with a private lab for testing under certain other conditions and after other possibilities such as influenza A and B have been ruled out.
“We do have an alternate lab that we can send the test to if the doctor still wants the patient to be tested,” Bordenkircher said, adding they are setting up a virus testing clinic so patients suspected of potentially having the virus will be in one location in the facility. “If physicians or providers identify if a person needs to be screened, they will go there.
“It is not a clinic that if you think you want a test, you show up,” she continued, adding they have a limited number of test kits.
When someone is going to be tested, either the patient or provider will still need to contact the hospital prior to the test being conducted.
“We will make sure all of the staff are protected, and we limit the exposure,” Bordenkircher added.
Another precaution being taken by the hospital starts at 7 a.m. today — visitors will no longer be permitted, with very few exceptions. Those exceptions include a significant other can be present for a woman giving birth and a parent can be with a child who is a patient.
In addition, Bordenkircher said all hospital staff are being screened at a central location prior to starting their shift, including being asked about signs or symptoms and taking temperatures.
“The hospital staff has been amazing,” she said. “They are just so courageous.”
Hospital employees who are deemed non-essential and non-clinical are able to work remotely from their homes. Volunteers stationed throughout the hospital were sent home a couple of weeks ago as many tend to be older, which is a high-risk population for this virus.
“We’ve really tried to do a lot of things out of an abundance of caution,” Bordenkircher said.
Bordenkircher said the hospital has an adequate supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) supply, but future demand is unknown at this time.
“If we get a surge, that will be a concern,” she said.
Numerous reports have surfaced of peopling making homemade facial masks for health care workers, and Bordenkircher said they are currently evaluating the effectiveness of those items.
Due to a number of calls being made to the emergency room, Bordenkircher said they will be talking to the health department regarding setting up a dedicated phone line at the hospital to answer those.
Overall, Bordenkircher advised that if individuals feel like they need to see a doctor but don’t have a primary health care provider, they can go to the emergency room, but should call first.
A stay-at-home order — issued by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton — went into effect as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. The order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. April 6, unless it’s rescinded or modified. Essential services such as going to a doctor or emergency room are permitted under the order.
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, which is defined as a new virus causing sustained outbreaks in multiple regions of the world. As of Monday afternoon, there were six confirmed deaths due to coronavirus in the state, as well as 442 confirmed cases, although officials have acknowledged that doesn’t show the full picture due to limited testing.