As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) makes its way across the United States, healthcare facilities across the nation are implementing extra measures to ensure the health and safety of the communities they serve. The situation is changing by the hour, so each facility remains in contact with the Center for Disease Control to determine the best course of action to fight the virus, treat patients and keep healthcare workers safe. Health care officials are asking the public to become informed and take precautions to help cut off the spread within the community and health care facilities.
Do Your Part In Preventing The Spread Of COVID-19
Hospitals are preparing for the arrival of patients with COVID-19 and following CDC guidelines to protect other patients and staff. The key goals are to reduce morbidity and mortality, minimize transmission, protect healthcare personnel, and preserve healthcare system functioning. Unfortunately, many hospitals and health care facilities are finding themselves overwhelmed with patients and some are running short on protective wear for their staff.
If you or a family member is admitted to the hospital due to the virus or another reason, being aware of what protocols your health care facility is following could help play a role in your care and recovery.
Safety Protocols In U.S. Healthcare Facilities
U.S. healthcare facilities are working with the CDC to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect their patients by implementing the following new procedures:
- Virtual Assessment: Exploring alternatives to face-to-face triage and visits, such as online self-assessment tools, online appointments, and advice lines to reduce unnecessary healthcare visits and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
- Pre-Entry Screening: Screening patients and visitors for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) before entering the facility.
- Designated Treatment Areas: Designating a specific area to safely triage and manage patients with respiratory illness away from others in the facility.
- Proper PPE Usage: Ensuring proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel coming in close contact with confirmed or possible patients with COVID-19.
You Have Symptoms Or May Have Been Exposed To COVID-19
“If you’re beginning to feel ill or believe you’ve been exposed to the Coronavirus, contact your primary care physician first,” advises Coker Law Medical Malpractice Attorney Lindsay Tygart. The CDC recommends that people with cold-like symptoms call ahead before going to a healthcare facility, and to advise staff of your symptoms and any recent travel. Calling ahead gives the facility enough time to make a plan for your care and help prevent the spread of the virus to others in the facility. However, in the case of a medical emergency or if you are experiencing severe symptoms that require immediate attention, call 911.
“Although you may be frustrated that you’re not given a test, don’t get upset,” adds Tygart. “There are currently not enough tests in the United States available for everyone who may be infected.” Many people who get the virus will get only a mild illness, like a cold, but the elderly, frail, and medically comprised are at increased risk of severe infection, requiring hospitalization or even critical care. Currently, these tests need to be reserved for the most vulnerable, at risk members of our community. However, advancements on test design are being made each day and state and federal officials are coordinating efforts to increase distribution to make more tests available.
Patient Visitation Restrictions
Hospitals are implementing restrictions on visitation to ensure the safety of their patients and staff. While some hospitals are eliminating visitation altogether, others have developed a set of guidelines they are implementing so patients can still see family members.
If visitation is allowed, they will ask questions to ensure you don’t bring the virus into their facility, such as:
- Have you had a fever in the last 3 days?
- Do you have a runny nose?
- Do you have a fever or flu-like symptoms or other signs of illness?
- Have you had exposure to a cold or flu or have you traveled to any of the affected COVID-19 areas?
Local hospitals, such as Memorial Hospital, Baptist Health, Mayo Clinic, and Ascension St.Vincent’s have added their updated visitation policies on their websites. Since the situation is evolving you may want to call your chosen healthcare facility to confirm if you have concerns. Many healthcare facilities are also offering online appointments to encourage people to stay home if they are ill. “Remember that these restrictions are only temporary, and they are put in place for your protection and for the protection of those around you,” reminds Tygart. “We at Coker Law work with medical professionals every day and we are so grateful for our first responders, nurses, and doctors who are out there willingly exposing themselves to this virus and putting themselves on the front lines in order to provide care and treatment to the members of our community.”
Protect Our Community
The team at Coker Law is working together to ensure that our valued staff, clients and families are following all recommendations provided by our local, state and national leadership. We know this is a stressful time with many changes occurring, so we want to reassure you Coker Law is taking every measure to ensure the welfare of our staff and the continuity of our service to our clients. If you or someone you love has been harmed due to suspected negligence or medical malpractice, we are here for you. Call (904) 356-6071 or click here to schedule a complementary consultation.