Jamie Rodgers, Chief Executive Officer
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to make news around the United States and abroad. Our leadership team at Choctaw Regional Medical Center remains focused on preparation efforts and response to the virus. We have established a COVID-19 Task Force that is led by Sid Hill and is comprised of a multidisciplinary team including medical staff members.
Our efforts to date include ongoing emergency planning, ensuring we have the necessary supplies and equipment to care for our patients/residents, and reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols, including:
• Developing screening processes for potential coronavirus patients
• Hand hygiene and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Proper environmental cleaning
• Isolation procedures for patients who may have a respiratory infection
• Visitor policies to prohibit people who may have a respiratory illness from visiting
• Ongoing communication and coordination with the health department and the CDC
In an abundance of caution as the virus continues to spread, we are implementing enhanced safety procedures. At this time, we have had one patient to test positive for COVID-19 in Mississippi. We are taking these proactive measures to do what is best for all of our patients/residents, providers, and staff.
We are developing screening protocols for patients who enter our facilities and visitors who enter our nursing home. This is for the protection of our patients/residents, our providers, and all our staff. Plans continue to be developed on procedures to isolate patients who potentially have respiratory illnesses who are seeking treatment. Patients who meet the screening criteria and have severe respiratory illness symptoms will be provided a mask for droplet precautions and be placed in an isolation room (if available). Staff will utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention measures with any patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
There is potential need for increased usage of PPE by our staff. We have inventoried our supplies and placed control measures around the dispensing and utilization of the PPE. These measures have been put in place to ensure that our stock remains at adequate levels throughout this time. There will be additional education provided to targeted departments regarding proper protocols for utilizing PPE.
Facility Access Control
To further protect our patients/residents, providers, and staff, we are working on an access control plan that will restrict access to our facilities to a limited number of entrances. It is important that our team understands that limiting entry points does not mean limiting access to our hospital. We remain ready to serve potential and current patients. Limiting entry points to our facilities helps us ensure we can monitor guest access to better protect the safety and wellbeing of our patients/residents, providers, and staff during this time of heightened focus on wellness. The following changes will be implemented for a limited time in the coming days for precautionary measures:
• The hospital visitation will be limited from 8:00am to 6:00pm
• Access to the nursing home will be located at the main entrance at Station 1.
• The Cafeteria will be closing to the public, but service will be available to staff.
• The primary entrance to the hospital will be at the front main location of the hospital and Emergency Department Entrance. The Cafeteria entrance will be closed.
• The Emergency Department entrance will not provide access to main hospital however, will remain open for Emergency Department patients 24 hours a day.
Employees should utilize proper handwashing protocols and monitor their own health. Employees should limit their exposure to high risk areas. Any employees who have had known exposure to the COVID-19 virus and develop symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, and respiratory distress, should report immediately to their supervisor for further instructions.
All clinical areas are under restriction to all non-essential personnel. Discuss with your supervisor for further instructions. As essential personnel enter clinical areas, especially our nursing home, it is required that all staff will adhere to hand washing first and cleanse hands with sanitizer before entry. Any equipment brought into the clinical areas, especially the nursing home, will require sanitizing first. As you begin to exit all clinical areas and move to your next destination, adhere to hand washing protocols, and sanitizing for hands and equipment.
If any employee has been out of the country, traveled to known areas of exposure, or had contact with a person with known contact or infection of COVID-19, notify your supervisor immediately for further instructions and do not enter the nursing home until cleared by your supervisor.
We will continuously be working on communication messages to our staff and public. Those messages will be released when they are ready. The messages are intended to:
• Inform the public of patient screening procedures and access control plan.
• Encourage patients to use appropriate sites of care that best meet their healthcare needs.
• Discourage visitors with respiratory symptoms from coming to our facilities to visit our patients and residents.
• Encourage any patient who meets the screening criteria for COVID-19—close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient or a patient under investigation; recent history of travel from affected geographic areas; fever and signs/symptoms of respiratory illness—to call ahead before coming to one of our emergency department or clinics for further instructions.
It is important that the public understands the measures we are taking to protect them, our patients/residents, our providers, and our staff are precautionary and in the best interest for safety.
As you all know, this is an evolving issue, and we want you to be informed about what is going on at Choctaw Regional Medical Center about COVID-19 and the efforts we are taking to protect you, our patients, our residents, and our community. We will continue to provide updates as we receive them.
We are often faced with challenging times and we are always going to respond with leadership. We have a responsibility and obligation to those we serve, and we want our community to know that they can count on us when in need. Thank you for your continued commitment to our patients/residents, to our organization, and to our community. I appreciate your tireless efforts to serve others and to provide excellence in care.