Hospital Corner – April, 2020
Now that Mineral County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, I trust everyone has adjusted to the current reality of our daily lives (the “new normal”). My weekly visit to Safeway, stops at the post office, and the occasional trip to the hardware store indicate most locals are doing their part to make this a short-lived pandemic in our corner of Nevada. Please continue to keep your distance from others while in public spaces, wash your hands thoroughly as often as possible, and don’t touch your face. In fact, one benefit of wearing a face mask is that it keeps those germ-laden fingers away from your mouth and nose—the most common way this virus gets into your system.
Coronavirus testing! The past two months have been chaotic weeks of constant change and therefore confusion about testing. Federal and state directives on who to test, when to test, and which test to use have confounded hospital staff—and no doubt the general public as well. In mid March, when few tests were available locally, it was relatively easy to determine who needed testing: patients over 60 with compromised immune systems were the priority. End of the month, as the state lab in Reno produced more kits, testing expanded to all hospitalized patients (including long-term care) and healthcare workers with symptoms. By mid April, with plenty of test kits on site, just about all patients with symptoms were getting the long swab up the nose (not a pleasant experience; even the toughest among us shed a tear or two during the ordeal). The rapid tests (5-10 minutes) will be great when they arrive but not likely until well into May; stay tuned as more chaos awaits us in the near-future.
Safety precautions for patients, residents and staff have not changed; actually more stringent these days. Anyone entering the hospital is screened and must put on a mask—no exceptions! We have physically isolated the nursing home from the remainder of the hospital and limited entry to essential personnel only (which means I no longer get to visit my friends each day; so glad when this is over). Another sign of the times: most hospital meetings happen via videoconferencing—even with colleagues a few doors down. Just another way to minimize contact with others and potential spread of the disease.
As mentioned numerous times, if you are having any of the common COVID symptoms such as trouble breathing, high fever, etc., please call the hospital at 341-6114 to talk to one of our medical providers before entering the building. You can also call the Nurse Health Line day or night at 341-6161 for answers to your questions. For those with Clinic appointments, please wait in your car until a staff member escorts you in. Finally, telehealth visits have mushroomed in past month, whether by smart phone, computer, or plain old telephone. If you have a simple need (such as a medication refill), this is the preferred method these days. Call your provider if you have questions.
Our 50% off program has been even more successful this time than in 2018, which explains why it was extended until April 30, 2020. Hard to beat a half off sale, especially when it comes to healthcare bills, so act quickly before the end of the month. Call the Business Office at ext 221 to make payment arrangements.
With April drawing to a close and summer not too far on the horizon, we all need just a little more patience, a bit more tolerance, for just a few more weeks and we will get through this together. Uncertainty abounds but our best chance for success is to stick to the plan. Almost there!
Hugh Qualls, Administrator