Local Healthcare Agencies Working Together to Prepare for Coronavirus Encouraging public to protect
[Fergus Falls, MN] In light of the heightened public interest surrounding spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19 or 2019-nCoV), Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) and Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services (PRHHS) are assuring the public that they are working closely with local County Public Health departments, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be prepared for and up-to-date on the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak.
Working alongside these public health agencies, LRH and PRHHS are ready to respond in the event of a local outbreak “Our hospital(s) and health care providers are trained to manage infectious diseases including the new coronavirus,” said LRH Infection Prevention Coordinator, Sarah Brunn. “Yet the situation is still developing and COVID-19 is an emerging disease. There is more to learn about its transmissibility, severity, and other features and what will happen, so it’s important to remember we are working with the best information available to us right now. We’ll continue monitoring and adapting as new information becomes available,” she said.
For now, the public is asked to focus their efforts on prevention. Because there have been no confirmed cases in Minnesota yet, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low for those who haven't been exposed. The risk of coming into contact with a person also remains low. As with any contagious illness, public health officials and local medical staff say the goal is to reduce the spread of the virus from person to person. Therefore, the following everyday preventative actions are recommended to help further protect against the spread of coronavirus:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap & water
- Cover your cough
- Avoid touching your eyes and face
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily
- Stay home when you are sick
- Employers, encourage your employees not to come to work when sick and to stay home with sick kids rather than sending them to daycare or school
- Don’t return to work, school or daycare until fever and symptom free for 24-hours without fever-reducing medications
For people who do get sick, if you experience shortness of breath or extremely severe symptoms, or are at risk for complications due to a weakened immune system, you should see a healthcare provider. Symptoms for coronavirus disease are very similar to influenza and range from mild to severe, with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. “We recommend that you call in if you’re unsure about being seen. In most cases, your best bet is stay home, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids, but a nurse or provider can offer you more individualized direction when you call in,” Brunn said.
If you do come in to see your healthcare provider, be prepared to be screened upon arrival. “We have been screening for infectious diseases related to international travel since Ebola came onto the scene in 2014, and we are now screening patients earlier in the process, almost immediately upon arrival in most cases,” said Brunn. “We may even begin to ask some of the screening questions at the time of appointment,” she said. People presenting with influenza-like symptoms may also be asked to wear a mask and may be isolated to a room immediately when arriving at the clinic to further reduce the spread of contagious viruses.
For people concerned about upcoming travel plans, Brunn said both the MDH and the CDC websites have the most complete and up to date information about travel advisories and what to expect when traveling. The CDC link can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
Meanwhile, Brunn said a system-wide, multidisciplinary task force is meeting regularly to assess both the clinical and inventory supply issues related to the coronavirus. The task force includes physicians, staff and County Public Health officials who are collaborating on preparedness and response measures.
About Lake Region Healthcare
Lake Region Healthcare is living out its vision to be Minnesota's preeminent regional healthcare partner. With over 85 medical staff and over 900 employees, its team is dedicated to serving its patients and community with integrity, teamwork, compassion and excellence. For more information about Lake Region Healthcare, visit www.lrhc.org.
About Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services
Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services is a private, non-profit health care organization providing clinical and hospital services in several small rural communities. Bringing specialty and sub-specialty physicians to patients through a vision to lead collaborative efforts that improve the lives of the people they serve by providing quality healthcare and outstanding customer service. More info at www.prairiehealth.org.
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