Avera is aware that people in the United States are beginning to be concerned about COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus could now spread within communities among people who have not traveled to China, Italy and other sites.
Avera is closely monitoring the progress of the virus. The region served by Avera has not had a confirmed case of the virus. To ensure that we are prepared, along with health systems across the country, Avera is following established protocols and is implementing additional precautions to protect our patients, employees and communities.
“We know that COVID-19 is highly transmissible, meaning that it can spread from person to person within a community. With confirmed cases elsewhere in the U.S., we must be prepared for that situation when the virus may reach our area. Guidance from the CDC tells us that the risk to our communities in the U.S. is low. Yet we as a health system are being vigilant to ask travel history questions and be prepared to identify, isolate and inform should a patient present with symptoms,” said Jawad Nazir, MD, with Avera Medical Group Infectious Disease Specialists.
The CDC offers the following tips to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
If you are feeling sick, follow the below tips to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Avera is in ongoing contact with the CDC for the latest updates and recommendations regarding COVID-19. As part of our emergency preparedness practices, Avera is planning for how we will care for possible cases of the virus, and we’re establishing task forces to inventory needed supplies and equipment.
Through our extensive telemedicine services, Avera eCARE® is also preparing to assist all locations in identifying patients as they come into our emergency departments, clinics and long-term care facilities.
“Our goal is to provide the best possible care while doing everything we can to protect our patients and communities from the spread of COVID-19 ,” said Kevin Post, DO, chief medical officer for Avera Medical Group.
For more information on COVID-19 and how the CDC and states in the Avera footprint are preparing for possible cases, please visit Centers for Disease Control & Prevention resources at www.cdc.gov/COVID19.
Staff at Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital and Avera Medical Group O’Neill are taking several steps to address possible spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) in Nebraska.
Visits for patients without general respiratory illness symptoms will take place daily between 8 a.m. and noon. All other visits will take place in the afternoon.
Patients who have any general respiratory illness symptoms should use the southwest (main) facility entrance as they normally would. Any patients who have outpatient appointments such as specialty provider visits, radiology, lab or rehab should use the facility’s visitors’ entrance. Staff at both entrances will screen visitors and provide guidance as needed.
Staff also are reminding patients and families with general respiratory illness concerns to call ahead if they are feeling sick.
Call ahead before coming to the facility, especially if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, which include:
- Fever over 100 degrees
- Shortness of breath
If you have you traveled to South Korea, Japan, China, Italy or Iran, or been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please call any facility before entering. Do not visit family or friends in a health care facility while you are sick.
“We are asking everyone to only visit the hospital if necessary,” said Amy Langan, RN, BSN, Avera St. Anthony’s Director of Nursing. “We also ask you to limit the number of family or friends who come with you for appointments. If you aren’t feeling well, please do not visit. We cannot stress enough the importance of calling before you arrive if you have any of the high-risk symptoms. Our priority is to protect the public and our health care team.”
Langan said efforts are under way to establish an offsite testing location for patients who are sick with high-risk symptoms listed above. When that site is open, more information will be released.
Call 402-336-2900 with questions or to report your symptoms prior to visiting the clinics. More information is available at Avera.org/COVID-19.