Currently, over 1,300 cases of the disease have been reported in the U.S., with over 127,000 globally. Shenandoah Medical Center officials are continuing to monitor the situation and Chief Nursing Officer Laura Stofferson says patients are being screened as they walk in the door.
“When they come in, our ambassadors ask what they are coming in for and if there are any respiratory, cough or shortness of breath,” said Stofferson. “We have certain questions that the CDC has us ask. If they have been out of the country or have been exposed to anybody that’s been out of the country. If they answer yes to two of those questions and they fit those criteria with being out of the country that Iowa Public Health has given us, then we have a special designated area that we take them to. It’s a private room.”
Stofferson says they are taking steps to separate patients in the waiting room based on their symptoms.
“We’re asking anybody who comes in to wear a mask if you have any cough or respiratory, because influenza is still a big problem,” said Stofferson. “We are looking at our waiting rooms. We’ve now divided the waiting room areas into respiratory vs. non-respiratory. That way, we just give some extra safety for the public. We have an area for people who come in for lab, x-rays and other things have an area. We have signs that will be made to help that in our registration.”
Stofferson says the hospital is asking anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to coronavirus to call (712) 246-7020 before coming to the hospital.
“Our triage RNs will answer those calls,” said Stofferson. “They can dig down a little deeper. We’ll call public health and call the patient back to ask them what they want to do. If they say it’s not a concern, then we will have them come in and do an influenza test. We want to call public health first, so we can be prepared on where to place them.”
Stofferson reminds the public to frequently wash hands and cover coughs and sneezes. She says to make sure you clean surfaces in your home often using bleach.
“You can put five tablespoons in one gallon of water or four teaspoons in one quart of water and use that to wipe down your surfaces,” said Stofferson. “That will do the same thing as buying a spray. You can go to CDC.gov. They have all the travel information. If you have underlying conditions or are elderly, they are encouraging you to not go on cruises right now. It’s basically the same thing we would do for influenza.”
For more information or if you think you may have been exposed to the virus, call (712) 246-7020 or call your healthcare provider.