Shenandoah Medical Center is among the area hospitals taking additional steps to guard against the potential spread of COVID-19.
SMC CEO Matt Sells says the facility has conducted just over 50 COVID-19 tests and has not had a positive case at the hospital. Sells says they are monitoring all employees coming into the building.
“Each day, we require that every one of our employees check their temperature at the beginning and end of their shift, just to make sure that they are not exposing any of our patients,” said Sells. “Anyone that does have COVID-19-like symptoms on staff are required to quarantine for the period recommended by the Department of Public Health.”
Earlier this week, SMC implemented enhanced screenings for patients coming into the clinic. Sells says they are asking those with fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms to wait in their vehicles.
“We are usually asking any of our patients or visitors with COVID-19-like symptoms to contact our dedicated (712) 246-7020 phone line, which is our triage line for COVID-19, prior to coming into the facility,” said Sells. “Right now, we’re actually trying to set those individuals up with an immediate telehealth visit, so that we are able to have a provider visit with that patient, go through their symptoms and then make a recommendation on how we move forward from there.”
If a provider determines a COVID-19 test is needed, Sells says lab staff will conduct the swab in the parking lot while the patient stays in their car.
“They do not have to enter the facility at all,” said Sells. “That prevents exposure to other patients and staff. So far, it’s gone very, very well.”
For other patients, Sells says the hospital is offering telehealth visits over Facetime or Google Duo.
“The visit itself actually works a lot like a normal visit, as far as the dialogue is concerned,” said Sells. “Medications can then be prescribed and labs can be ordered. Since we started swabbing those patients outside of the facility in their cars, the process actually works pretty smoothly. So far, so good. I feel like our patients have really adapted to this. We’re starting to do around 30-40 telehealth visits each day now.”
Like other healthcare facilities around the country, Sells says SMC is working through a variety of channels to secure personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, gowns and other materials. He says members of the community have also stepped up to help provide equipment.
“Whether it’s local farmers calling into to they have N-95 masks, can you use them?” said Sells. “We’ve had a lot of those types of situations. The folks over at Pella are currently processing some face shields here locally for us, which is just a huge help. We’ve had various other different organizations or people step forward and donate those types of things.”
For more information, you can call SMC at (712) 246-7400 or the COVID-19 triage line at (712) 246-7020.
Written & Published by KMA