To Our Community Regarding COVID-19 Crisis
Letter to Our Community Regarding the COVID-19 Crisis
March 31, 2020
As your community hospital, it is important that we keep you informed and confident in what we are doing to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 Pandemic. These are extraordinary times for public health. Not only are we at heightened concern for the communities we serve, but we’re also extending that concern to our families, friends, and neighbors, to local businesses and restaurants. Please know the health and well-being of the community remain our top priority.
COVID-19 is a virus that spreads by respiratory droplets produced when a patient coughs or sneezes. The virus can live in the environment for an extended time. You could be exposed by touching a surface where a person has coughed or sneezed. It is thought that people can spread the virus before they show signs of sickness, but this is not thought to cause a high rate of new infections. Sicker patients seem to be more contagious.
Some patients will have a mild course of illness similar to a common cold while others suffer more severely, requiring ventilation in an intensive care setting. Common symptoms, based on almost 56,000 positive COVID-19 patients:
Fever — almost 90 percent of patients
Dry cough — almost 68 percent of patients
Fatigue — 38 percent of patients
Uncommon symptoms: It is unlikely you have COVID-19 if you have any of these symptoms:
Nausea or vomiting — only 5 percent of patients
Runny nose — only 5 percent of patients
Diarrhea — only 4 percent of patients
If you have a positive influenza test or other documented viral infection, you have around a two percent chance of also having COVID-19. It is very unlikely you have COVID-19.
COVID-19 is indeed in Southeast Missouri and circulating around our region. Just as we see every year with the flu (influenza) and common cold, viruses can and do move quickly through populations. The infection rate is three times as infectious as the flu, and up to 1 in 4 Americans sickened have little to no symptoms.
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Missouri Delta Medical Center activated our Incident Command Center to further guide our emergency response to this virus. Our COVID-19 Task Force has been meeting daily to address and plan for a number of issues such as supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 testing, surge plan, ventilator and negative pressure rooms, best practice for COVID-19 management, drive thru testing, and personnel issues.
We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA). Members of our COVID-Task Force are participating in weekly calls with the Emergency Management Services (EMS) and Health Departments in our districts, Department of Public Safety, Sikeston City leadership, health care providers, and employers. Additionally, we are on calls with state and federal legislators to update them on our needs and challenges.
In order to protect our staff and patients, Missouri Delta has instituted a no visitor policy with a few exceptions for minors, patients with disabilities, labor & delivery, and end of life. All elective surgeries and most screenings have been postponed. We are rolling out telemedicine in our clinics and Emergency Department Triage station. Missouri Delta is ramping up our testing capabilities for those who meet criteria in our clinics. We have the lab analyzer to start in-house testing when we receive the reagents in the coming week or two. Our surge plan includes deploying an external triage and screening station to immediately isolate suspected patients outside our Emergency Department. We have dedicated inpatient rooms and care teams for isolating suspected and/or confirmed patients. The COVID-19 task force participates in daily review of PPE inventory to ensure we have appropriate resources for our employees to safely care for patients. We have rolled out policies approved by the CDC to conserve our PPE in preparation for a surge in volume.
Testing is a very important part of understanding who should be quarantined from others. However, tests are a limited resource throughout the United States. We are strictly adhering to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for testing. This is to ensure that every patient who needs testing and meets criteria gets tested.
We are not currently testing for Coronavirus on a drive-up or walk-in basis due to a national shortage of supplies and testing capacity. We are only testing patients who meet certain criteria in our clinics and Express Care with a commercial lab. Currently, results are back in 4-5 days. Patients in our hospital that meet criteria are sent to the State Lab with a turnaround time of 1-2 days. For information on getting tested, please call the Missouri Delta COVID-19 information line at (573) 472-7240, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm or the 24hr state hotline at 1-877-435-8411. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, please remember to call your provider’s office or local emergency department before arrival.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in our community that is working to fight this virus and a special recognition to our exceptional team at Missouri Delta Medical Center. As your community hospital, we are here and prepared to care of you in this time of need. Everyone can continue to help us by staying at home and if you have to go out, wash your hands often and practice physical distancing. Your medical professionals are leaving their families to willfully step into battle on your behalf, so please do your part and stay home. Now is when we all must come together as a united front. Our dedicated, hard-working physicians, nurses, and support staff appreciate your cooperation.
For the latest Missouri Delta Medical Center updates on COVID-19, please visit missouridelta.com.