What You Need to Know from Appalachian Regional Healthcare

ARH will treat patients, protect visitors and staff as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues. As the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 grows domestically, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Maria Braman leads our efforts ensuring that patients who have been exposed to the virus can receive treatment safely and effectively.

Statement from Appalachian Regional Healthcare:

 

First Patient Tests Positive for Coronavirus COVID-19
at Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center

March 21, 2020 – As formally announced today by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) can now confirm there has been a patient tested at the Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center who has officially been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19.

 

This is the first patient in the 13-hospital ARH system to test positive for COVID-19.

 

“ARH is committed to being as transparent as possible to keep our communities safe and informed as we move through this rapidly evolving situation that COVID-19 has become. We want our public to be fully aware if there is a case in their community so they can take additional measures to protect themselves and those around them,” says Dr. Maria Braman, ARH Chief Medical Officer. “However, due to patient confidentiality and the turnaround time for tests to be processed as commercial labs get up and running, we encourage the public and the media outlets that are trying to keep them informed, to please have patience, and respectfully ask that everyone be considerate of these patients’ privacy. We understand these are scary and stressful times, but processing these tests takes time and we have been instructed that all positive confirmations are verified by the state and announced by Governor Beshear’s office.”

 

Since being tested, the patient, who was in the area visiting from another state at the time they sought treatment at Hazard ARH, has been in self-isolation at a home awaiting results of the COVID-19 test.

 

During this time, ARH staff members have remained in contact with the patient, monitoring the patient’s condition and offering support. Based on these interactions, we feel the patient has taken all the responsible measures to protect themselves and those around them by properly self-quarantining.

 

Due to patient privacy laws, and out of respect for this patient and their family, ARH will not release any further details about the patient.

 

As part of our extensive training on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and preparation for the potential of COVID-19 in our facilities, during testing our medical staff took every precaution and followed the appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols to prevent exposure to staff and other patients. Due to these measures, no staff or patients were exposed nor require self-isolating.

 

“We are keeping this patient in our prayers and hope for a quick recovery. This is a new and very contagious virus. This will not be the only case of COVID-19 we see in our communities,” Dr. Braman says.

 

“It is our responsibility as healthcare professionals to be prepared for these cases, and at ARH, we are prepared. Furthermore, it also is our responsibility as citizens to help control the spread of COVID-19 by limiting our exposure to others and practicing the CDC recommendations for social distancing and hand-washing practices. That is the only way we can get ahead of the spread of this virus.”

Useful Information About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

TESTS: 195

CONFIRMED CASES: 1

NEGATIVE CASES: 82

OUTSTANDING TESTS: 112

Updated: 3/31/20

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 OR EXPERIENCE FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS, CALL THE ARH COVID-19 HOTLINES: 606-439-7100

About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in China in December 2019. COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath. COVID-19 can be severe, and some cases have caused death. The new coronavirus can be spread from person to person. It is diagnosed with a laboratory test.

Dr. Maria Braman, our Chief Medical Officer and featured expert, provides preventative practices and with recommendations about when to seek care and answers Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19.

Preventative Practices

Personal Prevention Measures

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick with fever, coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. To avoid close contact, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. To avoid coughing into your hands, you can cough into your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for “at least 20 seconds”, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Community Prevention Measures

The following community prevention measures are recommended to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 for residents who live in a county with confirmed cases:

  • Practice social distancing (6 feet away) and limit your participation in schools, meetings, worship services and other public gatherings.
  • Implement environmental surface cleaning measures in homes, businesses, and other locations, including frequently touched surfaces and objects, i.e., tables, doorknobs, toys, desks, and computer keyboards. Use regular household cleaning spray or wipes as recommended by CDC.

People at Higher Risk for COVID-19 Complications

Adults over 60 and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. If you are at increased risk for COVID-19, it is especially important for you to take the following actions to reduce your risk of exposure:

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact (6 feet away) and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.

Fact or Fiction?

A vaccine to cure COVID-19 is available.
FALSE.

Fact: There is no vaccine for the new coronavirus right now.

You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by swallowing or gargling with bleach, taking acetic acid or steroids, or using essential oils, salt water, ethanol or other substances.
FALSE.

Fact: These recommendations do not protect you from getting COVID-19. Some of these practices may be dangerous. Protect yourself by doing the following:

  • Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, using soap and hot water.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid spreading your own germs by coughing into the crook of your elbow and staying home when you are sick.
The new coronavirus was deliberately created or released by people.
FALSE.

Fact: Viruses change over time. Occasionally, a disease outbreak happens when a virus that is common in an animal undergoes changes and passes to humans.

Ordering products shipped from China will make a person sick.
FALSE.

Fact: Researchers are studying the new coronavirus to learn more about how it infects people. It is not likely you would get COVID-19 from a package that was in transit for days or weeks.

A face mask will protect you from COVID-19.
FALSE.

Fact: Certain respirators can protect health care workers as they care for infected patients.

For the general public, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not recommended.

People with a respiratory illness can wear these masks to lessen their chance of infecting others. Bear in mind that stocking up on masks makes fewer available for sick patients and health care workers who need them.

When to Seek Care

To ensure the sickest people receive care, help minimize the spread of infection and maintain resources, please follow the guidelines below when determining when to seek medical attention.

Stay Home!

If you are worried-well, please stay home. Going to a hospital or doctor’s office adds to a higher concentration of people and further overwhelms medical staff.

Call for Advice

If you are ill, but would not have sought care if not for COVID-19, do not seek care at an ER, hospital or doctor’s office. If you want advice, call the Kentucky or West Virginia Hotlines.

Seek Care

If you are sick and feel you have an emergency, please call your doctor or seek medical care. Hospitals and medical staff across the region are ready to serve you.

Source: Kentucky Public Health

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 OR EXPERIENCE FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS, CALL THE ARH COVID-19 HOTLINES: 606-439-7100

Frequently Asked Questions

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads mainly between people who are close contact with one another, approximately six feet. The virus can be transmitted through droplets that become airborne after a sneeze or cough. Exposure also occurs after touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your face, eyes or mouth. Community spread is being seen, also. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in a particular area, including some people who are not sure how or where they became infected.

What are incubation periods and symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. COVID-19 symptoms include: Cough, Fever & Shortness of breath.

What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

Both influenza (or the flu) and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses caused by a viral infection. Both can cause fever, cough and body aches. Though symptoms are similar, they are caused by different viruses.

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

Diagnosis may be difficult with only a physical exam because mild cases of COVID-19 may appear similar to the flu or a bad cold. A laboratory test can confirm the diagnosis.

How is COVID-19 treated?

No specific antiviral treatment is currently recommended for individuals with COVID-19. Current treatment is focused on relieving symptoms. For severe cases, there may be additional options for treatment, including research drugs and therapeutics.

How can COVID-19 be prevented?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that you:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects people frequently touch.

I have a doctor’s appointment – should I be worried about getting infected with COVID-19 at an ARH facility?

All hospitals and clinics have protocols and systems in place to keep patients, visitors and health care workers safe. At this time we are operating as usual. You should not avoid seeking care out of concern over the coronavirus. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, call your health care provider first for advice. We have procedures in place for a safe care environment.

Who should seek medical treatment?

Supportive care is available at this time. There are no FDA approved treatments for COVID19. Patients with fever and/or acute respiratory illness who have traveled in the past 14 days to an area affected by COVID-19, or who have had close contact with someone who is under investigation for, or lab-confirmed, with COVID-19 should seek medical attention. Call ahead before going to the doctor or emergency room, describe your symptoms and identify when you traveled to an affected area.

Should I cancel my travel plans?

Consult the CDC for the most current risk assessment by country. Travel to Europe has been temporarily suspended.

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 OR EXPERIENCE FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS, CALL THE ARH COVID-19 HOTLINES: 606-439-7100

Visitation Changes & Closures

To help combat the potential spread of COVID-19 into our areas, over the last week, ARH put the following proactive steps in place to keep our patients, employees and caregivers as safe as possible.

 

ARH has implemented new visitor restrictions and limited entry access to our facilities. Most visitor entrances into ARH facilities are closed. There are signs posted directing you to the appropriate entrances.

No regular visitation is allowed in ARH hospitals. Exceptions will be made for the following:

 

  • Patients at the end of life

 

  • Labor/Delivery – Only one person of the mother’s choosing is allowed to accompany and visit. The visitor will undergo appropriate screening, which includes a fever check. No one with a fever greater than 100 degrees is allowed to visit.

 

  • Pediatric patients – One responsible adult is permitted to stay with pediatric patient, after appropriate screening, which includes a fever check. No one with a fever greater than 100 degrees is allowed to visit.

 

To further protect its communities from the potential spread of respiratory illnesses to patients coming into the hospital Emergency Departments, ARH also now offers a separate screening area for patients experiencing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, fever or difficulty breathing.

 

The goal of the separate screening area is to limit the exposure of patients with respiratory symptoms to other patients with similar symptoms, and to separate them from other emergency department patients who are not experiencing respiratory illnesses. Patients with respiratory symptoms are evaluated in these areas for the proper type of testing and treatment their conditions requires.

ARH understands this is a stressful time for our communities and has developed both COVID-19 website and Hotline.

 

The ARH COVID-19 Hotline is open from 7a.m to 11 p.m., 7 days a week, to field questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms, testing and prevention. The Hotline can be reached at 606-439-7100. For the most accurate and current ARH COVID-19 updates and information, call the ARH COVID-19 Hotline or Visit www.ARHCOVID19.com.

“We appreciate our communities’ understanding as we work to keep this virus away from our most vulnerable populations and the healthcare workers they depend on to care for them,” says ARH Chief Medical Office Maria Braman, MD. “We recognize that these restrictions can be disappointing to our patients and visitors, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The health and safety of our patients and care team are our top priority during this heightened time of illness.”

Dr. Braman said as the public is encourage to practice social distancing to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, visitors of ARH patients are encouraged to use FaceTime, Skype and phone calls to visit with loved ones in the hospital. Should you need assistance with this, please let a staff member know.

Closure:

To keep our communities safe and to reduce the chance of the potential spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) is taking proactive steps to limit exposure which includes temporarily restricting visitation to the ARH Medical Mall (and other ARH facilities) for non-medical reasons, including use of facilities for exercise and walking.

Additionally:

  • ARH has temporarily closed its gift shops
  • ARH cafeteria’s will continue to serve meals, however, all orders will be served in a to-go box and seating in the cafeterias will be closed.
  • All ARH Rejuvenation Centers (Hazard, KY Middlesboro, KY and Beckley, WV) will be closed as of 5 pm March 18th.

ARH continues to review recommendations from the State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will adjust these visitation restrictions as necessary.

Pharmacy Information

All of our retail pharmacies are now offering curbside pickup. Call ahead, drive up, grab your meds and go.

Please call 1-800-274-9375 for more information or assistance.

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 OR EXPERIENCE FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS, CALL THE ARH COVID-19 HOTLINES: 606-439-7100

Resources

ARH continues to review recommendations from the State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will adjust these visitation restrictions as necessary.

Contact

For more information about ARH’s COVID-19 Efforts

*This form is for informational questions only. If you are ill and suspect you have, or have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact the ARH COVID-19 Hotline.
1-606-439-7100