Caring for our community: LMH Health prepared for COVID-19
by Autumn Bishop
LMH Health is working with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to closely monitor the outbreak caused by COVID-19. As the number of reported cases around the nation continues to increase and activities are canceled to control its spread, it is important to stay on top of the situation.
COVID-19 is a virus that causes symptoms similar to other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. Symptoms may appear from two to 14 days after exposure and range from mild to severe and include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Your risk of getting COVID-19 depends on where you are, where you’ve traveled recently and whether you have a pre-existing or a chronic health condition. The CDC recommends calling your doctor if you have symptoms and have recently traveled to an area that has ongoing cases of the virus, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“It is important for patients who are sick or are concerned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to call their primary care physician before coming to the clinic or hospital,” said Dr. Christopher Penn, an infectious disease physician with LMH Health’s Internal Medicine Group. “We want to make sure you get the care you need while at the same time, reducing risk to other patients.”
Taking preventive steps are also key in preventing the spread of infection. These can include:
- Practicing healthy habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth without first washing your hands.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Try not to be within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can track the time by singing “Happy Birthday” twice. The choruses of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” also meet the mark.
- Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, if soap and water aren’t readily available. You should always wash your hands if they are visibly dirty.
- Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow to prevent the spread of droplets. The CDC does not recommend that you wear a mask if you are healthy.
- Staying home if you are sick and communicating with your doctor and employer.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at home and work. Don’t forget to clean your phone and computer keyboard.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 has proven to spread rapidly across populations of people in a short time frame,” said Russ Johnson, LMH Health President & CEO. “The result of this means that while the virus may be similar to typical respiratory viruses in terms of illness and mortality, it can affect a large number of people much more quickly. It’s important to limit our exposure to people with symptoms.”
Changes to visitor policy
LMH Health is taking steps to prevent the spread of infection throughout our facilities and has already begun limiting hospital visitors. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are reducing risk for patients, visitors, staff, volunteers and the community.
“While we understand that connecting with family members is incredibly important, we strongly request you not visit the facility if you have symptoms of respiratory illness,” said Johnson. “Visitors under the age of 18, those with respiratory symptoms, or those who have recently traveled to an area in which a COVID-19 outbreak has been confirmed, will not be allowed entry. Very rare exceptions may be made in extenuating circumstances.”
LMH Health is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and recommends that individuals in higher-risk categories practice social distancing. This includes avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others, when possible. For more information and CDC recommendations, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Access to hospital and clinics
In the coming days, LMH Health may require all patients and visitors at the hospital and clinics to be screened before entering the facility. Our screeners will ask a series of questions about your health over the past two weeks. Based on those answers, you may be offered further evaluation or testing before entry is permitted. Visitors who are ill will not be allowed to enter the facility.
To safely and efficiently manage this screening process, the LMH Health Main Campus may also make changes to ways in which patients and visitors can access the hospital. If the number of entrances are reduced, signage will be in place throughout the campus and information will be updated regularly at LMH.org and through our social media channels.
This is an ongoing situation and information is changing rapidly. Rely on accurate sources of news and information about the virus, such as the CDC. The best local sources of information about COVID-19 are Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The KDHE hotline is also available to answer questions at 866-534-3463 during regular business hours.
“LMH Health is prepared to respond to COVID-19,” said Johnson. “Our physicians and experts in public health and infection prevention have invested substantial time and energy to ensure that we are prepared to handle this and all public health concerns, in tandem with our partners at the local, state and federal level.”
Autumn Bishop is marketing communications manager for LMH Health.