Advice from Union County Hospital chief nursing officer

‘Wash your hands... cover your cough’

In the midst of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, Union County Hospital in Anna shares a key message with the community.

“Wash your hands. Cover your cough.”

The message was shared by Union County Hospital chief nursing officer Chuck Sanders during a telephone interview Tuesday morning.

“Protect those who are around you,” Sanders added.

Sanders was joined for the interview by Jim Farris, the hospital’s chief executive officer; and Monica Schramm, the hospital’s director of marketing.

Farris said that as of Tuesday morning, no cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 have been reported in the immediate Union County area. As of early this week, 105 cases had been reported in the State of Illinois.

Farris said that Union County Hospital has implemented an incident command system in response to the pandemic. 

“We have been working on plans for several weeks,” Farris said. “We think we are prepared.”

Union County Hospital has been receiving continuing updates about the pandemic from public health agencies.

“We are getting updates every day,” Farris said.

The hospital also has two committees, one small and one larger, which have been meeting regularly to review the facility’s response.

The hospital also has been conducting drills as part of its preparation.

Farris echoed the words of the hospital’s chief nursing officer when he was asked how people ought to respond to the pandemic.

“It’s not about you. It’s about the people around you,” he said.

Sanders encouraged everyone to be especially considerate of those who may have underlying health care issues. 

Some healthcare facilities have been reporting shortages of medical supplies. Sanders said that the Anna hospital has not experienced any supply shortages.

Farris noted that as an affiliate in Quorum Health Corporation, Union County Hospital could have access to supplies from other affiliates, if they are needed. Twenty-three hospitals are in the system.

Schramm said that the hospital, as well as the Union County Hospital long-term care facility are not allowing any visitors at this time. All of those who come into the facilities are being screened.

Schramm noted that the Illinois Department of Public Health has a hotline with information about coronavirus/COVID-19.

The hotline number is 800-889-3931.

The Union County Hospital officials also encourage the community to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ongoing updates and information about coronavirus/COVID-19.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The following information about coronavirus/COVID-19 is posted on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website can be found at www.cdc.com.

Know How it Spreads

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

Throw used tissues in the trash.

Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.

If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

To disinfect:

Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.

Options include:

Diluting your household bleach.

To make a bleach solution, mix:

5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water

OR

4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

Alcohol solutions.

Ensure solution has at least 70 percent alcohol.

Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants. 

Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogen external icon claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

What To Do if You Are Sick

Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.

Follow the steps below:  

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have it, follow the steps below to help protect other people in your home and community.

Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.

Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.

Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people in your home, this is known as home isolation.

Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.

Limit contact with pets and animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known.

When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them. 

Information for Household Members and Caregivers of Someone Who is Sick

Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.

If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in the home should stay in a different room. When caregivers enter the room of the sick person, they should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.

Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.

Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.

Soap and water: Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.

Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Do not share: Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.

Wash thoroughly after use: After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.

Clean high-touch surfaces in your isolation area (“sick room” and bathroom) every day; let a caregiver clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in other areas of the home.

Clean and disinfect: Routinely clean high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but not your bedroom and bathroom.

If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver/other person should wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom.

High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.

Household cleaners and disinfectants: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. 

Monitor Your Symptoms

Seek medical attention, but call first: Seek medical care right away if your illness is worsening (for example, if you have difficulty breathing).

Call your doctor before going in: Before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them your symptoms. They will tell you what to do.

Wear a facemask: If possible, put on a facemask before you enter the building. If you can’t put on a facemask, try to keep a safe distance from other people (at least 6 feet away). This will help protect the people in the office or waiting room.

Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department: Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives.

How to Discontinue Home Isolation

People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

If you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use or medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

If you will be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

You no longer have a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

you received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.

In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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