Midland-based MidMichigan Health said Monday it is continuing to review and reinforce processes for identifying and caring for patients with the Cornavirus, known as COVID-19, in the event that it is required. The health system made the announcement in response to the heightened alert regarding the virus.
“Currently, the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is low. Appropriate infection prevention precautions and emergency response plans are in place at MidMichigan Health,” said Sherry Anderson, manager for regulatory compliance, MidMichigan Health. “Members of our infection prevention and employee health teams from across the health system are meeting regularly to discuss all possible scenarios and we are carefully monitoring the news as it evolves. We are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and working with state and local health care partners to make sure we are prepared for any possible threat to our community and our state.”
In January 2020, MidMichigan Health announced that, due to continued cases of the flu being reported and the heighted alert to COVID-19, travel screenings would continue to occur at patient registration areas and the previously implemented visitor restrictions would remain in place for the remainder of the flu season. The restrictions allow only those visitors who are healthy, without symptoms of illnesses, to visit patients at MidMichigan’s Medical Centers in Alpena, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Midland, Mt. Pleasant and West Branch.
COVID-19 is a viral infection of the lower respiratory tract causing a cough, sore throat, fever, stuffy/runny nose and possible pneumonia. According to the CDC, while the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public continues to be low at this time, MidMichigan Health is responding to this public health concern.
“We are highly focused on this issue. We huddle daily and monitor all safety issues, including COVID-19, that may be of concern to our patients, visitors and staff,” said Anderson. “We are committed to ensuring a coordinated, safe response in the event that a patient presents to any of our subsidiaries with COVID-19. We have been working diligently to ensure adequate staffing and equipment resources are available in the event that we receive a COVID-19 patient or if a larger outbreak were to happen.”
General preparedness measures that have been completed, are in development and are ongoing at MidMichigan Health include:
- Reinforcing patient travel screening and triage questions based on CDC recommendations for Emergency Departments, Ambulatory Care, physician offices and clinics, and inpatient settings.
- Updating our electronic medical record (EMR) system with references/advisories for staff to identify patients who may be at risk for COVID-19 based on their travel history.
- Ensuring a process is in place to allow for safe and effective testing for patients meeting criteria.
- Following CDC guidelines for handling tested specimens.
- Outlining/mapping isolation procedures and areas.
- Sharing information on COVID-19 patient management with appropriate clinical staff.
- Equipping clinical areas with protective clothing and protective equipment to be used in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case.
- Following comprehensive procedures for disinfecting patient rooms and removing/disposing of linens and cubicle curtains.
- Preparing to safely disinfect patient treatment areas and necessary supplies used to treat COVID-19 patients
- Preparing to communicate with state departments, employees and media in case of highly-suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Providing via the MidMichigan Health website CDC information on COVID-19, visitor policy information, and signs and symptoms of the flu.
MidMichigan offers several free electronic communication services that can help family and friends keep in touch while these visiting restrictions are in effect:
- E-Cards (www.midmichigan.org/e-card) – Send electronic greetings to inpatients.
- Guest Wireless Internet Access (www.midmichigan.org/wireless) – Free wireless Internet access is available at all MidMichigan facilities. Healthy adult visitors at these sites may wish to bring a laptop or wireless device to communicate with family and friends via e-mail.
- Telephone – All inpatient and nursing home rooms have phones with free local calls. Visitors may also use their cell phones in designated areas.
Those interested in learning more about how to prevent influenza, as well as signs and symptoms of the flu, may visit www.midmichigan.org/flu. Those interested in learning more about the COVID-19 may visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.