Bath County and Bath Community Hospital have been working closely with the Virginia Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to ensure our county is prepared to respond during this national emergency.
Bath Community Hospital activated its Incident Command Team on Monday, March 16th, to prepare for what’s to come. Andy Seabolt, the Bath County Emergency Manager, has been attending as well to keep the lines of communication open with the county and local EMS agencies.
A new screening process was implemented last week for all patients entering the facility. The screening questionnaire asks specific symptoms related to the COVID-19 virus and provides those patients with symptoms mask and gloves to protect staff from potential exposure. If the patients have symptoms, they are required to wait for a provider for an assessment or sent directly to the Emergency Room if severe symptoms are present. “It is very important that if patients suspect they have COVID-19 they contact their primary care provider or the Emergency Room before arrival at our facility. We need to make sure the staff is prepared with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before a patient walks into the facility. A COVID -19 patient can infect the entire ER staff if we’re not prepared,” said Dr. Jeff McCray, Medical Staff President.
The screening tool is also being utilized by the 911 dispatchers to help protect the EMS personnel as well. “Our local EMS agencies have been educated on the proper precautions to take when a call is a possible COVID-19 patient and we’ve worked with our regional agency, Central Shenandoah EMS Council to customize the protocols to service our rural location,” said Andy Seabolt.
Several new policies went into place last week, including a Visitors Restriction Policy to prevent potential exposures to our inpatients as well as our staff. Kathy Landreth stated, “We are a small facility with minimal reserve for staffing. We need to protect our staff so they can continue to care for this community”. She continued, “The majority of our patient population are those who are at greater risk for this virus, and we need to make sure we are diligent in protecting those folks from coming in contact with a carrier.”
Also, Bath Community Hospital is canceling elective surgeries to prevent potential exposures and to preserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the staff to utilize. There is a nationwide shortage of PPE for all healthcare facilities, and Bath Community Hospital is no exception. “We are currently ok with our supply, but we are being conservative and no longer providing masks and gloves to patients who leave our facility as our front line healthcare workers will need these over the next few weeks,” said Cynthia Terry, Infection Control Nurse at BCH.
In the Rural Health Clinics, patients who have wellness and preventive visits are being called individually to reschedule their appointments and make sure they are ok with their current prescriptions. The clinic providers are still scheduling sick patients for appointments daily, and walk-in clinic hours are continuing at this time. However, if patients are planning to utilize the walk-in clinic, they are asked to please call ahead of time to discuss their symptoms over the phone before arrival. Clinics can be reached at 540-839-7197 (Hot Springs) and 540-962-1122 (Covington). At this time, we have closed the Millboro Clinic location due to the lack of space and being able to isolated patients appropriately.
“We understand the fear and concern that our community is facing, and we are working hard to provide you with a safe place to receive the healthcare you and your family need,” said Landreth. For more information, visit the hospital website at www.bathhospital.org for guidelines from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health.