Tennova limits patient visits

Saturday, March 14, 2020
Shelbyville Central High School Principal Tim Harwell congratulated National Honor Society members with an elbow bump instead of a handshake Thursday during an induction ceremony (see photos in the T-G next week). It’s one healthy precaution those in schools are using to greet one another since the Coronavirus has entered middle Tennessee. School Superintendent Don Embry said Friday that he is constantly monitoring the virus situation. “We have suspended all out of county field trips for students with the exception of athletics,” Embry said. “All other activities are as planned until further notice.”
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

In an effort to be prepared for the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Tennova Healthcare-Shelbyville officials said Thursday that modified visitor protocols are in place to protect patients and caregiving teams. As of Friday noon, there were no confirmed cases of the virus in Bedford County.

The communicable virus began last December in China and has made it all the way into the larger cities of Tennessee. Since COVID-19 entered the states, Tennova officials note “preparedness” has become their middle name.

Tennova released a statement Thursday, which included certain new protocols. The hospital began limiting access Friday. Front doors will be closing at 5 p.m. weekdays and remain closed all weekends.

Signage is posted informing people with fever or respiratory symptoms that they may not visit patients, according to Charisse Parker, marketing and human resources director.

“We are limiting the number of visitors to two per patient at any given time . . . not permitting children under age 18 to visit. Other providers in the area are implementing similar practices.”

Parker said Tennova continually works to be prepared for all types of infectious diseases such as measles, flu or new viruses like coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We are taking proactive steps to prepare for the protection of patients, our caregivers and the community, and monitoring ongoing COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” Parker said.

The hospital, she said, is using the screening guidelines for symptoms and risk factors and has a response plan to protect patients and staff should it be needed. If a physician determines a patient meets the risk criteria, they will coordinate testing and the patient’s ultimate disposition, coordinating with the Tennessee Department of Health as necessary.

“We understand the sensitivity at this time and want to reassure the community that we remain alert and ready to provide such care if necessary,” Parker said.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has included in its daily updates steps that healthcare facilities can take now to prepare for the Coronavirus.

“The true impact of a COVID-19 outbreak in a U.S. community cannot be predicted. However, all healthcare facilities can take steps now to prepare for such an outbreak and protect both their patients and staff,” Parker said.

Be prepared:

•Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation. Know where to turn for reliable, up-to-date information in your local community. Monitor the CDC COVID-19 website and your state and local health department websitesexternal icon for the latest information.

•Develop, or review, your facility’s emergency plan. A COVID-19 outbreak in your community could lead to staff absenteeism. Prepare alternative staffing plans to ensure as many of your facility’s staff are available as possible.

•Establish relationships with key healthcare and public health partners in your community. Make sure you know about healthcare and public health emergency planning and response activities in your community. Learn about plans to manage patients, accept transfers, and share supplies. Review any memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with affiliates, your healthcare coalition, and other partners to provide support or assistance during emergencies.

•Create an emergency contact list. Develop and continuously update emergency contact lists for key partners and ensure the lists are accessible in key locations in your facility. For example, know how to reach your local or state health department in an emergency.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Patients should call the Tennova Healthcare-Shelbyville emergency room at 684-5433 if having symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus.