Asked about testing and recommended procedures for coronavirus, Covenant Health issued a statement this weekend that did not respond to some specific questions, particularly about testing, but the health care network did say that it has protocols in place, its medical professionals have been trained, and it is working hard to ensure it has adequate supplies.
Covenant Health has nine hospitals in East Tennessee, including Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, and other health care facilities, including Family Clinic of Oak Ridge.
Oak Ridge Today has asked Covenant Health questions about coronavirus and testing for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Among the questions: How many testing kits does Covenant Health have, if any, and what are the criteria for testing? Does Covenant Health need the kits yet? Has anyone been tested at Covenant facilities, including in Oak Ridge? If so, how many people have been tested, and what were the outcomes? Is Covenant Health sharing any recommended procedures with people who think they might need to be tested? If so, what are they?
Oak Ridge Today has also asked about the precautions being taken by health care workers and any guidance that might have been received from the state and federal governments, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here is the statement we received from Covenant Health on Saturday:
“Covenant Health’s first priorities are the safety, welfare, and privacy of our patients at all of our facilities. Our medical professionals have been trained to properly identify any patients who may have contagious illnesses that could be considered a risk to public health. We have protocols in place to assure that patients who may have infectious diseases receive appropriate screenings and care, including isolation if indicated.
“We are working hard to ensure we have adequate supplies of gowns, masks, and gloves to protect employees who may be asked to care for a patient who has a contagious illness, including COVID-19, and as always we are following stringent infection control guidelines at our hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
“We continue to work closely with local authorities to monitor developments and will respond accordingly.”
Oak Ridge Today will publish any additional information it receives from Covenant Health when that information becomes available.
The Tennessee Department of Health said Monday that a fourth case of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the state. Three of the cases were reported in Middle Tennessee, including two in the Nashville/Williamson County area, and one was in Shelby County in West Tennessee. The first case in Tennessee was reported in Williamson County on Thursday. (See previous story here.)
The new coronavirus, COVID-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December, but it has since spread worldwide to more than 100 countries. It has led to drastic measures across the globe, including quarantines of millions of people and closures of many schools, as officials try to contain or mitigate the virus. More than 100,000 people have been infected, mostly in China, and more than 3,500 have died.
CNN reported Sunday night that there are now more than 500 coronavirus cases in the United States, including 34 states, the District of Columbia, and repatriated citizens and those still on cruise ships. Twenty-one people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., CNN said.
Most cases of the coronavirus illness, possibly about 80 percent, are reported to be mild, mostly involving fever, cough, and possibly shortness of breath. But some lead to severe symptoms, require hospitalization, or result in death. Coronavirus is reported to have a higher death rate than the flu, and it is reported to be most dangerous to the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. Medical experts have advised people to wash their hands and stay home if they get sick, among other recommendations.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
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