Saturday, March 14, 2020

St. Joseph, Redwood Memorial Open COVID-19 Screening Tents

Posted By on Sat, Mar 14, 2020 at 10:24 AM

click to enlarge COVID-19 testing in the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory. - COURTESY OF THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Courtesy of the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services
  • COVID-19 testing in the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory.

St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals have opened tents on their campuses to begin screening patients who have “significant” symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus.

“To be clear, each site is meant to serve only as an initial touch point for those who feel as though they are exhibiting significant symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough or trouble breathing,” reads a statement emailed to the Journal by hospital spokesperson Christian Hill. “… It is important to note that patients without symptoms and those with no underlying illness who have mild symptoms such as nasal congestion, cough and diarrhea without fever or shortness of breath, should generally rest at home.”

While the hospital does not conduct COVID-19 laboratory testing on site, it will collect specimens from patients who meet testing criteria and send them to either the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory or one of two commercial labs for testing.

St. Joseph also has a coronavirus assessment tool on its website, which can be found here, that can help people assess their need for medical evaluation.

The main goals of the tents are to perform “triage pre-screening” with symptomatic patients one at a time and to provide information to patients who don’t require emergency medical care, including directing them to the hospitals’ assessment tool and virtual care options on the St. Joseph website.

Hill says the hospitals anticipate their tents, which opened today, will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., though “hours of operation long-term will be determined by need.”

“We understand there is anxiety in the community,” Hill wrote. “Please know our clinical experts are working in conjunction with colleagues across our Providence St. Joseph Health family of ministries and with the CDC and CDPH to prepare our response to COVID-19. We deeply appreciate all those on the front lines who are caring for our community. During this extraordinary time, it is critical that we rely on facts and science to appropriately care for those who need us most.”

The state of California has issued social distancing guidelines, urging residents to cancel events with more than 250 people, smaller gatherings in venues that don’t allow for 6 feet of social distancing per person or gathering of more than 10 people who are at higher risk of severe illness.

Humboldt County has recorded only one confirmed COVID-19 case, a person who tested positive in February after returning from China and has since recovered. Public Health reported Wednesday that 11 other individuals had been tested locally but did not have COVID-19. Officials said Wednesday that the county had local testing capacity at the public health laboratory and two commercial labs, though it’s unclear how many testing kits are available locally. Anecdotal reports indicate that people experiencing minor symptoms consistent with the virus are being told they don’t meet testing criteria and that they should stay home and monitor their symptoms.

Mad River Community Hospital has not responded to Journal inquiries about COVID-19 preparations.

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services has also launched a hotline for residents with questions about the virus. It can be reached at covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at hhsphb@co.humbldt.ca.us or at (707) 445-6200.

Read the full statement from Hill copied below:


Statement screening tents

St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospitals are launching auxiliary screening sites for the community in response to COVID-19. These areas will open Saturday, March 14. We anticipate that they will be open from 8AM-6PM initially, but hours of operation long-term will be determined by need.

It is important to note that patients without symptoms and those with no underlying illness who have mild symptoms such as nasal congestion, cough and diarrhea without fever or shortness of breath, should generally rest at home. A Coronavirus Assessment Tool found on the hospital website https://www.stjoehumboldt.org/ can help people assess their need for medical evaluation.

To be clear, each site is meant to serve only as an initial touch point for those who feel as though they are exhibiting significant symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough or trouble breathing. It is important to note, this is not a surge tent meant to care for patients due to a lack of capacity in the ED or hospital. Rather, the main goal for the community screening tents are to:

Perform pre-entry screening on symptomatic patients one at a time to do triage pre-screening.

Provide information to asymptomatic patients who don’t require emergency medical care, including providing information on the Coronavirus Assessment Tool available and Virtual Care options on the hospital website.

Better serve our community and deliver exceptional care.

Please be aware that testing is not done at the hospital. Specimens are collected and sent for testing to the Humboldt County Department of Public Health and commercial, high-complexity labs like Quest and Labcorp.

We understand there is anxiety in the community, please know our clinical experts are working in conjunction with colleagues across our Providence St. Joseph Health family of ministries and with CDC and CDPH to prepare our response to COVID 19.

We deeply appreciate all those on the front-lines who are caring for our community. During this extraordinary time, it is critical that we rely on facts and science to appropriately care for those who need us most.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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