Health Department, Local Hospitals Take Steps To Protect Public And Personnel
UPDATE: A 52-year-old woman from Mercer County has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to the Mercer County Health Department. For more details, see “Mercer Has First Confirmed Coronavirus Case.”
Despite Facebook posts to the contrary, no one in Mercer County has yet tested positive for the coronavirus, although there has been at least one close call.
Kathy Crown-Weber, director of the Mercer County Health Department, said her staff is following someone who shook hands with a man in Anderson County who was diagnosed. The person who shook hands with the man—allegedly over the sale of a boat—has nearly completed home isolation, Crown-Weber said.
She said Ephraim McDowell and Northgate Medical have several tests pending, but none have come back positive so far.
The health department has also reached out to members of the local Mennonite community to inform them of the importance of social distancing and of measures taken by the state to prevent the spread of the disease.
In addition, the department has distributed personal protection equipment to nursing homes, doctors’ offices and first responders.
Crown-Weber said the department is expecting more equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile later this week. They were also charged with contacting every permitted restaurant in the county to make sure they are complying with governor’s order closing dining areas.
It has been a difficult time for the health care industry as a whole. They are charged with seeing to patients at the same time they’ve been ordered to restrict contact with the public. The department has resorted to using social media in order to reach people.
Partnering with the Harrodsburg Herald, the health department has reached 32,000 people online, more than ever before.
“It’s the largest reach our Facebook has ever had,” Crown-Weber said.
The social network has been a help but it’s also been a hindrance, she said. Some have posted that officials are keeping secret a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis here in Mercer County.
Crown-Weber said she doesn’t know how they could manage to hide it. Gov. Andy Beshear gives out the latest statistics every night during his 5 p.m. briefing, and gives out the location of confirmed coronavirus tests.
Last night, Gov. Beshear announced that Kentucky is up to 124 confirmed cases and the commonwealth’s fourth coronavirus-related death. According to the governor, an 82-year-old woman in Fayette County has died. Like the other Kentuckians who have succumbed to the disease, the woman had underlying health conditions, the governor said.
Even as they gear up to fight coronavirus, health care providers are taking steps to protect their staff and patients.
Ephraim McDowell Health has restricted visitors at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital, Ephraim McDowell James B. Haggin Hospital, Primary Care Clinics, Specialty Clinics, Diagnostic Clinics and Women’s Breast and Health Center.
According to a press release, there are some exceptions such as Outpatient Pharmacy customers, births, minors, passing patients, patient sitters and those who are power of attorney or health care surrogates for a patient.
McDowell has closed the main entrance at Haggin Hospital although the Emergency Room entrance will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The health care group has also temporarily closed Ephraim McDowell Rehabilitation in Danville, Harrodsburg, Liberty and Stanford; the Kids Can Do Pediatric Therapy Center; and the McDowell Wellness Centers in Danville and Harrodsburg.
The Mercer County Health Department’s clinic remains open, although staff are trying to handle more cases over the phone. Officials say they want to make sure vaccination schedules are still being followed, because they last thing anyone needs is an outbreak of a preventable disease like pertussis—also known as whooping cough—on top of the coronavirus outbreak.
Even though it’s relatively late in the flu season, Crown-Weber said she would still recommend for people to get the influenza vaccination.
“We would gladly get rid of more flu shots,” Crown-Weber said. For more information, visit online at health-mercercounty.ky.gov.