ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – Public health officials in Southern Utah are continuing to rapidly gear up in preparation for a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
Administrators at the Southern Utah Veterans Home announced they’re following federal requirements to restrict the number of people who enter the facility which includes family members and friends unless the visits are essential. Officials said unusual times call for unique steps to protect our vets and the community.
Staff announced they’ve reduced the number of entrances into the Southern Utah Veterans Home and locked its entryway to screen all individuals who enter the building. Health officials are asking that their staff do residents’ laundry to meet infection control guidelines and stressing the importance of hand hygiene.
Clinicians of Dixie Regional Medical Center announced the facility has now limited visitors under the age of 18 unless they’re patients themselves and assigned only two visitors per patient to avoid increasing community spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Patrick Carroll, medical director at Dixie Regional Medical Center, told ABC4 News the pandemic should be taken seriously, but that panicking is not productive.
“We really appreciate that the community has been respectful and has really responded very well to the limitations we have put in place because we know they’re difficult, but to respect those and partner with us as we limit our visitation to the hospital has really shown how St. George as a community bands together, steps up and does what’s right for each other,” Dr. Carroll said.
“We want to step outside ourselves. What’s the impact to the community, not just what is the impact to me as an individual? Would I potentially be an individual that would infect other people that are at very high risk? Whether we know it or not, we are walking around people that are immunocompromised all the time,” he added.
Dr. Carroll said medical staff are prepared in the expectation of community spread of COVID-19 and can support as many patients that would need to come in due to ongoing disaster planning that’s already been in place.
“This is ongoing planning that hospitals do and that we at Dixie Regional Medical Center have already done,” he added. “Disaster planning is really, really important, and if we start our planning at the moment we hear about this, we’re already too late.”
Health officials are recommending that people call ahead if they are exhibiting symptoms and feel they may have come into contact with a COVID-19 patient.
Medical officials are ramping up their alternate testing facilities, some of which would not require a patient to get out of the car. For patients that would not require hospitalization, medical officials would likely recommend a home quarantine to limit potential exposure.
“A potential patient would drive in, symptoms are evaluated, triage is done, and if that patient meets criteria for testing, then that testing is done potentially without the patient ever getting out of the car,” Dr. Carroll said.