Hospital Working To Battle COVID-19

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Jeff Davis County continues to climb, and Jeff Davis Hospital is feeling the impact.
Hospital Administrator Barry Bloom said that, as of Monday, well over half of the patients hospitalized there were COVID-19 patients and the hospital is taking precautions to curtail the spread of the disease from patients to the public and staff.
“We are now in what we call a ‘Code Orange’ situation,” Bloom said. “We do allow visitors but only one designated visitor per patient, if they are a non-COVID patient. If they are a COVID patient, they are allowed no visitors.”
Bloom explained that “designated visitor,” means only one person can visit a non-COVID patient, and that designation cannot be shared with another person for visitation.
“We’re trying to keep down the number of people who come to the hospital and keep the virus from spreading,” he said.
Maintaining sufficient medications and supplies at the hospital is a priority but, like hospitals across the country, that is sometimes a difficult task.
The nationwide supply of Remdisivir, the drug that helps slow the advancement of the virus, is controlled by the government and trying to procure it is sometimes difficult.
“Sometimes you can buy it from other hospitals,” Bloom said, “if they feel they have enough on hand to share it with other hospitals. It’s in high demand.”
Bloom pointed out that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is urging Georgians to “mask up” to combat the spread of the disease.
“That’s what we need,” Bloom said. “We need to stay vigilant. Wear a mask in public.”
Bloom said the hospital does not have a bed shortage at this time as there are a total of 19 patients in the 25-bed hospital as of Monday.
While the hospital offers free COVID-19 testing, the limited supply of testing kits nationwide has forced the hospital to limit the number of people they test each week. Testing is now done by appointment only.
The turnaround time for getting test results also presents challenges. Bloom said some of the large testing centers have turnaround times of 7-9 days but Jeff Davis Hospital officials are using a laboratory in California that averages returning test results in about three days.
“We have problems with having enough transport materials in which we ship the samples to ensure they remain valid,” Bloom said. “Even the swabs themselves are in short supply, if you can believe that. They can only send us as many (test kits) as are available to them so we’re having to shorten our hours for testing because we don’t have enough tests on hand.”
The limiting of patient visitors is a precautionary measure and Bloom said it’s important that the public not put off their health care needs for fear of contracting the disease at the hospital.
“If people need diagnostic tests, they need to continue to come to the hospital for those tests,” Bloom said. “Across the country people are staying away from hospitals for fear they may get the virus, and that’s just exacerbating their illnesses by not getting the tests they need. It can cause their conditions to get worse.”
“The hospital is probably the cleanest place around,” he continued. “We are disinfecting regularly, using ultraviolet lights …. people need to continue to get the tests they need.”

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