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EPHC prepares for Covid-19

By Lauren Westmoreland

In the wake of many changes and potential challenges to the national healthcare system with the advent of Covid-19,

Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) in Portola is working to anticipate and meet the needs of those in the community.

In a statement given March 20 by EPHC Interim CEO Jayne O’Flanagan, she said that Eastern Plumas Health Care is working closely with the State of California, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Plumas and Sierra Counties to coordinate a response and contain the spread of the virus if it should arrive in the community.

As of March xx, there are currently no positive tests reported in Plumas County by Plumas County Public Health, with xx tests administered, xx negative, and xx pending test results.

“If our community stays current with the changing guidance from the State of California, we should be able to successfully limit the number of positive cases in our area,” said O’Flanagan.

Within the hospital in Portola and long-term care facilities in both Portola and Loyalton, Eastern Plumas Health Care continues to closely follow the CDC recommendations for Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

“Our team is being very proactive in developing new patient care and contact processes to keep our community and healthcare team as safe as possible,” O’Flanagan said.

Access to the facility has been limited to the main entrance only. Effective Tuesday, March 24, the Portola Dental Clinic is closed for all routine dental visits. The dental clinic will be open on Monday and Tuesday beginning Monday, March 30 for emergencies only.

Also, effective Tuesday, March 24, no walk-ins of any kind will be allowed to any EPHC clinic. All patients must call and be screened first at 832-6600, before being seen.

Beginning Wednesday, March 25, EPHC is also limiting some laboratory and radiological services, to further the goal of preventing the spread of the virus.

The emergency department entrance will only be open to those arriving by ambulance. Regular visiting hours have been suspended to protect the most vulnerable patients.

Michelle Romero, LVN and Infection Prevention at Eastern Plumas Health Care, noted that EPHC has been hard at work, meeting with providers and staff to provide guidance on proper procedures if any staff member were to encounter a Person Under Investigation, or PUI.

“The Hospital Incident Command system has been activated,” Romero said. “We are also screening all staff before they begin work each day.”

EPHC is also looking to the future to plan ahead on any possible surge event, with Romero leading the Covid-19 plan.

There are currently nine acute hospital beds at Eastern Plumas Health Care and three emergency room beds. “The hospital has the capability to flex with the needs of the community in an event,” Romero said.

“We have MOUs, or Memorandums of Understanding, in place with surrounding agencies if an event surpasses our resources. We also have a great working relationship with our local Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator (MHOAC) for any additional supplies that may be needed.”

Eastern Plumas Health Care reminds all that for those experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or are concerned about symptoms, to please contact their medical provider.

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