By Debra Moore
Plumas District Hospital and its associated clinics are preparing for COVID-19. As of this writing there had been no confirmed cases in Plumas County.
JoDee Read, the hospital district’s chief executive officer, with input from her staff, responded to several questions posed regarding preparation. She also provided an update of services that are being impacted.
The hospital is updating its website as well as its Facebook page with the latest information.
In a letter to the community, Read wrote, “Our community is understandably concerned about the spread of COVID-19 disease. Plumas District Hospital is prepared to care for patients arriving with respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and any other medical needs.”
The hospital’s incident command structure is meeting daily to adjust to the situation.
One example is more limited access to non patients.
“We’ve begun controlling access to our facilities ensuring the safety of our patients and employees,” she wrote in her letter. “We will have an employee stationed at the entrance of the emergency department requiring individuals to sanitize their hands, as well as put a mask on if they show up with a fever, cough, or cold symptoms. Those who are visitors, and not patients seeking care, may be asked to leave.”
The hospital is working to reduce, restrict or defer elective physician office visits, elective lab tests, x-rays and other imaging, and surgeries.
“We are doing this with your health and safety in mind, so our team can focus on ill patients,” she wrote. “We’d like to minimize the population that is generally well from coming to the hospital in an effort to limit exposure.”
- How many hospital beds are there at PDH?
- We are licensed for 16 beds, but we are allowed to exceed that capacity if necessary.
- How many isolation rooms at PDH?
- Any room could be transformed into an isolation room.
- What is the surge capacity at PDH?
- A. We can handle as many patients as we have staff to safely care for.
- What are the contingency plans for staff exposure?
- We are following the CDC recommendations for Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
- Does PDH have enough personal protection equipment for staff? (masks, gloves, etc.)?
- Our current inventory is adequate.
- How is PDH handling the protocol for isolating patients who possibly have COVID-19?
- As of 5 p.m., March 18, 2020, there are no confirmed cases in Plumas County. We are adhering to our normal isolation practices and following CDC guidelines.
- Do you have the ability to test for COVID-19 at PDH and what is the estimated time to receive results?
- Testing takes place at the discretion of the provider. Turnaround time is currently taking between 4 to 5 days.
- What are you advising people to do if they aren’t sure if it’s a cold/flu or COVID-19 before arriving at a clinic or ER?
- Our clinical team is triaging patients, asking specific questions about symptoms and travel history. Patients may receive education, a clinic appointment or be asked to come to the emergency room.
In accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Surgeon General and the American College of Surgeons, PDH has decided to postpone surgeries considered to be elective to a later date.
This temporary measure will allow PDH’s surgeons and staff to enact the emergency preparedness plans they have been developing to create additional capacity for inpatients and to continue to deliver high quality care during the a potential surge in COVID-19 cases in Plumas County.
The new guidelines do not apply to emergency surgeries.
Public entrance into the hospital is limited to the South Hall (Emergency Department) entrance at this time.
It’s requested that individuals not make unnecessary visits to the PDH campus.
“While we understand that visits from family, friends and loved ones is important to the healing of our inpatients, to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Plumas District Hospital will not be accepting visitors,” the guidelines say. “If your family member or friend is hospitalized, we encourage you to telephone them by dialing 530-283-2121 and asking for them by name or room number.”
Certain exceptions apply to the following:
Patients in end-of-life situations (limit 2).
Birth of baby. One partner and one birth support person for labor and delivery (limit 2).
Minors (under 18). One parent/guardian (limit 1).
surgery or to assist with ambulation (limit 1).
If there are extenuating circumstances, “we will be compassionate in granting exceptions.”
All visitors must pass a respiratory illness screening.
In accordance with recommendations from the American College of Radiologist, PDH is postponing screening mammograms to a later date.
In accordance with recommendations from the California Dental Association, non-essential dental services are being postponed to a later date.
The following services are temporarily discontinued: Exams, hygiene, dentures and other non-essential services.
These new guidelines do not apply to essential dental procedures.