Meridian hospitals offer guidance on COVID-19 Mississippi cases up to 34

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Shelby Dearing, left, a nurse at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, checks in a visitor as fellow nurse Anna Lewis takes the temperature of Kennishia Pollard, who was cleared to visit a family member at the hospital after being screened on Wednesday. 

Meridian's two general healthcare hospitals released guidance on how the public should prepare for and respond to COVID-19, as the state's total number of reported cases rose to 34 on Wednesday.

Meridian hospitals offer guidance on COVID-19 Mississippi cases up to 34

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

A sign at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian limits visitors as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 virus. 

 

 

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 13 new cases in the following counties: Bolivar (2) Coahoma (2); DeSoto (1) Hancock(1), Harrison (3); Madison (1); Pearl River(2) and Perry (1).

Rush Health Systems and Anderson Regional Health System said in a joint statement that both organizations are working with local and state health departments and are prepared to care for patients infected with COVID-19 if the need arises.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions the hospitals have been receiving:

I think I have coronavirus (COVID-19), what do I do?

Anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other respiratory problems should call their primary care provider for guidance. It is recommended that you DO NOT go to the emergency room so that hospital resources are available for those with the most critical need. If you are sick, stay home.

Can I go to a hospital or clinic for COVID-19 testing?

Testing is at the discretion of a physician on an individual basis based on screening guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mississippi Department of Health.

Only those with fever or respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath will be evaluated to see if they meet the testing criteria. Please call your primary care provider prior to visiting a healthcare facility. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.

What can I do to prevent contracting the virus?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The most important things you can do are clean your hands often, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Where should I go for information?

Stay informed and keep your family safe, but always consider the source. Visit rushhealthsystems.org, andersonregional.org, or cdc.gov for the latest information.

“Despite the ongoing crisis, following the guidelines we have outlined can help lessen the spread of this disease and keep you and your family safe,” said Dr. Fred Duggan, chief medical officer for Rush Health Systems," in a news release. “The main point we want people to remember is to stay home if you are sick and can safely do so. If you have symptoms such as fever, cough or other respiratory problems, please call your healthcare provider before coming in for a scheduled appointment or going to the Emergency Department.”

Dr. Keith Everett, chief medical officer of Anderson Regional Health System, added, “It is important for everyone to stay calm and use common sense while following the guidelines to protect yourself and others. Be diligent about protecting yourself, because at this point you should consider everyone as a possible carrier of the virus. Do not request to be tested unless you have obvious symptoms of COVID-19.”

While there is a national shortage of a component used to run the tests, both hospitals continue to follow specific guidelines from the CDC on criteria for testing, Anderson and Rush said in a statement.

The Meridian Star requested information about available protective gear, tests, ventilators and intensive care unit beds at both hospitals, but a spokesperson for Anderson said numbers were constantly changing.

“Both hospitals are designed to test and treat patients with symptoms of communicable diseases like COVID-19, while limiting the spread of the virus within the facility,” the joint statement said.

University of Mississippi Medical Center

The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson is taking aggressive efforts to conserve personal protective equipment such as gowns, masks, gloves and eye shields, according to Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

In a news conference Wednesday, Woodward said the hospital is working to develop off-site screening and testing capability and to amplify telehealth services.

A student and a nurse are among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, but no patients had tested positive as of Wednesday afternoon, she said.

Dr. Alan Jones, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, said UMMC was “ramping up contingency planning to be prepared for a tidal wave of patients that we know is about to hit us.”

He said the development of an in-house test was in progress.

“This is a reality that’s here and it will affect all of us,” Jones said.

UMMC has 93 intensive care unit beds, 40 negative pressure rooms and the ability to retrofit 60 additional rooms, according to Dr. Jonathan Wilson, chief administrative officer.

Faculty members are doing simulations on creating novel types of artificial ventilation, according to hospital leaders.

Total cases

Total cases in Mississippi include Bolivar (2); Coahoma (2); Copiah (2); DeSoto(1); Forrest (3); Hancock (2); Harrison(4); Hinds (6); Jackson (1); Leflore (4); Madison (1); Monroe (1); Pearl River (4); Perry (1).

For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

Bill Graham contributed reporting.

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