Let's be safe

LET’S BE SAFE — New “virus checkpoints” now greet visitors to the Healdsburg District Hospital where all visitors are being screened for recent travel history, health status and given COVID-19 virus prevention reminders.

Prevention information made available; official emergency continues

Leadership and staff at Healdsburg District Hospital (HDH) and the North Sonoma County Healthcare District are taking a series of “proactive” measures to address the potential healthcare risks related to the COVID-19 virus alert that is also the subject of state of California and County of Sonoma declarations of public health emergencies.

As many as two infected individuals may have visited the local hospital, and a healthcare district director confirmed a number of hospital staff are currently under self-quarantine. (Patient privacy laws prohibit hospital staff from disclosing individual patient information.) 

There are active COVID-19 patient cases currently being cared for at other Sonoma County hospitals, according to other news reports and there is an unknown number of staff under self-quarantine related to those cases.

Healdsburg District Hospital CEO, Joe Harrington, confirmed that the hospital physicians, staff and emergency department personnel have taken the extra precautions necessary to ensure a safe environment and are prepared to examine, evaluate and care for anyone showing signs of the virus. This includes daily safety meetings, regular meetings with their infectious disease director, hospital-wide trainings and implementing new procedures for mitigating the risk of exposure by sick patients entering the hospital.

“We have an amazing team that has been working across all departments and clinics to ensure that CDC protocol is in place when handling patients showing signs of the virus. We do ask that if you have any symptoms that you call us before coming to the hospital or clinics to be seen, so that we can prepare for your arrival. Taking this extra step will allow us to greet you at the entrance, equipped to provide excellent care without risking other patients and staff in the building,” said Harrington.

At a special healthcare district board meeting on March 6 Harrington told board members he had been participating in daily conference calls with county public health officials and administrators at other local hospitals. “Frankly, some of these updates have been hourly,” he said.

All but the main entrance and emergency room doors have been closed at HDH and hospital staff are screening all individuals and issuing gray wristbands, once they are cleared for entry. Only the emergency room door is open after 5 p.m.

“We are trying to be actionable and informational,” said district director E.J. Neal. “We see the biggest issue (in the COVID-19 emergency) as ignorance.” 

Fellow board member James Nantell said, “We should be in front of this. I think I’ve seen our CEO being ready to deal with our public as they come to us for services.”

Kristina Holloway, the hospital’s human resources director shared other countywide communications she has been involved in as HDH’s acting public information officer for the declared public health emergency.

The hospital has posted recommended anti-virus prevention procedures on its website and is distributing the information to the north county communities. Board director David Anderson, retired M.D., reported he had visited two local private senior care facilities in Healdsburg and Cloverdale and said, “They both appear to be enacting appropriate policies for the coronavirus issues. Both are very aware of the threat to nursing homes as evidenced by what happened in a nursing home in the state of Washington.”

Health officials advise any local residents who feel they have virus symptoms or exposure should call their physician or visit a clinic and ask to be screened or tested. COVID-19 test kits remain in short supply. The Healdsburg hospital website (healdsburgdistricthospital.org/coronavirus-update) or the Sonoma County Emergency website (socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus) are sources for the latest public health notice updates.

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