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Hunterdon News

Hunterdon Healthcare Prepared for Coronavirus

Caption 1: Anu Jose, Patient Care Assistant, 5 South, helps to screen visitors at the main entrance at Hunterdon Medical Center.

March 13, 2020

Since January 2020, Hunterdon Healthcare has been closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation and coordinating preparedness efforts with the Hunterdon County Department of Health and Hunterdon County Office of Emergency Management.  

The hospital is actively following and implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) guidelines to avoid the spread of Coronavirus within the hospital, all outpatient locations, and Wellness Centers. The following are examples of many precautions Hunterdon Healthcare has or is in the process of implementing to prevent, protect, and care for not only patients and visitors but also the community at large. 

Visitor Screening at Hunterdon Medical Center – As a precaution, Hunterdon Medical Center screens every visitor entering the facility for COVID-19. These screenings occur at the main entrance of the hospital, Doctor’s Office Building, and Behavioral Health entrance for all visitors and outpatients. 

  • Per CDC and NJDOH guidelines, all children age 12 and under, may not visit a patient and only one visitor per patient are allowed at a time.  
  • Patient visitors who present with COVID-19 symptoms are informed that they may not visit the patient, are asked if they have seen a provider and/or assisted with being seen by one at a Hunterdon Healthcare Urgent Care or walk-in practice.
  • Screenings will take place daily from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. from 8:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. visitors should enter the hospital through the Emergency Department where appropriate screenings will be provided. 
  • Visitors entering the Hunterdon Medical Center for an outpatient test/procedure/appointment who present with COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to wear a mask while in the hospital and directly sent to the appropriate department. 
  • COVID-19 screenings are also being conducted in all outpatient physician practices and the Hunterdon Health and Wellness Centers.

“Patients who are admitted to the hospital are already sick and their immune system can be weak, making it more difficult to fight off infections.  We recognize this screening may cause our visitors and outpatients some inconvenience, but this process is critical to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff,” explained Lisa Rasimowicz, MSN, RN, CIC, Director of Infection Prevention and Patient Safety Officer at Hunterdon Medical Center.

Hunterdon Healthcare COVID-19 Hotline – Hunterdon Healthcare has created a hotline for the community to call in with questions regarding Coronavirus. The number is 908-788-6440 and will be open 7 days a week, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Encouraging Social Distancing – In an effort to keep our community and employees well, Hunterdon Healthcare has marked all areas where people gather and sit to allow for adequate social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance – approximately 6 feet – from others when possible.” 

Cancellation of all Community Events/Support Groups/MeetingsAll large events and meetings have been canceled until further notice. We made the decision to limit large group meetings at the hospital out of an abundance of caution.  “We want to stress to the public that this does not mean that the community should not go out, but are encouraged to avoid large group gatherings. Patients should feel confident to come to any of our facilities as we are completely prepared for them,” explained Patrick Gavin, President and CEO, Hunterdon Healthcare.

Activation of Command Center – Hunterdon Healthcare opened its Command Center and created an email for providers and employees to get immediate answers to questions. Daily Coronavirus Updates are shared via email with all staff. 

Advanced Cleaning Protocols – Hunterdon Healthcare uses a cleaning agent that kills the coronavirus. Strict cleaning protocols are in place for the hospital and all locations operated by Hunterdon Healthcare.

Creation of Additional Negative Pressure Rooms and Upgrade of Air Vent SystemNegative pressure rooms help prevent cross-contamination from room-to-room.

Identification of Triage Areas – Specific locations in and around the hospital property have been identified to triage and treat COVID-19 patients if a surge occurs.

Restriction of Travel – All non-essential employee travel has been cancelled. A system has been created for employees who have traveled to document their activities with Occupational Health Services prior to returning to work.

Provide Public Education Regarding Screening Criteria, Handwashing, and Social Distancing – Hunterdon Healthcare has created an information page on Coronavirus and updates it frequently. Please see www.hunterdonhealthcare.org.

 Hunterdon Healthcare encourages everyone to bookmark this page or use reliable healthcare resources for your information regarding Coronavirus such as cdc.gov and/or nj.gov/health/.  In addition, Hunterdon Healthcare will continue to post updates on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.  

People of all ages can be infected by the new COVID-19. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.  

There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.  

Wash Your Hands Frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub to kill viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain Social Distancing
Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose and Mouth
Hands touch many surfaces and can easily pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and make you sick.

Practice Respiratory Hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.  There is no need for people who are not ill to wear a mask. 

Stay Home When You Are Sick
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance to allow your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

 

 

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