Provided by IMPACT – www.Impact601.com – The normality of financial markets, travel, work schedules and public events are all being disrupted as the world’s attention remains riveted to continual updates of the Coronavirus. Here at home, officials at South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel recognize the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak, but they are encouraging people to plan, not panic.
“The purpose of this press conference today is for us to share with our community what we’re doing at South Central to respond to the Coronavirus, or COVID-19,” offered Dr. Teresa Camp-Rogers as she opened up the meeting with local media on Thursday, March 12.
Camp-Rogers is the chief quality officer at SCRMC.
“As we all know, there was a case confirmed in Forrest County, and that’s really close to us. We at South Central have been following the Coronavirus since mid-January, and what we’ve been doing since that time is planning operationally to protect our staff and treat our patients and community,” she added. “We’re following closely the MSDH and CDC guidelines on the evaluation and treatment of patients with COVID-19. We’re working with regional hospitals and EMS to have a coordinated response.”
To help mitigate the spread of the virus in the local area, SCRMC is requesting that the general public refrain from visiting the hospital unless an illness requires it.
“At this time what we’re asking from South Central is limiting visitation to the hospital; we’re asking our community to limit coming to the hospital,” said Camp-Rogers. “If you need to come to the ER because you’re ill, that’s what we do. We’re talking about visiting patients in the hospital. We need you to consider that very carefully.”
Dr. Mark Horne, chief medical officer at the hospital, corroborated his colleague’s statement.
“Unless you need to be here to receive health care, or unless you need to be here to help a loved one receive health care, please don’t come just to visit. This is where it’s gonna end up, with us,” he noted. “If it’s here, we need people to not come here, acquire it and then go back into the community and spread it more. The fewer people we have here, the easier it is for us to use our resources to help people. We love our patients. We love our community. Help us help you.”
The doctors shared that each person that gets the virus has the potential to, on average, pass it to 2 to 2.5 more people. If an individual has come in contact with someone with the COVID-19, or another virus like the flu, or if an individual gets confirmation that they have the Coronavirus, social isolation (staying at home until the symptoms dissipate) can help restrict the spread of the virus.
The primary symptoms of COVID-19 can closely mimic those of the flu and include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Until the virus begins to die down, Horne recommends social distancing (staying a minimum of six feet away from others) in public places, something he conceded is counter-culture in the South. “We’re Southerners. We like to gather together, have a glass of tea and a meal and meet together at church.”
Nevertheless, the doctors promoted staying away from large social gatherings and using social distancing when public interaction is necessary. Large institutions, such as the nation’s colleges, are following that advice as many have closed campus events. Even athletic conferences, like the SEC and C-USA, are shutting down basketball and baseball competition. Those shutdowns have affected Mississippi’s universities.
The NCAA, the governing body of college athletics, has announced that fans will not be allowed to attend the college basketball tournament for Division 1 schools. Known as March Madness, the seven-round, single elimination event is a hugely popular national event that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in a few weeks.
“If you are sick, don’t go into groups or crowds. Be honest with yourself and protect your fellow citizens,” Horne urged.
The doctors said that treatment of the virus is mainly supportive and that most patients will recover at home with standard care, including rest, and by following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi State Department of Health.
The doctors concurred that wearing face masks do not really offer any great preventive aid. Social distancing and good hygiene are better methods of prevention.
“Most people don’t wear a face mask properly, so it gives a false sense of security,” explained Horne. “If you know what you’re doing, that’s one thing. But the vast majority of people have no experience in putting on and taking off a mask.”
Medical staffs use different masks than what the public has, and medical personnel wear the masks when they have prolonged contact with a patient being treated for the virus.
“This is not an end of the world event. I know a lot of people are scared, but it’s not time for panic; it’s time for concern and for doing the right things that will help diminish the rapid increase of this virus, which is a threat. We need people to work with us as we work with you. We’re not panicking, we’re planning,” Horne emphasized.
Horne stated that individuals who may get a diagnosis of COVID-19 or who are self-isolating because they think they may have come in contact with the virus, should “prepare for a period of a few weeks that you’ll be less public.” Such preparation includes having an ample supply of one’s prescription medications.
The hospital’s website, SCRMC.com, will push out COVID-19 updates multiple times a day, and the hospital plans to have links to official sources of good information about the virus.