Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness Information

Our hospitals are committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors. We are continuing to monitor the evolving situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are taking the necessary steps to ensure we are fully prepared to care for patients, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in partnership with our local and state health departments.

We want to reassure our communities that it is safe to come to the hospital should you or your family need care. We stand ready to serve you.

Below are a number of resources to help educate you and your family on COVID-19. For more information on the virus, please contact the Virginia Department of Health.

COVID-19 Online Risk Assessment

To help support the health of our community, we are providing access to an online COVID-19 risk assessment developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This tool does NOT provide a diagnosis, and it should NOT be used as a substitute for an assessment made by a healthcare provider.

Sovah Health to Resume Elective and Non-urgent Surgeries and Procedures

May 7, 2020 - Sovah Health announced today that it is taking the appropriate steps to safely resume some elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures that were previously rescheduled out of an abundance of caution amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The decision to reschedule procedures when clinically appropriate was made in accordance with federal and state guidance, and aimed to help preserve critical resources in the event of a surge of COVID-19 patients in the community. Today, current projections indicate a lower than expected volume of COVID-19 in the region, which means less strain on healthcare resources. Learn More

Maintaining Your Health, Ensuring Your Safety by James Isernia, MD, Medical Staff President.

May 22, 2020 - As healthcare providers, patient wellbeing is our chief concern every day of the year.  Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, part of how we kept our community safe was limiting elective and non-urgent procedures at Sovah Health. Currently, the threat of COVID-19 in our community seems to be under control, allowing our community to start to re-open and Sovah Health to begin gradually resuming these procedures. For some, this change is a welcome return to maintaining personal health and addressing medical issues. For others, this news may cause anxiety about safety.  I’d like to address these concerns with the hope of relieving fears that might make people overly cautious about seeking care and treatment. Learn More

Treating Patients in Isolation by Dr. Balaji Desai - Infectious Disease Doctor

May 12, 2020 - Treating infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), is not new to hospitals, and the guidelines for protecting patients, staff and visitors are comprehensive and evidence-based. You hear often that COVID-19 patients are treated in isolation, and while specific elements of COVID-19 isolation may differ from other infectious diseases, the fundamental practices for isolation treatment do not. Learn More

Minutes Matter: Don’t Put Your Heart Health On Hold During COVID-19

May 1, 2020 - When a heart attack strikes, every minute matters. In fact, the first few minutes are critical in determining the short-term and long-term outcome for the patient. While the world continues to focus on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is still the leading cause of death in the United States – and as such – it’s important to seek care urgently. Learn More

COVID-19 Testing FAQ

March 27, 2020 - Have questions about COVID-19? Check out our FAQ. Learn More

How to Make Face Covers

Many have asked whether they should be wearing face covers (masks) in public as part of the CDC’s new recommendation. We support this practice. Here is a link from the CDC that describes how to wear and make a face cover - Cloth Face Covering Instructions and Guidance From CDC. A how-to instructional video about making a face covering out of a hand towel, handkerchief, or old t-shirt can be viewed here.

Handmade Happiness Project

Need a fun, family activity for your kids to do while school is out?! We have the answer!! Sovah Health is asking the children in our community to make creative, fun, colorful, homemade cards, letters or drawings for our patients and caregivers to brighten their day. Click here to learn more.

Sovah Health Accepting Donations of Medical and Protective Supplies and Equipment

In response to questions about how members of the community can assist in the region’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response, Sovah Health today announced that it is accepting donations of unused and handmade medical and protective supplies and equipment. Learn more about donations here.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC

Access these tools from the CDC: how to protect yourself, what to do if you are sick, utilize the self checker tool and much more!

cdc covid 19 tools

Quick Links:


Visitor Restrictions and Screening Guidelines

zero visitorsIn accordance with guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and with the health and safety of our patients, families, employees and community in mind, Sovah Health is implementing strict visitor restrictions, moving to a zero-visitor protocol at both campuses effective immediately, Sunday March 22. Exceptions to this visitor protocol may include pediatric patients, obstetric patients and those receiving end-of-life care. We have already limited entry as well, and everyone entering the hospital campuses should continue to use the Emergency Department and the Main Entrance for access. Per CDC guidelines, everyone entering our facilities will be screened for respiratory symptoms and travel history.

Zero-Visitor Protocol exceptions include:

  • Pediatric patients will be allowed one WELL parents or guardians only.
  • Obstetric patients will be allowed to have one support person with them for their entire hospital visit.
  • End-of-life care - limited exceptions will be made for end of life and medical necessity as determined by the care team. 

Signage is being posted around the facilities notifying visitors and the community of these new restrictions and guidelines.


COVID-19: What Sovah Health is Doing and What You Can Do

It probably feels as if coronavirus – or as it is officially known, COVID-19 – is all anyone is talking about these days. As COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses like the seasonal flu continue to spread across the U.S., you also may feel a certain level of concern over how this disease could affect you or your loved ones, or if your local healthcare provider is prepared to respond to any local cases that may arise. That’s certainly understandable and natural. We want to provide you with essential information outlining what we are doing to stay prepared and offer you guidance on what you can do to help protect yourself, your family and our community.

What we are doing

Sovah Health is committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors at all times. While COVID-19 is new, effectively responding to other infectious diseases is not. We have tested processes and plans in place to respond to situations involving infectious disease year-round. Here is what we are doing to stay ready and effectively respond to COVID-19:

  • We continue to work closely with  Virginia Department of Health (VDH)and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that we are prepared with appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to COVID-19.
  • We have a robust emergency operations plan in place and are reviewing and proactively completing a number of preparation checklists out of an abundance of caution.
  • Staff treating a potential COVID-19 case are provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent exposure.
  • Patients with respiratory or COVID-19-related symptoms are immediately provided masks to wear to help prevent exposure to others.
  • Now that we have a positive COVID-19 case, we will follow all CDC guidelines for placing that individual in isolation for their care and for the protection of other patients, employees and visitors.
  • We are implementing strict visitor restrictions, moving to a zero-visitor protocol at both campuses effective immediately, Sunday March 22. Exceptions to this visitor protocol may include pediatric patients, obstetric patients and those receiving end-of-life care.
  • We have already limited entry as well, and everyone entering the hospital campuses should continue to use the Emergency Department and the Main Entrance for access. Per CDC guidelines, everyone entering our facilities will be screened for respiratory symptoms and travel history.

These measures are in place to protect our facility and our community. Please know that our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses.

What you can do

It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with a barrage of news reports and social media updates regarding COVID-19. The good news is that there are some key steps you can take to help protect you and your loved ones and help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, including your phone, computer, remote controls and doorknobs
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available (Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty)
  • Practicing social distancing behaviors, including working from home, avoiding public gatherings and unnecessary travel, and maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others when possible.

What to do if you are experiencing symptoms

First and foremost - if you are having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room. If possible, notify the dispatch agent that your emergency involves symptoms possibly related to COVID-19. 

For non-emergency needs, if you need medical attention due to respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and plan to visit our hospital, your primary care provider or an urgent clinic, please call ahead before you go and let them know that you are experiencing symptoms that may possibly be related to COVID-19. This will allow providers to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.

Please be reassured that our number one priority is the health and well-being of our community – and that includes you. We are prepared to manage an outbreak of respiratory illness, and we encourage you to follow the guidance above and stay tuned to updates from the CDC to help protect you and your loved ones. Keeping our community healthy is a community effort, and we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our community healthy today and for generations to come.


Hygiene Reminders from the CDC

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.

Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

 
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Learn more here.

How to use hand sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

For more information, visit the CDC website.


Who is at risk?    

The risk to the general public remains low at this time. Right now, influenza is a much more significant threat to Americans. Protect yourself from the flu - it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine.

Evidence to date indicates those most at risk for becoming ill with COVID-19 are:

  • Those in close contact with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 infection, including healthcare workers and
  • Those who have traveled in the past 14 days in countries or cities with ongoing community spread of the virus.

The CDC Travel Health Notices website provides a list of countries with sustained COVID-19 transmission.

Travelers returning from one of the countries with community spread of COVID-19 should monitor themselves for fever and other symptoms of COVID-19, including cough and shortness of breath, for 14 days after they return from one of those countries.

What are the symptoms?        

Patients with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath

Are there different strains of coronavirus?           

Yes, there are seven different coronaviruses known to infect humans.  

  • Four of the seven coronaviruses are very common, more mild (similar to the common cold), and most people will be infected with at least one of them in their lifetime. Healthcare providers test for these common coronaviruses routinely, and no public health measures are needed to address these common coronaviruses. People infected with the common coronaviruses can avoid passing them to others by covering their coughs and sneezes, cleaning their hands frequently and containing germs by staying home when ill. 
  • Three of the seven coronaviruses are rare and can cause more severe illness; this includes COVID-19. Testing for this virus can only be done at CDC; healthcare providers are not able to test for this virus independent of the public health department.

What should I do if I have traveled to an area with the infection and feel sick? 

If you have had exposure to a known case or traveled to a country with community spread and developed a fever or respiratory symptoms, please isolate yourself at home from others and contact our local VDH at www.vdh.virginia.gov or NCDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov before seeking medical care. If you need immediate medical care, contact your healthcare provider to describe your symptoms and any recent travels before you go to the healthcare facility.

How can I protect myself?               

While there is currently no vaccine and no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus and those with the virus can seek medical care to relieve symptoms. There are simple, everyday actions you can take to help prevent spreading germs that cause respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet, or within the room or care area, of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment (PPE). Close contact can also include caring for, living with, visiting or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case. Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (such as being coughed on) while not wearing recommended PPE.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

A complete list of frequently asked questions and answers about COVID-19 is available on the CDC website, by clicking here