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Coronavirus Update and Health System Preparations

4/9/2020

Updated April 9, 2020

Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/9/20:

  • 8 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.
  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.
  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.
  • 99 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 2,267 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

 

Screening Weekend Hours
D
CH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon. The screening site will be closed on Sunday in observance of Easter.

 

UA Continues to Support DCH with Fighting COVID-19
Several departments from the University of Alabama have been supporting DCH’s COVID-19 testing effort with the production of face shields. Now, UA’s Department of Biological Sciences is lending a helping hand as well by producing viral transport media (VTM) so that the stability of patient samples collected at DCH is maintained during transport. 

There are two main components to most swab samples. First, the swab is used to collect the specimen from the individual. Once a sample is taken, the swab is then broken off into a tube, sealed and prepared for transport. Inside the tube is a solution that helps preserve the specimen until it can be tested. It is called different things such as universal transport media or viral transport media. The contents of the solution vary depending on the equipment to be used but often include protective protein, antibiotics to control microbial contamination and buffers to control pH. Like swabs, transport media have become increasingly hard to come by.

Dr. Carol Duffy, in UA’s Department of Biological Sciences, offered to create a batch of VTM using the CDC’s protocol. She recently completed a batch of 800 tubes of VTM so that DCH can transfer the specimens.

Thank you Dr. Duffy, and everyone at UA, for your continued support. Roll Tide!

April 8, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/8/20:

  • 10 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 92 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 2,119 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Screening Weekend Hours
DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon. The screening site will be closed on Sunday in observance of Easter.

Continued Community Support
Thanks to Keith Hudson at Alabama Central Glass who built intubation boxes and delivered them last week to the Anesthesia Department (see the photo where staff members demonstrate how the box is used). DCH certified registered nurse anesthetists sent him plans the week of March 22, and he delivered quickly!

CRNAs at Northport Medical Center contacted Hudson, and he graciously donated materials and labor for four boxes. Two of the boxes are at DCH Regional Medical Center and two are at NMC where they are already in use.

We greatly appreciate Alabama Central Glass and other community businesses helping us during this difficult time!

Helping Patients Communicate with Their Families
Reducing patient and family anxiety during hospitalization is always an important part of healing. But this effort has become a challenge with the current visitor restrictions at DCH. Thanks to help from DCH’s Information Technology Department, a limited number of Apple iPads are now being used in patient care areas to help facilitate patient and family communication. 

April 7, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/7/20:

  • 10 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 85 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 1,982 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Plexiglass Hoods

 
Dr. Donal Conway, an emergency medicine physician, is shown demonstrating the hood that was recently donated to DCH by Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.
Departments from the University of Alabama and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International have already partnered to produce face shields for providers at DCH Health System.

Now, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International has also started producing Plexiglass hoods to reduce the possibility of viral transmission during procedures such as placing a breathing tube, where the chance of aerosolization (coughing, sneezing, etc.) is increased.

The outpouring of community support and innovation continues to be amazing. Thank you!

 
April 6, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
 
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/6/20:

  • 8 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 76 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 1,905 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Update on Sterilization Wrap Mask Assembly
As was reported late last week, over 250 people from the community have already responded to last week’s request from DCH to sew masks from a special medical fabric. So far, the DCH Foundation has been able to assemble and distribute over half the kits and is working to follow up with callers and get the rest out as soon as possible.

 

 

In addition to help from individual community members, Mercedes Benz US International reached out and is assembling over 1,000 masks at its factory.

As you may have heard, the DCH Foundation’s BBQ and Blue Jeans event for this year was cancelled. However, many of the event’s sponsors graciously contributed funding anyway which led to the creation of the foundation’s COVID-19 fund. The fund has help support the Feeding the Frontline effort, capital expenses related to ensuring sufficient ICU space, acquiring personal protective equipment, employee hardships, and supporting the remote testing site.

What a tremendous community and business response! Thank you!

Update on Community Made Masks
Community made masks are starting to make their way to DCH and will be put to good use. DCH would like to thank everyone who has donated masks. DCH will continue to gladly accept the homemade masks and put them to good use in lower acuity areas such as the medical office buildings. The masks being made out of surgical fabric will be given to providers in higher acuity areas.

A box will sit outside of the DCH Foundation office at 1110 Dr. Edward Hillard Dr. Please drop off homemade masks in the box and they will be collected multiple times a day. Anything you can share will be greatly appreciated.

 

April 3, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/3/20:

  • Nine inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 32 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 943 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Screening Weekend Hours
DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon and Sunday from 2 – 5 p.m.

Mask Assembly: Overwhelming Community Response
DCH would like to give a huge thank you to the community! Over 250 people from the community have already responded to yesterday’s request from DCH to sew masks from a special medical fabric. The fabric can be sterilized multiple times, and its microbial barrier properties are well tested.

With help from the COVID-19 Fund, DCH ordered a shipment of the fabric, which should make 3,600 masks. Once completed, the masks will go to direct patient care areas.

Two different styles of masks are being made from the fabric: One is similar to an N95 mask and the other is more like a procedural mask.

Volunteers have included college students, employees and DCH retirees. Volunteers are given a packet that includes fabric, a pattern and other items. These are picked up curbside at the Foundation.

The DCH Foundation is coordinating both the packet preparation and scheduling the volunteers. They are working to catch up with both and for those who have called to volunteer they will get back to you soon. We will update the community on how things are going early next week as the first of the masks start to come back and we refine the process.

Now Accepting Community Made Masks
In the last few days DCH asked everyone to start wearing masks in patient care areas. This has caused a substantial increase in usage.

DCH is now requesting the donation of homemade masks to be used in lower acuity areas such as the medical office buildings. The masks being made out of surgical fabric will be given to providers in higher acuity areas.

Starting Monday, a box will sit outside of the DCH Foundation office at 1110 Dr. Edward Hillard Dr. Please drop off homemade masks in the box and they will be collected multiple times a day. Anything you can share will be greatly appreciated.

 

April 2, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases 
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/2/20:

  • Seven inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 26 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 759 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Screening Weekend Hours
DCH’s remote screening site just west of its Regional Medical Center will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – Noon and Sunday from 2 – 5 p.m.

Now Accepting Masks Assembled at Home from Surgical Fabric
Hospitals use a special fabric to wrap surgical instrument trays before they go through gas sterilization or an autoclave. This fabric can be sterilized multiple times, and its microbial barrier properties are well tested. The University of Florida Health piloted making masks out of the material with good results.

DCH Health System has received a shipment of the fabric and is looking for volunteers to sew masks from it. Volunteers will be provided the fabric (each sheet can make up to 10 masks), metal for the nose adjustment and a pattern. Finished masks will be given to health care providers.

If you are able to help, please call June Murray at 205-759-7996. Thank you!

#FeedingtheFrontline
Yesterday we shared that The DCH Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund launched a program called “Feeding the Frontlines” to match people who want to help the DCH Health System and local restaurants at the same time. We are excited to announce an expansion of the program.

The DCH Foundation is expanding the Feeding the Frontlines program to also coordinate meals for first responders and other frontline industries such as police, fire, nursing home and EMS workers. With a donor contribution of $250 for a single department meal or $1,500 for a week of meals for a department, the Foundation staff will connect with a local restaurant, purchase the food and work with either DCH’s Volunteer Services Department or a first responder point of contact to arrange for the meal to be delivered. Those providing the contribution simply specify where they would like the meal to go.

We are especially thankful to Randy and Julie Rhodes along with Harvest Select for a generous gift to our Covid-19 Fund and the inspiration for this expansion.

Contact Brandt LaPish at Elizabeth.lapish@dchsystem.com if you are interested in participating.

#strongertogether
You can show your support for DCH by adding the DCH #strongertogether frame to your Facebook profile photo. Here is how it works:

  • From mobile, click on your picture and select “Add Frame.” Type “DCH stronger together” in the search box and choose the frame.

  • From desktop, hover over your profile picture and select “Update.”  In the pop-up window, select “Add Frame” then type “DCH stronger together” in the search box and choose the frame.

April 1, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 4/1/20:

  • Five or fewer inpatients are being treated for COVID-19 (note, this number was 6 yesterday but has since dropped below the minimum threshold we are reporting).

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 20 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 712 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Temperature Scanning Update
The new, phased process for checking temperatures at major hospital entrances will launch in the South Medical Tower at DCH Regional Medical Center at 6 a.m. tomorrow, April 2. The same process will be implemented at all three DCH hospitals and other DCH sites as staffing becomes available.

As noted in the March 31 update, the process requires every visitor, employee, provider and vendor to submit to a temperature scan at least once a day. Any person with a temperature of 100 degrees F or greater will not be allowed to enter (but can seek care if there is a need).

Once a temp is taken, each person will receive an armband to be worn on the arm or laced through the ID badge. Armbands will be valid until the next business day at 6 a.m. The armband color will change daily except for Saturdays and Sundays when the same color will be used across both days.

In addition, all who enter will be given a mask to wear. It will be required in direct patient care areas or when a distance of 6 feet can’t be maintained between people.

Capacity
The average daily census or occupancy at DCH Regional Medical Center is a little over 400 patients. Today that number was just over 300 and has continued to trend downward.

What does that mean?

In part, the drop in volume is related to the temporary pause in elective surgeries, and that is expected. The bigger concern is that people may be delaying care they really need and that could make their individual condition much worse when they finally do go to the hospital.

DCH has divided its Emergency Rooms (going so far as to add walls) so that those with respiratory conditions are kept separate from others. This has been done to keep our community as safe as possible. We want to make sure everyone knows that if they need care, they shouldn’t hesitate to call on us; we will be here for them.

Helping Community Businesses
DCH has received a tremendous outpouring of offers from the community to help with everything from donated masks to meals for health care workers. The DCH Foundation stepped in to help coordinate mask and thermometer donations. Now, as donors have reached out wishing to contribute financially, the Foundation has created the COVID-19 Fund.

As an extension of that, The DCH Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund has launched a program called “Feeding the Frontline” to match people who want to help the DCH Health System and local restaurants at the same time. With a donor contribution of $250 for a single meal or $1,500 for a week of meals, the Foundation staff will connect with a local restaurant, purchase the food and work with DCH’s Volunteer Services Director to arrange for it to be sent to a department at one of the DCH Health System campuses.

Contact Brandt LaPish at Elizabeth.lapish@dchsystem.com if you are interested in participating.

March 31, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases

To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon on 3/31/20:

  • 6 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 19 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 676 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites

Masks
Effective Wednesday, April 1, at 7 a.m., any individual entering a DCH facility will be provided a surgical mask and asked to wear it. The mask should be worn in patient care areas and in other areas where social distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained. An N95 mask will be provided to employees where recommended based on the precautions for a particular patient.

At DCH’s Regional Medical Center, masks will be provided at the entrances for the medical tower, Manderson Cancer Center, Emergency Department and South Lobby. At Northport and Fayette, masks will be at all of the currently available entrances.

This universal distribution and wearing of masks will be maintained as long as supplies are available and the elevated threat of infection exists. Masks continue to be a limited resource, so it is essential for providers to follow provided protocols to determine when to use each mask type and for how long.

DCH wholeheartedly thanks the community members and businesses who have donated masks. At this time we are not able to accept homemade masks, but if you know of a business or individual that can donate surgical or N95 masks please call 205-759-7106 to arrange a drop off.

Temperature Scanning
Community members and businesses have donated or loaned infrared thermometers (thank you!) and more are expected soon. In anticipation of these new resources, a plan is being put in place to require every visitor, employee and provider to submit to temperature scan at least once a day. Any individual with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be allowed to enter (but can seek care if there is a need). This screening process will begin in the next few days.

Personal Belongings
With the current visitation restrictions and increased infection prevention measures, DCH is asking patients and visitors to only bring essential items to the hospital. DCH Health System cannot be responsible for their personal belongings and valuables, and those items create an additional infection transmission hazard for everyone involved. 

Additional Surge Planning
Previously DCH converted 14 rooms at its Regional Medical Center into temporary negative pressure rooms. The airflow for each room is kept independent from the rest of the hospital using portable HEPA filtration units. These rooms will be used for individuals whose care involves procedures necessitating this additional precaution.

DCH anticipated the possible need for additional negative pressure rooms, so it ordered more filtration units in advance (and is working to secure still more). In the last few days, 27 more HEPA filtration systems have come in and are either being put in place or are being located in areas so that rooms can be rapidly converted to negative pressure as needed.

March 30, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases
To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DCH internal counts as of noon today:

  • 6 inpatients are being treated for COVID-19.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU.

  • Five or fewer inpatients who are positive for COVID-19 are on ventilators.

  • 18 (cumulative) have tested positive for COVID-19 at DCH sites including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.

  • 604 (cumulative) have tested negative at DCH sites.

Remote Screening Weekday and Weekend Hours
The remote screening service is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Weekend hours will be announced by Thursday.

Visitation Policy Revision
An update is being implemented to DCH’s visitation policy regarding the number of visitors that will be allowed in the NICU at any DCH campus. Click here for details.

March 27, 2020
Screening Update

The remote screening service will be open this Saturday, March 28, from 8 a.m. – noon and Sunday, March 29, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Due to staff and PPE availability, plus lower volumes, we will change the hours from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Friday next week.

 

March 26, 2020
Testing and Confirmed Cases

To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this time we have inpatients with COVID-19 being treated, but there are still five or less. DCH internal counts as of noon today:

  • 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 including individuals from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital.
  • 463 tested negative

     

    N95 Masks Needed
    As our Coronavirus team conducts its ongoing evaluation of our supplies, a need is emerging for N-95 masks. We will gladly accept donations of masks sealed in their original packaging at The DCH Foundation office, located in the Marie Bloodworth Building at 1110 Edward Hillard Blvd., Tuscaloosa, 35401. Please call 759-7106 if you have a donation and we will meet you here. 

    Please share all you can – keeping our clinical staff safe is going to be a key issue in West Alabama’s ability to weather this crisis and help limit COVID-19’s damage to our community.

    Call 205-759-7106 with any questions, or simply drop off the masks at the above address.

     

    Additional Isolation Area
    The Emergency Department at DCH’s Regional Medical Center has added more isolation space to place patients who present with respiratory symptoms similar to COVID-19. A wall was put up to isolate four rooms from the rest of the Emergency Department. Patients who come in with respiratory symptoms are taken through a separate entrance into one of these four rooms until they can be evaluated.

    Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center have also instituted isolation areas and practices for their Emergency Departments.

     

    Surge Preparations
    We will need the support of all DCH staff should we see the sustained and widespread community transmission of COVID-19. Groups of employees are being identified now that could be redeployed to other areas. For example, since nonelective surgeries are on hold, OR nurses may be called upon to help with patients at the bedside.

     

    To prepare for these situations, staff members are getting updated MEDITECH training on essential tasks like charting, rounding or physical assessment.

     

    Redeployment will only be used when demands upon our system warrant it.

     



     

     

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    March 25, 2020
    Confirmed Cases

    To keep our community informed during the COVID-19 outbreak, DCH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robin Wilson and Dr. Blake Lovely, emergency room physician and regional medical director for emergency department services at DCH, participated in a virtual town hall with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox today, March 25. Here is some of the information they shared.

    To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this time we have inpatients with COVID-19 being treated, but there are five or less.

    As of this morning:

    • Eight were positive for COVID-19 including tests from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital
    • 405 tested negative

     

    Ventilators
    DCH is prepared to handle coronavirus patients who may need ventilators.

    We just received 22 new Hamilton ventilators, including one for MRI and one for patient transport. These were part of a plan that began before the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The new ventilators are being assembled on-site now. Employee training starts early next week, followed by the ventilators’ active use by late next week or early the following week.

    The Hamilton ventilators use the same supplies as our current ventilators, and they automatically adjust to the patient’s airflow needs, enabling a faster recovery.

    DCH has 48 existing ventilators. We also have 10 rental units on hand and ready to use.

    That brings the total number of ventilators between Northport Medical Center and DCH Regional Medical Center to 80.

    Our average daily ventilator use is between 16 to 20 patients. Currently we have 25 patients on ventilators, so we are on the high end of our average but well within our capacity.

    Preparing for a Surge
    We have taken several steps to prepare for a potential surge in patients.

    DCH RMC has at least 20 negative pressure rooms (their air is separated from the main circulation) for patients who may need to be on airborne precautions.

    We have been working on two initiatives to expand that capacity.

    • First, we are moving as many patients as possible who have symptoms and are waiting on test results to one area. The nurses in these areas receive additional training on protocols to ensure patient and employee safety.

    • Second, we have been modifying an area so that an entire unit of 14 rooms will be negative pressure in case additional rooms are needed. This will serve as our primary overflow area for the more critically ill.

    Other units are being looked at for similar efforts.

    March 23, 2020

    Testing at DCH has been cancelled for today due to weather. However, our facilities team has continued to work. They are erecting a tent that cars can drive into. This will allow the screening and testing to continue during rain as long as it is not severe.


    March 21, 2020

    DCH will be offering the screening/testing service tomorrow, Sunday, March 22, from 2-5 p.m. in the parking lot just west of its Regional Medical Center campus. The times are consistent with staff availability and potential poor weather. Only swab tests will be conducted and the supply is critically low. This means only those screened with symptoms indicating a high likelihood of infection will have a specimen collected for testing.

    The service will resume 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday next week as long as supplies remain available and the weather allows for the process to safely continue. Additional measures being taken to improve and continue the effort include:

    Adding a tent that vehicles can drive into which will facilitate continued screening during moderate rain.

    Seeking additional resources including testing with other labs and new sources for supplies. Current supply levels of swabs will only last through early next week so an extensive effort is underway to find more.

    Refining the process for screening.

    Feedback from the state lab has indicated that the high rate of rejected sputum specimens was not primarily due to improper transport and spoiling (this was given as one of the reasons for rejected samples statewide). The sputum samples from DCH were primarily rejected due to a lack of testable material (not enough sputum in the collection cup). Visually screening the samples at the collection site has been very difficult due to the protective measures in place so now only swabs will be done so that the provider can better directly control the adequacy of material collected.

    If you had a specimen collected you can check your results on the DCH portal. It takes about five days for results at the moment. If your record indicates the sample was insufficient for a test and you are feeling worse, please know you can come back and get retested or see/call your doctor. False negatives are not impossible and even if negative you can still get infected later. You should practice social distancing for at least 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

    March 20, 2020
    Elective Medical Procedures
    The state has issued an order requiring all elective medical procedures to be delayed until at least April 5. All non-urgent/emergent procedures will be cancelled starting Monday, 3/23/2020. We ask you to contact your physician for assistance in determining if a case would be considered urgent/emergent based on guidelines that have been established.  

    Screening 
    Unfortunately, some specimens from the screening effort were unable to be tested by the lab. Feedback from the state lab has indicated two main reasons for this. First, reports of insufficient cooling during transport have contributed to specimens that could not be tested. The second issue has been the lack of sufficient material to test. These issues have impacted both the swab and Sputum cup collection methods and DCH and other hospitals across the state have been working to improve their processes as information has come in.

    We are working with FEMA, ADPH, and the US Government to get more swab test kits to meet the needs of our community ASAP.

    If you record indicates the sample was insufficient for a test and you are feeling worse, please know you can come back and get retested or see/call your doctor. False negatives are not impossible and even if negative you can still get infected later. You should practice social distancing for at least 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

    March 19, 2020

    Screening Tent
    The remote screening service will be closed on Friday, March 20, due to a forecast of thunderstorms in the morning and potential heavy wind and hail in the afternoon. In addition, as announced yesterday, we will not be conducting screenings on the weekends. The next time the service will be available will be Monday, March 23, starting at 8 a.m., as long as there is no rain or heavy winds.

     

    Visitation Policy Revision
    This afternoon an order was issued by the state health officer mandating the suspension of certain public gatherings. This order will run through at least April 5.

    The mandate prohibits hospital visits except for “certain compassionate care situations”. Fayette Medical Center’s Nursing Home is still closed to all visitors. DCH is updating is temporary visitation policy as follows for all of its campuses:

    • One visitor per outpatient cancer treatment patient or maternity patient.
    • One visitor per patient for end of life events.
    • Up to two visitors per patient for the NICU.
    • Any visitor must be healthy and at least 16 years old.
    • Per the order, no other visitors will be allowed.

    Thank you for your patience as we have worked through this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and how to manage it. Every day has brought new questions. With the help of a highly dedicated staff, excellent physicians and engaged partners such as the city, police, fire, EMS and many more, we have figured out solutions so we could keep screening and collecting specimens for testing.

    The remote screening service will be closed on Friday, March 20, due to a forecast of thunderstorms in the morning and potential heavy wind and hail in the afternoon. In addition, as announced yesterday, we will not be conducting screenings on the weekends. The next time the service will be available will be Monday, March 23, starting at 8 a.m., as long as there is no rain or heavy winds.

    Today we wanted to let you know about two changes we will implement immediately at DCH’s remote screening site adjacent to its Regional Medical Center. First, the provider’s personal protective equipment is not as effective when wet, so rain creates a potentially unsafe situation for the providers. On days where significant rain is in the forecast, or it starts to rain heavily when not expected, we will close the screening for the day and will work to get the word out. Second, everyone has been working very hard to meet the community need, but our resources are limited and our staff needs rest. To that end, we have decided to not hold screenings on Saturdays and Sundays.  Please self-quarantine until the next non-rainy weekday if you feel you need to be evaluated for a test. 

    This has been an evolving process. These changes reflect an effort to pace our resource consumption at a rate we hope to manage for the duration of the need. Community feedback is critical to our success. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reply to this post or message us directly. Thank you for your understanding.

    March 18, 2020
    Testing Method at Remote Screening

    The nation has a shortage of the viral transport media required to use nasal swabs, there isn’t nearly enough to meet the needs of our community. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) specifies an alternative method of testing using sputum. Sputum requires a specialized lab and a good sputum sample, but it is an extremely good test.

    However, if you can’t get enough sputum up, they can’t test. Please understand that the state lab cannot process inadequate samples. We appreciate our partners at the ADPH lab; they are an extremely sophisticated and competent team. They are working hard to test every sample they can, but please be understanding if your test results are inconclusive.

    The good news is that we have obtained hundreds of usable samples. In order to meet the needs of our community, we are using all resources available to fight this disease. This method of collection, mixed with a judicious use of the nasal swabs we have available, has allowed us to keep collecting specimens for testing when others have had to stop due to a lack of supplies. In the first two days alone we were able to screen nearly 800 people and send off over 500 specimens for testing.

    We appreciate you getting tested. We are learning about the disease prevalence in our community through this initiative.

    Unfortunately, a negative result by any testing mechanism does not rule out the disease. If you are having symptoms, please avoid contact with others for 14 days regardless of your test result or test method.

    We have to work together as a community to keep this disease from spreading. Let’s protect each other!

     

     

    March 17, 2020
    Yesterday, we screened 307 individuals at our remote screening facility. There were 267 specimens collected. It will take up to 5 days for the results to come back, and those screened will be contacted only if the test was positive. We will not be contacting individuals who tested negative. If your employer requires a doctor’s note for you to return to work, we recommend you contact your primary care physician and let them know you were screened at our remote facility. He or she can access your test results.


    March 16, 2020
    Thank you for your patience as we made our way through the first day of screening and specimen collection for testing. We saw hundreds of people. Overall things went fairly smoothly but we also learned a lot and will work to continually refine the process.

    While a portion of those screened met the current criteria for testing, many did not. We are doing our best to provide answers and test where appropriate. Please help us manage the limited resources (personnel, supplies etc.) we have available. We will resume tomorrow at 8 a.m. just west of DCH’s Regional Medical Center in the laundry parking lot. Specimens will only be collected for testing if the individual meets the current testing recommendations.

    - Flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, body aches.

    - Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of symptom onset.

    March 15, 2020

     

    Please help us manage the limited resources (personnel, supplies etc.) we have available for the remote screening/testing that will start tomorrow, March 16, at 8 a.m. just west of DCH’s Regional Medical Center in the laundry parking lot. Specimens will only be collected for testing if the individual meets the current testing recommendations.

    - Flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, body aches.

    - Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of symptom onset.


    March 14, 2020
    DCH’s multidisciplinary coronavirus (COVID-19) task force is setting up a remote screening facility in the large parking area just west of Dr. Edward Hillard Drive on its Regional Medical Center Campus near the DCH laundry facility.

     

    Starting Monday, March 16, screening services will be offered from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., seven days a week, until the need diminishes. Community members who think they may have contracted the virus will be able to pull up and speak to a provider directly from their own vehicle. Providers will conduct a verbal and visual screening based on the most recent CDC guidelines including:

    • Flu-like symptoms including fever and/or respiratory illness
    • Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of symptom onset
    • Travel from an affected geographic area within 14 days of symptom onset

    Based on the screening, individuals will either be directed to the Emergency Department or their primary care provider for routine or emergent care or to the tent for additional evaluation which could include coordination with the Alabama Department of Public Health for specimen collection and testing of symptomatic individuals.

    “DCH is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the community,” said Blake Lovely, MD, emergency room physician and medical director for the emergency department services at DCH. “DCH felt it was important to offer resources for educating the community, responding to questions and concerns and facilitating the testing process.”

    DCH’s COVID-19 task force is made up of leadership, physicians, nurses, infection prevention, safety and other experts and has been meeting several times a week to plan and stay up to date with the latest information surrounding the coronavirus.

    Other than limiting patient visits, the DCH campuses remain open and are operating normally.

    As of right now there has been one confirmed COVID-19 case in Tuscaloosa County. The individual was not admitted to DCH.

    In the interest of public health, DCH suggests a few tips to help stop the spread of this virus.

    • Frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Stay away from others if you are sick and only come to the hospital if they need medical care.
    • Limit visits to individuals in the hospital, even if you think you are well.
    • Avoid travel, especially to areas that have laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases.
    • Sanitize high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, keyboards and desks.
    • Look to the Alabama Department of Public Health or the CDC for accurate and up-to-date information.
    March 13, 2020
    The Alabama Department of Public Health reported that the first confirmed case of the Coronavirus Friday, March 13.  DCH has taken every precaution to provide for the safety of our patients and our staff.  We have treated communicable diseases for many years, so we understand the precautions that must be taken in terms of isolating patients, limiting visitors and having employees wear protective clothing. Plans are in place.

    We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

    The leadership team at DCH Health System is working to take every precaution to keep our employees, physicians, patients and visitors safe. We have a team of leadership, infectious disease, safety, and other experts meeting several times a week to stay up to date with the latest information surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). We will continue to update this page and our social media channels as new information becomes available.

    DCH continues to closely monitor the situation and has continued to initiate actions and processes to be prepared should a patient test positive. Below are some updates in that ongoing effort.

    • Work-related travel is being restricted or cancelled and DCH is encouraging employees and the community to limit personal travel.

    • Individuals with flu-like symptoms are being encouraged to only come to the hospital if they need medical care. They should not visit others. Signs discouraging visits have been placed at main entrances and further restrictions may be implemented.

    General precautions remain the same and are listed below as a reminder.

    • Travel history questions are asked at triage in Emergency Departments and other points of patient contact. 

    • Signs are in Emergency Departments to alert patients to notify staff immediately if they have traveled recently and have fever, cough, or trouble breathing.

    • Per CDC recommendations, such patients will be provided a surgical mask and be evaluated in a private room.

    • Patients who are suspected of having the virus will be evaluated in proper isolation precautions (protective clothing including a mask, face shield and gloves) and discussed with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

    • Patients who meet criteria to be investigated for coronavirus will be placed in appropriate isolation precautions per CDC guidelines.

    For more information, click here.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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