Hospital takes action, though no local cases reported to date
Hill Country Memorial is actively working with the community in regard to the potential impact of COVID-19.
“To date, we have not had a case in our area,” a hospital spokesman said Monday. “In an abundance of caution, we continue to identify and implement the latest safety measures and precautions. We want to do our very best to safeguard our patients, team members and the community.”
HCM is continuing to work on emergency planning, to ensure necessary supplies and equipment are available to treat patients and reinforce appropriate infection prevention.
In an abundance of caution, HCM will be preserving resources, including staff and surgical supplies.
HCM will be suspending elective surgical and diagnostic procedures from March 23-April 30.
Emergent and urgent surgical cases will proceed as indicated.
Criteria for procedures include:
• Supply or PPE, staffing and bed/procedural room availability;
• Urgency of procedure based on outcome or procedure and clinical judgement of patient needs and situation at hand;
• Co-morbidity and age of patient, including risk factors;
• Latest guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hospital has suggested the following measures:
• Social Distancing: HCM encourages social distancing as much as possible. Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mass gatherings and events should be limited to no more than 50 people.
• Controlled visitation at HCM: Any and all visitors must be over 18 years of age. One visitor will be allowed per patient per stay. Considerations will be made for end of life care.
• Community Resource Information Line: In an effort to provide information to the community and alleviate anxiety, HCM has implemented a Community Resource Information Line for questions or concerns. Call 830-990-6100 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• HCM services: Services HCM provides are being evaluated daily. Services and offerings may be altered. This includes educational classes, the HCM Wellness Center and more.
• Screenings: Should one exhibit symptoms of the virus, persons should call their primary care physician or the HCM Immediate Care Clinic at 803-992-2820 for phone screening. Persons should then follow all directions provided. Person are asked to not drive to any facility to be screened. HCM is offering a drive-thru testing option only if a person is symptomatic and has physicians’ orders.
HCM also recommends the following preparedness measures:
• Refined visitation policy;
• HCM-sponsored community events postponement;
• HCM has closed the Oak Tree Café to the public. Only team members, patients and visitors will have access.
• HCM has restricted access to its facilities to only the Registration and Emergency Room entrances.
• Ongoing isolation procedures for patients with respiratory infections;
• Ongoing communication and coordination with the health department and in accordance with all CDC guidelines.
Team members are asked to not travel to the greatest extent possible, including limiting local travel.
These procedures would also include household members who have traveled.
For those traveling to a Level 2 or 3 area or on a cruise, there will be a 14-day quarantine from the date of return from travel.
For those expecting friends or relatives coming to visit Fredericksburg, if the visitors have traveled on a cruise or to a Level 2 or 3 country, there will be a 14-day quarantine for the team member/physician exposed from the date the visitor departs.
Team members who live outside of Gillespie County and travel to HCM facilities will be reviewed daily dependent on new case reporting and the mode of transmission.
In an effort to help communities impacted by COVID-19, H-E-B will make an initial $3 million commitment to helping support local organizations helping those in need and helping combat the spread.
“With this gift, H-E-B’s partnership with local non-profits will help provide relief to seniors, low-income families and children,” a spokesman said. “As schools are closed, events are canceled and work hours are curtailed, these organizations will start to see a rise in demand for resources.”
The spokesman stated that H-E-B is committed to helping find a solution to coronavirus and will dedicate funding to assist Texas Biomedical Research Institute in its research.
During a press conference Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott updated the public on the state’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as expanding testing capabilities.
The state announced Tuesday that it had its first virus-related death in Matagorda County.
San Antonio established the state’s first drive-thru testing site. It is currently offering testing to health care professionals and first responders in San Antonio before expanding testing to those with physician orders.
“In addition to expanding testing capabilities, the State of Texas continues to take actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and ensure Texans have the resources and supplies they need,” Abbott said. “I urge all Texans to heed the guidance of state, federal and local agencies and continue to take precautionary steps to protect their health and the health of those around them.”
Since implementing a Disaster Declaration, Texas has also:
• Fast-tracked temporary licensing for out-of-state physicians, physician assistants, retired physicians and nurses to aid in in-person and telemedicine services;
• Distributed an allotment of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile which includes masks, respirators, face shields and more;
• Waiving certain trucking regulations to streamline the flow of goods and supplies to grocery and retail stores;
• Waiving regulations to ensure students enrolled in work-study programs will continue to receive funding while campuses close;
• Waiving STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.