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Update from Center Health Care regarding COVID-19
 

Dear Center Health Care Families and Friends,

As I am sure you are aware, the Coronavirus, and the disease it causes, known as COVID-19, is now spreading in our state and neighboring counties.  Center Health Care remains open and, as of today, 3/11/20, it does not have any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.  Nevertheless, we want to reassure you that we doing everything possible to keep our patients and employees safe.

What is coronavirus and how is it spread?

Coronavirus is a new version of common group of viruses that cause respiratory illness, including forms of the common cold.  It is believed that most cases likely are spread person-to-person by droplets when coughing.  However, because this virus is very new, health authorities continue to assess how it spreads.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms such as cough, fever, trouble breathing, and/or pneumonia.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.  Those at the highest risk for complications and serious illness from COVID-19 include the very young, the elderly, and those with heart disease, diabetes, and/or impaired respiratory function or immunity. 

Can you prevent coronavirus?

Unfortunately, as a new virus, there is no general immunity in the community.  There also currently is no available vaccine or anti-viral medication, although aggressive research by the CDC and other health agencies is ongoing.  The main treatment includes taking supportive measures, such as maintaining adequate hydration and nutrition, and providing respiratory support when needed.  Taking these steps can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • 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.

Wearing facemasks as a routine measure is not recommended for non-ill persons because it has been shown that facemask wearers touch their face more often than persons who are not wearing a mask and, thus, may actually increase risk of contracting the virus.  Facemasks should be reserved for persons providing care for an ill or contagious person, or for ill persons who are out of the house receiving care.

Please keep in mind that influenza is still a prominent, widespread and serious infection in our community, and vaccination is still recommended if it has not already been completed.

What actions have Center Health Care taken?

 Our primary goal is to prevent illness in our patients, the people who provide them care, and our staff.  In light of this goal, and at the recommendations of other health care agencies, we are putting the following protocols in place:

  • Screening all visitors and patients for symptoms of the virus. 
  • Screening all patients who call to schedule an appointment on the following:  symptoms consistent with the virus; recent travel to affected areas, including Long Island, Westchester County, Washington state, California, China, Korea, Iran and Italy; and exposure to someone who has traveled to those areas or is ill.
  • Asking patients who are calling for evaluation of illness to first complete a telemedicine interview.
  • Requiring patients who are seen for medical appointments to wear a mask prior to entry and to be seen in a private room.
  • Limiting all non-essential visitors to Center Health Care.
  • Participating in all training calls with the Department of Health and other health agencies. 
  • Increasing routine cleaning and disinfection in-line with recent guidance from the Department of Health. 
  • Ensuring that an ample supply of disinfectant wipes and tissues are available throughout the facility.

We are carefully monitoring the situation and following all guidance from local, state, and federal health agencies.  State officials continue to emphasize that the general risk to the public is low and, while we all need to be vigilant and cautious, it is also important to stay calm and not contribute to any undue panic.  We will continue to keep you informed as the situation evolves.  
 

We greatly appreciate your cooperation and understanding that the health and protection of you and your loved ones are our priority.

 

Maria Kansas Devine, MD

Chief Medical Officer