How is Heywood Healthcare responding to COVID-19?
Heywood Healthcare has established a Multidisciplinary Task Force and Command Center to ensure the highest degree of public and patient safety. Efforts have included:
- Updating ED and ambulatory screening protocols to rapidly detect patients with possible COVID-19
- Updating the screening tools in our electronic health record to flag patients with possible COVID-19
- Physician, provider and employee education - “Town Hall” meetings were hosted to update providers, employees and volunteers on the biology of the COVID-19 disease and to ensure collective understanding and action to prevent disease transmission and to support symptomatic patients
- Resource planning and allocation
For patients considered at risk, certain precautions will be deployed. This includes patients with:
- Fever of >100 AND one of the two following symptoms:
- Shortness of Breath
What should I do if I am patient at Heywood Healthcare?
If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19...
Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call your healthcare provider ahead and tell them about your symptoms. If after hours, the on-call physicians will assist you.
What are Coronaviruses?
The cause of this outbreak has been identified as a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), or COVID-19. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause symptoms ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory illness.
Other coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Heywood Healthcare has substantial experience evaluating and caring for patients with possible coronaviruses infections.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Coronaviruses are typically spread from person-to-person when in close contact. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
What are the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection?
For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms or mild cold symptoms to people being severely sick. Most people who become sick from COVID-19 recover from home. People with severe symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Common symptoms of a COVID-19 infection may include:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
Persons who are elderly, unable to develop a normal immune response, or have other comorbidities, such as heart disease or liver disease, are at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia and dying from the disease. Symptoms of the coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.
How is COVID-19 treated?
There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Many people will be able to stay home while they get better, but people with serious symptoms or other health problems might need to go to the hospital:
-Mild illness – Most people with COVID-19 can rest at home until they get better. People with mild symptoms like fever and cough seem to get better after about 2 weeks, but it's not the same for everyone.
If you are recovering from COVID-19, it's important to stay home, and away from other people, until your doctor or nurse tells you it's safe to go back to your normal activities. This decision will depend on how long it has been since you had symptoms, and in some cases, whether you have had a negative test (showing that the virus is no longer in your body).
-Severe illness – If you have more severe illness with trouble breathing, you might need to stay in the hospital, possibly in the intensive care unit (also called the "ICU"). While you are there, you will most likely be in a special "isolation" room. Only medical staff will be allowed in the room, and they will have to wear special gowns, gloves, masks, and eye protection.
The doctors and nurses can monitor and support your breathing and other body functions and make you as comfortable as possible. You might need extra oxygen to help you breathe easily. If you are having a very hard time breathing, you might need to be put on a ventilator. This is a machine to help you breathe.
Doctors are studying several different medicines to learn whether they might work to treat COVID-19. In certain cases, doctors might recommend these medicines.
What should I do if someone in my home has COVID-19?
If someone in your home has COVID-19, there are additional things you can do to protect yourself and others:
-Keep the sick person away from others – The sick person should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible. They should also eat in their own room.
-Use face masks – The sick person should wear a face mask when they are in the same room as other people. If you are caring for the sick person, you can also protect yourself by wearing a face mask when you are in the room. This is especially important if the sick person cannot wear a mask.
-Wash hands – Wash your hands with soap and water often (see above).
-Clean often – Here are some specific things that can help:
-Wear disposable gloves when you clean. It's also a good idea to wear gloves when you have to touch the sick person's laundry, dishes, utensils, or trash.
-Regularly clean things that are touched a lot. This includes counters, bedside tables, doorknobs, computers, phones, and bathroom surfaces.
-Clean things in your home with soap and water, but also use disinfectants on appropriate surfaces. Some cleaning products work well to kill bacteria, but not viruses, so it's important to check labels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of products here: www.epa.gov/pesticide-
How can I prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The CDC recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- People are encouraged to practice social distancing. As an individual, you can lower your risk of infection by reducing your rate of contact with other people. This includes staying at least six feet away from others if able. Other examples of social distancing that allow you to avoid larger crowds or crowded spaces are:
- Working from home instead of at the office
- Closing schools or switching to online classes
- Visiting loved ones by electronic devices instead of in person
- Cancelling or postponing conferences and large meetings
- 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 that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough, or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses is to:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- Stay home and do not travel when you are sick
- Avoid touching your face with your hands, especially your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Should I wear a face mask?
At this time, all who enter the hospital are asked to wear a face covering. If you do not have one, one will be provided to you.
Please visit the CDC's webpage on face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Where can I go for up-to-date information?
Facts about COVID-19, situation updates and travel guidance can be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus website.
You can find more information about the virus on the following websites:
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- World Health Organization
- Real-time dashboard of outbreak spread
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
If you are a patient and have additional questions, please contact your healthcare provider.