CONWAY, Ark. (March 10, 2020) – As the country continues to monitor the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Conway Regional Health System has spent weeks preparing for a potential influx of the virus to Central Arkansas and the River Valley. The health system has protocols in place for staff, providers, and physician partners to address potential patients who may be at risk for COVID-19. With the plan in place, at-risk patients will receive prompt treatment and isolation from other patients and visitors in order to reduce the risk of transmission.
Conway Regional President & CEO Matt Troup said the organization has been preparing extensively to address the virus and provide the best possible care to its patients.
“We are closely monitoring the spread of this virus, and we are prepared with protocols in place should a case of COVID-19 arise,” said Troup. “As always, our highest priority is the health and safety of our patients, visitors, and staff. We are following the latest guidelines on preparation and prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we are working closely with the Arkansas Department of Health for local and state guidance.”
The health system is committed to ongoing communication with healthcare leaders at the national and local level, as well as working with leaders in the community and throughout Arkansas. Conway Regional is providing dedicated resources to an Infection Prevention Response Team who are on-call to address concerns and potential cases. Mallory Smith, M.D., Infectious Disease Specialist, says that the health system has implemented protocols should a patient at risk for COVID-19 enter a Conway Regional facility, including a screening of travel history and current symptoms.
“If a patient is concerned that they may have COVID-19, or may have been exposed, they should consider calling their local provider before coming in for evaluation in order to reduce the risk of exposure for others,” said Dr. Smith. “Those experiencing symptoms who do come in for evaluation are given a face mask and taken to an isolated room to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients and guests. They are then connected with our Infection Preventionist who takes the appropriate steps to care for the patient.”
For patients with mild symptoms, such as a low-grade fever, cough, or other respiratory problems, Michael Fahr, M.D., Emergency Medicine, says the best method of action is to call their health care provider in advance of leaving their home.
“To help protect our most vulnerable community members, at-risk patients should avoid visiting the hospital or emergency room unless their symptoms are severe, such as high fever, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, and should instead call their health care provider for guidance,” said Dr. Fahr. “Our health system is prepared to answer phone calls and direct patients to the best method of care.”
In addition to these screening steps, Conway Regional staff are staying up to date on current guidelines and recommendations with frequent taskforce meetings and weekly phone calls with the Arkansas Hospital Association.
While these steps are crucial to preparing for COVID-19, the best method of infection prevention is proper hygiene.
To help prevent the spread of illness, individuals should wash their hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds; stay home when sick; avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth; cover their cough or sneeze; and avoid close contact with others who are sick. If you think you may have COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms of the virus, contact your regular health care provider, or call Conway Regional at 501-329-3831 to be connected with a member of our Infection Prevention Response Team.