Feeling ill? Call first

Healthcare providers are encouraging patients feeling under the weather to call before going to the doctor or hospital, because of the coronavirus pandemic. If symptoms are mild to moderate, self quarantine is recommended.

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Local News

March 16, 2020 - 10:11 AM

Coronavirus (COVID-19) drive up testing being performed by staff at Assurance Scientific Laboratories at their facility in Birmingham, Ala. Photo by TNS

In order to help maintain normalcy at area clinics, hospitals and pharmacies it’s vital that those who suspect they may have the COVID-19 virus to not act on their first impulse — walk in their doors.

Instead, healthcare providers are asking those who suspect they may have the new coronavirus to first call their offices so they can assess the proper care as well as protect their environments so others do not come in contact with the highly contagious virus that is now a pandemic.

Health professionals say they will be able to adequately assess a person’s symptoms over the phone by asking if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, and whether they think they have been exposed to the virus through travel or personal contact.

If a person’s symptoms are mild to moderate, then self-quarantine is likely the best remedy, since at this point there’s no known medication to help treat the virus. About 80% of those infected exhibit mild symptoms.

As of yet, there’s no known protocol as to how local providers and the hospital will conduct the initial testing, if deemed necessary. In some communities, health professionals are stationed in parking lots or makeshift quarters where they can swab the cheeks and throats of those they suspect may be infected, to eliminate the risk of spreading the virus inside doctors’ offices and clinics. 

From there, the swab is sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in Topeka to determine if it is covid-19.

The scarcity of the tests prevents such detection being done locally.

EMPLOYERS are also encouraged to not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who report sick with the symptoms. 

This is a time for employers to adopt more lenient absentee policies and to prepare for higher than normal employee absences, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. 

Employers should encourage workers who are not feeling well to stay at home in order to keep their workforces healthy. Work sites should provide ample supplies including hand sanitizers and tissues and be diligent about keeping the workplace disinfected by routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as door knobs and counters, etc. 

Employers should also discuss with employees the need to minimize contact between each other by maintaining the recommended six feet distance as well as the option to work from home, if possible. 

Health professionals have learned that isolating the virus helps prevent its spread and recommend that in places where the virus has been discovered that people avoid gathering in public places and stay home as much as possible. 

So far, the nearest case has occurred in Franklin County. 

IN ADDITION to Iola’s closure of City Hall (see related story on A1), others are taking steps to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

All inmate visitation and inmate programs at Allen County Jail are being put on hold.

The Allen County Sheriff’s Department announced Saturday the programs and visitation sessions are canceled due to precautions for the COVID-19 coronavirus. For more information, contact the Sheriff’s Department at 365-1400 during normal business hours.

Meanwhile, Iola’s Sterling Six Cinemas has reduced its seating capacity to ensure no more than 50% of any auditorium is filled. B&B Theatre’s, which owns the moviehouse, said staffers have added “aggressive and heightened cleaning protocols and routines.”

TRAVEL GUIDELINES

On Sunday the KDHE requested those that have recently traveled to California, Washington state or New York to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Other destinations include the Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties in Colorado in the past week, as well as those who have recently traveled on a cruise ship or have traveled internationally since March 15. 

Because transmission of the virus can occur by touching an infected surface, health officials recommend that going to places like a gym or the grocery store at a time when there are fewer people and to bring along disinfectant wipes. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Sunday that Americans “should be prepared …  to hunker down significantly more,” as a society in the wake of the virus. 

It’s better to err on the side of caution when considering invitations to large gatherings, health officials say, especially for those over the age of 60 or who have underlying health conditions. 

You’re not being rude to decline an invitation; you’re being considerate by not exposing yourself — and others — to the virus. 

FOR MORE information, visit the KDHE website at kdheks.gov/coronavirus, call 866-534-3463, or email COVID-19@ks.gov.

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