Editor’s Note: The following letter was written by Kimberlyn Bivins, director of marketing, AllianceHealth Ponca City.
I’m writing today with an update on AllianceHealth Ponca City’s preparation and response regarding COVID-19. Our executive and department leaders are monitoring local, state and federal guidance as it is updated in response to the ever-evolving situation. We are prepared to protect the safety and well-being of our care team and patients should any members of our community develop symptoms of COVID-19 requiring hospital care.
Admissions staff are carefully screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors of fever with a cough or difficulty breathing and exposure to someone with confirmed COVID-19 or travel from an area with a concentration of COVID-19 cases. To date, fewer than 10 patients in our hospital have had the risk factors or symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
As a patient suspected of having COVID-19 is identified, the individual is placed in a separate room or area away from other patients and given a medical mask to wear. Only a small care team interacts with the patient. The ED/attending physician will determine whether testing is needed, and will coordinate testing and the patient’s ultimate disposition in consultation with the department of health, as needed.
Infection control is top priority. Our staff members are trained in the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical masks, N-95 respirators, goggles and gowns. We actively maintain our PPE inventory based on the number of patients in our care, and appreciate our communities support and donations. Given the national and state shortage on these resources, we continue to preserve and conserve our inventory, all in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
Patients receive care thanks to the skills and compassion of the nurses, physicians, technicians and all members of our team. We understand our responsibility to protect our caregivers with the resources and practices to minimize unnecessary exposure to infection and we are restricting visitor access to the hospital at this time as part of this response.
For factual information about our hospital’s preparedness, I invite you to visit AllianceHealth Ponca City’s website/COVID-19. To learn more about the Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 response, visit https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/ and for in-depth information about COVID-19 visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov.