To help stop the spread of COVID-10, Salem Memorial District Hospital is now re-routing outpatients and patient visitors to the north front entrance for outpatient registration. This applies to anyone coming into the hospital for non-emergency reasons.

“We are asking that only individuals that need emergency medical attention go through the emergency entrance,” said Jason Edwards, chief operating officer. “We currently have this information posted on Facebook and our website.”

COVID-19 has been confirmed on multiple cases in the state of Missouri by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Due to the spread of the virus across the nation, it has been declared a national emergency.

“Salem Memorial District Hospital must be able to serve our community and protect our staff,” Edwards said. The hospital has participated in several calls with the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, the White House, the Missouri Department of Health, the Southwest Healthcare Coalition the Dent County Health Department, the Dent County Emergency Management and the Missouri Hospital Association.

“We are currently following the guidance in our Pandemic Flu plan, which was set up by the Emergency Management Committee, and are in the process of working on patient surge strategies to ensure we are prepared if a large number of patients come to the hospital,” he said.

“By following the pandemic flu plan, we would determine who would be hospitalized or isolated and would advise the public of the status of any outbreak.”

SMDH has designed and implemented an alternate screening area for any suspected COVID-19 patients. This will be for patients arriving to the hospital for emergency department care. The family medicine clinic also has processes in place for any suspected COVID-19 patients if they arrive at the clinic building or call ahead.

There are precautions the public can exercise, minimizing their risk of exposure. The best prevention to reduce your exposure is to wash your hands, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, avoid contact with your eyes, mouth and nose, avoid contact with sick people and stay home when you are sick.

The symptoms of the coronavirus are in line with the flu, such as fever, respiratory symptoms and so on. Right now, the distinguishing factor is the travel history. If you’ve traveled to one of the areas that have been identified with positive cases or you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s had the coronavirus, STAY HOME AND CALL YOUR DOCTOR’S OFFICE OR EMERGENCY ROOM. Make sure to call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Currently, the hospital has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, gowns and face shields. “However, like most other healthcare facilities, we are now only receiving an allotted amount from our vendors,” Edwards said. “Therefore, we are keeping a close watch on our supplies so that it does not create a shortage for our facility.”

This has been a consistent topic with all Missouri hospitals. SMDH is constantly in contact with state and government agencies to try and rectify this concern and anticipate additional supplies in the coming days, he said.

Until further notice, the Salem Memorial District Hospital will be implementing the following for all guests and visitors:

No visitors will be allowed in Long Term Care. End of life situations will be the exception. SMDH will work to coordinate virtual visits (like FaceTime, etc.) as needed.

In all other areas, one designated family member or support person is allowed per patient/per day. Pediatric and end of life situations will be the exception.

All patient visitors will be screened and must pass an initial screening to visit the patient.