PCH Continues Local Response to Virus

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Nationwide, the COVID-19 virus appears to be peaking, as the numbers of new cases have stabilized in most parts of the country. In Arkansas, the virus has claimed over 40 lives as nearly 1,900 positive cases have been reported. Here in Clay County one resident has tested positive, while another 101 negative test results have been reported. The county's lone hospital, Piggott Community Hospital, has served as the base of operations for the regional battle—although they have yet to admit a patient with the virus.

Monday afternoon, prior to his weekly conference call with Little Rock, hospital administrator and CEO James L. Magee provided an update on the facility's recent work on the forefront.

“We continue to do quite a bit of testing, but the requests have begun to subside some,” he explained. “I think we have tested around 230, and at this point there have been five positives. All of those people were from out-of-state, none were from Clay County.”

Magee also indicated the hospital continues to take advanced measures against the spread of the deadly virus, as they have the past several weeks.

“We're continuing our no-visitation policy. And, we're checking temperatures, and having everyone fill out a questionnaire, for those coming into our ER waiting room,” he added. “All the employees are also being checked at the start of their respective shifts—and that includes myself as well as the doctors.”

He also noted the cooperation with regional healthcare providers has been key in the response.

“Each Thursday we have a conference call, which involves about 10 hospitals here in Northeast Arkansas. We discuss mutual problems and how to plan for and respond to them,” Magee offers. “We get a lot of good input, and find out how the others are doing in handling various challenges.”

In addition to regional and state officials, PCH also draws from the resources of the other hospitals in the state by way of of the AHA. “We also have a meeting each Monday afternoon with the Arkansas Hospital Association and they update us on all of the statewide issues, and provide us with ways to deal with the virus from their aspect,” he adds.

Although the images of crowded big-city hospitals dominate much of the national news, smaller facilities have seen a downturn in general due to the virus' impact on other aspects of healthcare. With fears of contracting the virus, many have avoided elective surgery, maintenance visits and even necessary treatments. According to Magee, PCH is beginning to see a return to normal.

“We are glad to see what we feel is a little more volume lately with our clinics and such. For a period of time now people have pretty much stayed in, but things are getting a little looser and more of them are getting out to seek healthcare,” he explained. “It's not back to normal numbers, but there has been an uptick. People with chronic ailments can only go so long without seeing their healthcare providers for such things as checkups, but things are getting a little better.”

Magee noted the nationwide shortages have also been felt on the local scene, although most items are plentiful. “On the supply side, with the exception of masks and gowns we continue to be better off than many facilities,” he added. “Other than those two items we're in good shape. But of course, all employees, especially those in the patient care area, are masked at all times.”

And, although the local facility has been the site for nearly a half-dozen positive tests there are still no COVID-19 patients at PCH.

“We still haven't admitted anyone with the virus to our hospital, although we did transfer a patient from or ER to St. Bernard's,” Magee reported. “We also admitted a few who had symptoms, but later tested negative. As of today, we have not admitted a virus infected patient.”

Under the no-visitation policy those wanting to check on a patient may call the hospital at 870 598-3881. Those wanting information on an ER patient should ask for extension #1306 while those wanting admitted patient updates should ask for extension #1300. Those needing additional information should contact the Charge Nurse, Director of Clinical Services or the Hospitalist.

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