Beginning Friday, July 10, Blount Memorial Hospital will again be COVID-19 testing all inpatient admissions.
“We made the decision to resume the testing, which initially ceased about a month ago, to help ensure the hospital environment -- including our patients, staff and facilities -- stays protected as the number of COVID-19 cases have continued to increase in Blount and surrounding counties over the course of the last several weeks,” Blount Memorial chief medical officer Dr. Harold Naramore said.
“Cases are on the rise, and we’re keeping a close eye on that,” he said. “By testing our inpatient admissions, we can quickly know if patients coming into our hospital have COVID-19, whether they are symptomatic or not. This information is valuable to us and our patients, as we can isolate anyone who has COVID-19 from other patients and place them in an area of the hospital where we can provide specialized care.”
Naramore said while hospital staff all have some level of personal protective equipment on at all times based on the area in which they work, knowing whether the patient the staff is caring for has COVID-19 or not may mean the hospital can preserve PPE for a potential large-scale outbreak.
“Our levels of PPE continue to be good, but by taking cautious steps such as this, we can continue to conserve our stock, little by little, so that if these cases spread more rapidly than what we’re seeing now, we never find ourselves in a position to not offer protection to the doctors, nurses and support staff our community will be relying on to care for them.”
At this time, the hospital is not returning to the testing of all pre-surgical or pre-procedure patients four days prior to their scheduled procedure. However, surgical patients who require a hospital admission will be tested upon admission.
“Our surgical and procedural teams have continued to take additional precautionary steps we put into place back in May when the Governor’s executive order was lifted and these services were able to resume,” Naramore said.
“We will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity in our hospital and in our community, and as we have from the beginning, will continue to adjust our plans to best meet the needs of our patients, while also continuing to protect our patients, staff and facility from unnecessary exposures,” he said. “We’re staying prepared, not panicked, just as we have done since February.”
Naramore also continues to encourage our community to help the hospital fight this virus in Blount County.
“We need our community to help us by taking simple precautionary steps that can help lessen the spread of the virus in our community,” he said. “Wear a mask when you’re out in public or around others and pay attention to the space around you – stay 6 feet apart as much as possible. We know the virus is susceptible to heat, so wash your hands with warm or hot soapy water, and if that’s not available, use hand sanitizer multiple times throughout the day.”
Most importantly, Naramore said, if you’re not feeling well and have the signs and symptoms of the virus, stay home. Call your primary care physician’s office for direction on whether you should present for testing.
“The medical science on these preventive steps is strong, and, we really need our community’s help to stop the virus’ spread.”