With each passing day, news of the Coronavirus brings new concerns—and questions. Are you and your loved ones at risk? Why does it seem to be spreading so rapidly? Most of all, what can you do to protect yourself from becoming infected?
Update as of March 27, 2020
We are grateful for so many community members asking how to help. Click here to see how you can help during this challenging time.
Changes to Pullman Regional Hospital operations:
As a hospital, we take the responsibility of keeping COVID-19 from spreading very seriously.
Updates to our visitation access:
- No visitors will be allowed for hospital inpatients at this time.
- BirthPlace patients may have 2 visitors per day.
- An adult chaperone may accompany a patient if necessary.
- Visitors and patients will be screened upon entering the hospital.
Other recent changes to hospital operations:
- The main hospital doors will be open from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
- Access outside of these times is through the Emergency Department entrance.
- The Red Sage Cafe and Diane's Gift Garden are closed to the public.
- All in person classes, support group meetings, educational presentations, community outreach programs and outside meetings held in the hospital's conference rooms are cancelled until further notice.
Current information on Whitman County cases and reporting
For the most current information on Whitman County cases and reporting, visit the Whitman County Public Health website.
Social Distancing to Prevent COVID-19 Spread
Dr. Gerald Early, Chief Medical Officer at Pullman Regional Hospital, gives his thoughts on COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing:
"If you are sick, stay home. If you are well, stay home. If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, mainly fever above 100.4, cough and shortness of breath, and you feel too sick to stay home, call your doctor for an initial assessment.
Social distancing does not mean playing basketball in the park with your friends or hanging out with people in an apartment. It means frequently washing your hands for 20 seconds, staying at least 10 feet away from people, going out only for groceries or supplies at low peak times, and wiping down all surfaces that you touch often with disinfectant wipes."
Social Exposure to COVID-19
It has crossed all of our minds that we may have come in to contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive and not even know it. We turn to the CDC for guidance on these situations when you may have attended a social event in which you hear that a fellow attendee tested positive for COVID-19. According to the CDC, this is a low risk exposure if you did not interact, touch or stand close to the person. Below is a table from the CDC as it relates to defining low exposure or no identifiable risk to a potential exposure that is not in a healthcare setting.
(assumes no exposures in the high-risk category)
Travel from any other country
Being in the same indoor environment (e.g., a classroom, a hospital waiting room) as a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time but not meeting the definition of close contact
No identifiable risk
Interactions with a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection that do not meet any of the high-, medium- or low-risk conditions above, such as walking by the person or being briefly in the same room.
The important thing to remember is, if you are sick or experiencing symptoms for any reason, stay home from work and call your primary care physician if indicated.
For questions about Coronavirus, please contact the Washington State Department of Health hotline at 1 (800) 525-0127 or contact your health insurance company for their nurse hotline.
How to Prevent Coronavirus Infection
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, use the same precautions you would for the flu and common cold. Pullman Regional Hospital recommends these infection-prevention practices:
- If you’re sick, stay home. Call your primary care physician if you suspect you have the virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve – not your hands – when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your home, workspace, shared items and other frequented locations.
- Avoid unnecessary contact with sick individuals.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, including fever over 100 and cough, to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
Symptoms of the Coronavirus
- Fever over 100.0 F
- Shortness of breath
What do you do if you think you have Coronavirus?
You should get tested if you have:
- Symptoms of fever or cough, and shortness of breath AND close contact (6 feet) to a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath that require hospitalization AND travel to China, Japan, Italy, Iran and South Korea in the last 14 days.
- Symptoms of fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness requiring hospitalization AND no alternative diagnosis can be reached.
If you have respiratory symptoms, please call your doctor before you leave home so staff can be prepared to care for you when you arrive. The following options can reduce unnecessary healthcare visits and prevent transmission of respiratory viruses:
- Advice lines, patient portals, on-line self-assessment tools, or nurse triage line if provided by your health insurance or provider office.
When is testing for Coronavirus not indicated?
- Cold like symptoms to include a runny nose, cough, and nasal congestion.
- Flu like illness to include fever, body aches, cough, fatigue may need to be tested for the flu, but will not require testing for covid19.
- Individuals with other illness such as stomach ailments who have returned from China, Japan, Italy, Iran and South Korea in the last 14 days do not need to be tested.
- Individuals who have a medical complaint and returned from overseas more than 14 days ago do not need to be tested.
What does COVID-19 testing involve?
If an individual does meet criteria, samples are taken and the specimen is sent to the state lab for processing.
What if I test positive for the COVID-19 virus?
A confirmed diagnosis may not require hospitalization. Treatment in a hospital will depend on the individual and the severity of symptoms they are having. It’s important to note that 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and although individuals may be diagnosed, not all of them will require hospitalization. Some will be sent home to await for test results with specific instructions on how to monitor their health and manage symptoms (self-quarantine).
Each flu season many people contract the flu and never know it. They do not get tested and they recover without difficulty. Most viruses do not significantly affect the general public; COVID-19 is following a similar pattern. Those over the age of 70 and those with some underlying chronic health conditions are at increased risk for complications related to the virus. The best things we all can do is stay home when sick and be diligent with hand washing.
What is Pullman Regional Hospital doing to prepare for the Coronavirus or COVID-19?
While COVID-19 is new, preparing for responses to disasters is not new to hospitals. Emergency preparedness training is a year-round activity that is done within Pullman Regional Hospital and throughout the state’s facilities, system and our region.
Pullman Regional Hospital regularly treats patients with a variety of infectious diseases. These patients are isolated and treated in appropriate spaces by trained staff using specialized equipment. Pullman Regional Hospital has negative pressure rooms used while evaluating and treating patients with airborne diseases such as Coronavirus.
When there is a threat of a disease that could cause a surge of patients, each individual hospital steps up its preparedness and coordination activities. Hospitals share information and best practices but also deploy the specific strategies that will work best in their own facilities.
We are working with the Whitman County Public Health Department and the Whitman County Emergency Management, along with other entities like Washington State University, Pullman Police Department, Pullman Fire Department, Pullman School District, Whitman Hospital & Medical Center, Pullman Airport to coordinate information and preparedness.