Limestone Medical Center expands testing resources
Staff recently sat down with the Journal at Limestone Medical Center to clear the air about COVID-19 and urge calm in the wake of current events.
Upon walking in, LMC staff is at the ready with a screening process that includes questions about symptoms and a temperature reading.
“We have test kits ready and available” LMC Marketing/Public Relations Director LeeAnn Freeman said. She is concerned that the rumor mill is preventing patients that truly need care from visiting due to overhype and fear.
“You have to limit sources where you receive information,” Freeman said. “In social media particularly, use credible resources and factual information and do not switch to a panic mode or say something that is not true.”
“The word pandemic entails chaos in itself,” said Infection Preventionist Nurse Corey Tunnell, highlighting negative language and terms of fear used around an illness that can be combatted.
They watch totals daily, and she said that part of the reason numbers are increasing is because hospitals have prepared and are readily testing. Hospital staff made the decision to not allow visitors in any capacity Tuesday with the exception of a minor child who may be accompanied by a parent or guardian or a patient who is under the care of a caregiver in response to statewide events.
Anyone with symptoms of any condition, pre-existing or otherwise, shouldn’t avoid care due to the issue. The hospital is still available and supplied to treat nearly any ailment.
“As long as they aren’t exhibiting symptoms, we encourage individuals to stay home,” Tunnell said, in agreement with the stay-at-home approach to reduce exposure and spread. With most businesses on skeleton staff, offering different modes of or closed entirely, the country appears to be joining in social distancing practices, disinfecting hands and surfaces, and containing the spread.
Federal officials previously approved antiviral medication in addition to another anti-malaria treatment. Tunnell noted that because the drug has previously been used, clinic trials are being performed but aren’t as necessary due to the human system’s well-documented reaction to the medicine.
“A vaccine typically takes to years to finish,” said Tunnell. “There are two treatments [currently being used], Plaquenil and Remdesivir.”
Testing is currently being performed by a commercial lab at a turnaround rate of 24 hours. Compared to some hospitals, the turnaround time is fast, though the FDA recently approved a 45-minute test Monday.
“The government put strict guidelines in for two weeks and we will evaluate them from there,” Tunnell said. “Texas is a dual reporting state, meaning that the lab and facility that ordered the test must report to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).”
Part of the reason more cases are being diagnosed is that testing has been made readily available statewide. With more tests conducted, cases diagnosed will inevitably increase, which is why we’re seeing more cases, according to Tunnell.
He highlighted national shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), stating that supplies were still at the ready locally with “processes and procedures in place.”
“When China shut down all its imports, that created a national shortage on personal protective equipment,” said Tunnell. “It’s something that we keep an eye on here constantly. We have to protect our staff and patients that come in.”
“We’ve set up internal measures to conserve if necessary,” Price said speaking of PPE and current supply levels. “To the public, all we urge is to remain calm”
Community members who have questions or concerns may call the Hospital Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (254) 729-3281 ext. 5034.