Coronavirus Preparedness at Augusta Health
Currently, there is extensive interest in the novel coronavirus identified in China, now with five reports of return travelers to the U.S. with this infection. At the moment, the Shenandoah Valley appears to be a low risk area for seeing this infection. However, due to the uncertainties of viral emerging pathogens, especially respiratory viruses, Augusta Health has taken multiple steps to be prepared in the event that the virus spreads or a return traveler comes to an Augusta Health facility.
Augusta Health staff meets regularly to discuss and drill emergency preparedness, including emerging pathogens such as coronavirus. The framework is in place to address any emerging pathogen or unknown illness. Because viruses can morph and change, Augusta Health's approach may change as the situation evolves.
Augusta Health is following the Virginia Department of Health and CDC guidance.
To date, our specific preparations have included:
- Meetings of the Emerging Pathogens Committee.
- Ensured adequate level of supplies.
- Notification to all medical staff, including community-based physicians, of practices and guidelines to manage potential patients who may arrive in a physician practice, Urgent Care or the Emergency Department.
- This includes two written Assessment Forms (one for the Emergency Department and the other for Urgent Care/Physician Practice) to be used to evaluate patients who have symptoms of coronavirus AND have traveled to China in the 14 days before symptoms or have had close contact with a person being evaluated for coronavirus.
- Direct contacts with the Central Shenandoah Health District for guidances.
Any suspected cases of coronavirus will be immediately reported to Virginia Department of Public Health. Questions regarding suspected cases or specific patients will be referred to public health offices. Virginia Department of Public Health has developed a novel coronavirus webpage to keep all informed: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/novel-coronavirus/.
To prevent any respiratory virus, people should wash their hands frequently; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; cover sneezes and coughs and stay home when sick.