COVID-19: Get the latest information, visitor restrictions, and service changes

The Augusta Health HICS has been activated

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

HICS (Hospital Incident Command Structure) is an integral part of all healthcare emergency preparedness response systems. It provides a standardized approach to the command, control and coordination of an emergency response. Generally, when HICS is mobilized, it's for a limited period of time, such as for several hours after a major accident or weather event. This is not the case with the current HICS. The COVID-19 HICS is likely to be operational for several weeks, and is dependent on how this situation continues to unfold.

COVID-10 Testing and Results

Augusta Health has been screening and testing patients as indicated and in accordance with best practice guidelines. As noted in the Virginia Department of Health daily updates, as of the time of this email, there have been no positive cases reported in Augusta County.

The Virginia Department of Health website is the best source of information for all positive results in the state. Our health district is the Central Shenandoah Health District (in the Northwest Health Planning Region)

Non-Essential Surgeries

In consultation with hospitals around Virginia, we have developed an algorithm to assist our staff.

  1. All patients scheduled for ANY type of surgery are screened for Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) symptoms and known risk factors. URI symptoms in the screen are fever greater than 100.4, cough and shortness of breath.
    1. If the screening is positive, surgery is deferred unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  2. If the screening is negative (no symptoms or risk factors), then:
    1. For Inpatient surgeries:
      1. If the patient has a severe underlying medical condition, the surgery is deferred.
      2. If the patient has a moderate underlying medical condition, the situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Surgery Section Chief, the Administrative Director of Surgery, and the Chief Medical Officer to determine if it should be deferred.
    2. For Outpatient/Ambulatory Surgeries (where the patient goes home after surgery), the surgery can proceed.

"People wonder why we just don't cancel all surgeries. We consulted with other hospitals around Virginia, and many are taking a similar approach. Augusta Health is in the position to continue with some surgeries, and will monitor and adjust our approach as needed. We always want to do what is in the best interest of our patients and community."

William Doherty, MD, Chief Medical Officer

Isolation/Negative Pressure Rooms

Augusta Health has expanded its isolation and negative pressure capacity to be prepared.