FLORENCE, S.C. — The Pee Dee’s two community health centers, HopeHealth and CareSouth Carolina, are making adjustments to their procedures because of the coronavirus.
Both have adjusted intake procedures and limited the number, and type, of people who can accompany patients to appointments.
“If you’re sick, suffering with an injury or even have a condition that isn’t under control — like high blood pressure that is being closely monitored — CareSouth Carolina will continue to see you normally in the office,” according to a media advisory from the agency.
“At the front doors of our offices, we are having a screening team in place,” CareSouth Carolina CEO Ann Lewis said. “Going through this process could confusing to folks. We need to make our premises as safe as possible, not only for those who are seeking us for their needs, but also for our staff.”
“Part of that screening involves taking a person’s temperature and, if necessary, issuing them a mask,” according to the advisory. Visitors are limited to the patient and one other person who is there in some “assistance capacity.” “CareSouth Carolina is asking that people not bring their children with them if at all possible,” according to the advisory.
“CareSouth Carolina is advising patients to call before they come to the office. For patients who are not sick (those who have wellness or routine follow-up visits), we are offering to reschedule or to have a telehealth/telecommunication visit with a provider as a way to protect them from being potentially exposed.”
HopeHealth has implemented changes recommended by its response team, which meets daily to discuss the pandemic.
“This includes limiting visitors accompanying patients to their appointments to one healthy individual, ensuring sanitizer is available, intensifying our cleaning routines and schedule, and limiting size and frequency of meetings in order to practice social distancing,” said Deena Hilton, chief administrative officer at HopeHealth.
HopeHealth, as of Tuesday evening, was not treating any COVID-19 cases, spokeswoman on Donna Tracy said, though clinicians have identified a group of people who need to be aware of the risk posed to them and the risk they may pose to others.
“Individuals who have traveled or been part of large groups have more reason for suspicion, so we highly recommend social distancing per the CDC guidelines, which includes no visitors to your home, limited grocery shopping, minimized contact for essential workers,” Tracy said.
“This is the pattern we are currently looking to test, but we still have no positive cases or treatment or have a need for treatment. If you are concerned that you have been exposes, treatment for mild cases involve self isolation and symptomatic care such as hydration, rest, etc,” Tracy said.
While there haven’t been any COVID-19 cases to appear at HopeHealth yet, several staff members are self-isolating.
“In an abundance of caution, we have chosen to send a few staff members home until we can rule out potential exposure to COVID-19 due to possible outside and community exposures,” Tracy said.
Both health care centers are looking toward telemedicine as a way to serve healthy clients without exposing them to unhealthy patients.
“In an alternative for patients who were coming in for wellness visits or routine follow-up, we have implemented telehealth visits,” Lewis said. “We have a whole team who is dedicated to checking in with patients, seeing if there is a need and a way to do a video conference or talk on the phone. We have a good system in place.”
“Everyone has been incredibly flexible and open to nontraditional ways of care while we work to enroll more patients into the patient portal and prepare them for the possibility of telemedicine visits,” Hilton said.
“We’re not sure how long this will last, but we need to be active right now,” Lewis said.