Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness Information Learn More
For Patients and Visitors
Update for 3/23/2020
Harris Regional Hospital continues to adapt to meet the clinical needs of our communities during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and through this, we remain committed to providing high quality care and protecting the health and safety of our patients, employees, physicians and community at large. We have been working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Healthcare Association following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An important element to our preparedness is minimizing the risk of exposure in any way we can, as we navigate this rapidly evolving situation and prepare for what the next few weeks may hold.
Given this, Harris Regional Hospital has made the difficult, but necessary, decision to reschedule non-urgent outpatient services and elective, non-urgent surgeries, when deemed clinically appropriate, for the next 30 days. Patients whose appointments are being rescheduled have been notified, and procedures will be rescheduled as soon as feasible. We are confident that this important operational decision will help minimize the spread of illness by limiting unnecessary contact between patients and providers. Harris Regional Hospital also continues to enforce the zero visitor policy. We are thankful and grateful for the overwhelmingly supportive response we have had to these decisions and implementations.
The trust our community places in us is so important. We want to assure our community that it is safe to come to our hospital should you or a family member need care. Our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to safely respond to viruses and infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
We appreciate your understanding and support as we continue to do everything we can to prepare for the potential impact of COVID-19 on our community. For more information about COVID-19, please contact the Jackson County Department of Public Health or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.
Effective 3.17.20, Harris Regional Hospital limited entry points to our facility and screening everyone – employees, patients and any permissible visitors – who enters the building. The following provides additional detail about both safety measures:
- Limited Entry Points: Until otherwise notified, everyone entering the facility should come through the main lobby or the west entrance. The emergency department entrance will be open for emergency room patients only. All other entry points will be closed until further notice.
- Screening Process: All patients, visitors and staff entering the facility will be screened with questions regarding respiratory symptoms and travel history, per CDC recommendations. Patients with symptoms will immediately be provided masks and managed per CDC guidelines. Based on the screening, visitors may also be asked to take their temperature, speak further with someone, or come back at a later date. Screening will occur upon every entry.
- Permissible Visitors: To protect our patients while continuing to meet the health care needs of our community, Harris Regional Hospital will be enforcing a zero visitor policy. Understanding that some scenarios may require a visitor for emotional wellbeing or as support, we have outlined the permissible visitors:
- A visitor may be allowed to visit loved ones who are gravely ill. The visitor will be asked to wear a mask and practice proper hand hygiene, while in the building. Visitors with signs/symptoms of respiratory illness will not be permitted to visit under this exception.
- A visitor may be allowed when their presence is essential to the patient’s emotional well-being. The visitor will be asked to wear a mask and practice proper hand hygiene, while in the building. Visitors with signs/symptoms of respiratory illness will not be permitted to visit under this exception.
- Labor and Delivery:
- No visitors and no siblings. One support person may be allowed to remain throughout the stay. The support person will be asked to practice proper hand hygiene while in the building. The support person will not be permitted if showing signs/symptoms of respiratory illness.
We know that these increased precautions may seem concerning. We do not want to cause alarm – but we do want to send a clear message to our community that we are prepared, responding appropriately and are committed to protecting the well-being of our patients, visitors, employees and community.
These increased safety measures do NOT mean that you cannot access the hospital or your providers. Please seek medical care as needed. And if you are concerned you may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call your provider in advance of going to his or her office. Of course, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Harris Regional Hospital values the trust our community places in us, and we appreciate your understanding as we shift our visitation policies during this time.
Our hospital is committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors. We are continuing to monitor the evolving situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are taking the necessary steps to ensure we are fully prepared to care for patients, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in partnership with our local and state health departments.
Below are a number of resources to help educate you and your family on COVID-19. For more information on the virus, please contact the Jackson County Department of Public Health.
- COVID-19 FAQ's
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
- Jackson County Department of Public Health
- Jackson County Emergency Management
- North Carolina Healthcare Association
- Healthcare Provider Guidelines
COVID-19: WHat Harris Regional Hospital is Doing and What You Can Do
It probably feels as if coronavirus – or as it is officially known, COVID-19 – is all anyone is talking about these days. As COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses like the seasonal flu continue to spread across the U.S., you also may feel a certain level of concern over how this disease could affect you or your loved ones, or if your local healthcare provider is prepared to respond to any local cases that may arise. That’s certainly understandable and natural. We want to provide you with essential information outlining what we are doing to stay prepared and offer you guidance on what you can do to help protect yourself, your family and our community.
What we are doing
Swain Community and Harris Regional hospitals are committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors at all times. While COVID-19 is new, effectively responding to other infectious diseases is not. We have tested processes and plans in place to respond to situations involving infectious disease year-round. Here is what we are doing to stay ready and effectively respond to COVID-19: We continue to work closely with the Swain County Health Department and Jackson County Department of Public Health and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that we are prepared with appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to COVID-19.
- We have a robust emergency operations plan in place and are reviewing and proactively completing a number of preparation checklists out of an abundance of caution.
- We have hand hygiene products easily accessible throughout our facility.
- We are screening patients in our emergency department, inpatient units and outpatient clinics based on CDC guidance.
- Staff treating a potential COVID-19 case are provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent exposure.
- Patients with respiratory or COVID-19-related symptoms are immediately provided masks to wear to help prevent exposure to others.
- In the event that we identify a potential COVID-19 case, we will follow all CDC guidelines for placing that individual in isolation for their care and for the protection of other patients, employees and visitors.
- We have implemented visitor restrictions at our facility as follows:
- Swain Community Hospital: Visitation has been suspended to the hospital inpatient unit until further notice.
- Harris Regional Hospital: HRH is asking the community to voluntarily restrict visitation with family members or friends currently in the hospital. Harris Regional Hospital is evaluating temporary visitation restrictions and will provide additional guidance on Monday.
- We have/are in the process of rescheduling non-urgent outpatients services, when deemed clinically appropriate, for 30 days.
- We have rescheduled all elective, non-urgent surgeries, when deemed clinically appropriate, for 30 days.
These measures are in place to protect our facility and our community. Please know that our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses.
What you can do
It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with a barrage of news reports and social media updates regarding COVID19. The good news is that there are some key steps you can take to help protect you and your loved ones and help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Staying home when you are sick
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, including your phone, computer, remote controls and doorknobs
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- Using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available (Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty)
- Practicing social distancing behaviors, including working from home, avoiding public gatherings and unnecessary travel, and maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others when possible.
What to do if you are experiencing symptoms
First and foremost - if you are having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room. If possible, notify the dispatch agent that your emergency involves symptoms possibly related to COVID-19.
For non-emergency needs, if you need medical attention due to respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and plan to visit our hospital, your primary care provider or an urgent clinic, please call ahead before you go and let them know that you are experiencing symptoms that may possibly be related to COVID-19. This will allow providers to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.
Please be reassured that our number one priority is the health and well-being of our community – and that includes you. We are prepared to manage an outbreak of respiratory illness, and we encourage you to follow the guidance above and stay tuned to updates from the CDC to help protect you and your loved ones. Keeping our community healthy is a community effort, and we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our community healthy today and for generations to come.
Hygiene Reminders from the CDC
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water
You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,
- Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
- Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
- Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.
Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Learn more here.
How to use hand sanitizer
- Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
For more information, visit the CDC website.