COVID-19 protocols examined - measures taken

Cathy Decker/Correspondent

ALEDO -- Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been labeled a “pandemic” and day by day changes are being communicated by the federal, state and local governments urging citizens to be vigilant and even stay in their homes. One of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s recent pronouncements was made Friday (March 20) at around 3 p.m. -- an order for all Illinois residents to “Stay at home.” That order went into effect on Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m. with an end date of April 7. The governor’s initial proclamation on COVID-19 was dated March 5, 2019 and labeled “Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation.”

  All Illinois press conferences and proclamations can be revisited at the Internet

  Carla Ewing, administrator at Mercer County Health Department, has been busy for the past three weeks or so, becoming familiar with recommendations on the recently declared pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19). “We have had multiple conference calls, webinars and of course constant updates,” she said.

  Her office has pushed a lot of information to “congregate living areas, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities with up-to-date recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health.

  This includes restricting many visitors from coming to the facilities. “Nursing home protocols, such as “social distancing” (which encourages a six-foot separation between people) are being recommended.

   To stop the spread of the virus -- stay home -- was health department representative Ewing’s advice. “If you are sick, please stay home,” she said.

   There is a COVID-19 test available for individuals, but only with recommendations from a medical professional. A series of questions need to be answered and if a COVID-19 screening is needed, the professional will recommend it by calling the health department. “Their provider calls us and we would go through the criteria for testing,” she said. Then a vaccination may be given.

  “There are no walk-ins for this,” said Ewing.

   Testing will be done in one of two ways -- either through a set-up by the department of public health, or by a private laboratory. If a private lab is to be used, the medical professional will have the locations for this.

   Ewing admitted there were not enough tests for surveying everyone. “That’s why it’s limited,” she said.

   Only the sickest or those at high risk will be tested. Criteria includes the person’s age, whether there is a compromised immune system or if there are chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or lung conditions.

   Facility visitor restrictions seem to be one of the biggest suggestion, as well as meticulous hand washing.

 Genesis Health System, Aledo (the hospital) does have an alert on its web site to call ahead with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. The hospital address is 509 NW 9th Ave. and phone is (309) 582-9100.

   Visitors will be allowed in (usually only one at a time), with some restrictions. Effective Wednesday, March 18 none of the COVID-19 symptoms can be present in a visitor -- fever, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. Children under age 16 will not be allowed, except under extraordinary circumstances.

   Some of the exceptions include end of life patients (two visitors are allowed) or if the visitor is key to the patient’s care. Minors under age 18 may have one visitor, parents or guardians. In addition, patients with surgery or procedures scheduled may have one visitor, as well as patients visiting the ER, or a laboratory or the radiology department.

   Genesis Health System opened a mobile collection sample site beginning Wednesday, March 18 in Davenport, Iowa. The site will only serve patients who have been referred there by a Genesis medical provider. Screening will be for COVID-19, seasonal influenza and strep.

   Samples will be collected by a provider or nurse outfitted in protective clothing, including a gown, goggles, mask and gloves. Each test should take only a few minutes. The samples will be collected through lowered vehicle windows. Individuals will be notified of their results by phone with appropriate instructions.

   On Saturday, March 21, President Donald Trump held a press conference addressing the need for more protective face masks and how this problem is being addressed, both locally and nationally.

   The mobile collection sample site became available 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., seven days a week at 1520 West 53rd Street, Davenport, 52806. A second location in Moline is planned.

   As of Friday, March 10, the Genesis Health Group (clinic), located at 1007 NW 3rd St., was still holding walk-in clinics on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with hours 7 a.m. to noon and 1 - 6 p.m. Receptionists at the front desk will offer visitors a small face mask for protection during check-in. Call and make an appointment at (309) 582-9450. Tuesday and Thursday hours at the clinic are from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.