Hospital provides COVID-19 update

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, April 16, 2020

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The Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual meeting on COVID-19 readiness Tuesday, April 14.

Chamber members were given the opportunity to call in and participate in a question and answer session with the leadership team of Centra Southside Community Hospital.

Special guests from Centra Southside were Tom Angelo, Centra Southside Community Hospital CEO; Dr. Bikram Bal, vice president of medical affairs; and Dr. Sunil Rajan, pulmonologist and critical care specialist. Bal and Rajan, along with many others, have been instrumental in the hospital’s COVID-19 readiness.

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Angelo shared that Dr. Kirsten Huber, chief of staff; Dr. Kevin Sullivan, emergency department medical director; Dr. Jody Hostettler, lead hospitalist; and Dr. Guilianna Allega, medical director of the Centra Southside Medical Center, have been on daily calls with the leadership team.

Also, a special thanks went to Chief Nursing Officer Claudia Meinhard.

“Our frontline caregivers have been caring for COVID-positive patients, and patients under investigation for over a month now,” Angelo said. “I am touched and inspired with their compassion. Our community is our family, our friends, our brothers, and sisters, and our purpose is to keep everyone safe and well.”

The overall Centra system has tested 1,081 patients with 80 positive results. 204 patients have been tested in the Farmville region with 141 negative results, 23 positive results, and 40 patients with pending results.

As of April 14, Centra Southside Community Hospital had five patients in the COVID unit. Two patients have tested positive for COVID-19. Three patients others are awaiting results.

Although testing is still somewhat limited, it is improving. Results from testing have gone from a seven-day turnaround time down to two days to receive results. Inhouse testing will likely be available within the next week to 10 days.

Centra Southside Community Hospital continues to provide testing in the Emergency Department and at the Centra Southside Medical Center as appropriate. It was noted that Centra Southside Medical Center was the second healthcare entity in the state to set up drive- thru testing.

Hospital preparation has been ongoing with COVID-19. The first stage, Alpha, had an eight-bed secure COVID unit in the hospital. Currently, the hospital is in the Bravo stage with a 15-bed secure COVID unit. As the census increases, the next stage is Charlie, which takes the hospital to a 26-bed secure COVID unit. The Delta stage is a 46-bed secure COVID unit. All 46 rooms will be outfitted with hepa filters to become negative pressure rooms.

The nurses at Centra Southside have been offered advanced intensive critical care training. Additionally, providers, along with infection control specialists and other staff have been assisting with preparations.

Strict hospital visitation restrictions have now been in place for over a month. No visitors are allowed, with few exceptions. Exceptions would be those patients that are dependent on another person. All patients and visitors are screened at the entrances to ensure the safety of caregivers and patients. Elective surgeries and procedures have been canceled indefinitely with the exception of emergent and urgent cases.

Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, supplies are improving. All employees, patients, and visitors are required to wear masks at all times. The community has responded in an overwhelming way to supply masks to the hospital. Local business, YakAttack, has been producing shields for the Powered Air Purifying Respirator. Multiple other business and community members have been donating items to the hospital staff during this unprecedented time as well.

“I cannot speak enough to the importance of social distancing and how much this will help us flatten the curve with COVID 19,” Angelo said. “Also, I cannot thank our board of directors enough for their support and our weekly readiness calls. Our caregivers have been wonderful, and you should be proud as a community. We are ready and have some of the best providers and caregivers from around the state here to keep us all well and safe. When this is over, we will celebrate and thank everyone for their graciousness and prayers.”