By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Six people have died in Washington of coronavirus, and Oregon now has three patients who have tested positive for what authorities call “COVID-19.”
St. Charles Health System asks everyone to take precautions when entering hospitals and clinics.
Signs are posted at the entrances to every St. Charles hospital and clinic, directing people who are coughing, having difficulty breathing, fevers or chills to put on a mask and sanitize hands before entering.
“We are taking extra precautions at hospitals. We are asking people who are sick to put a mask on. We are enforcing that policy,” said Audrey Gudmundsson, St. Charles’ manager of infection prevention. “There will be people at the door to greet you and offer hand sanitizer and the masks if you have symptoms.”
Gudmundsson says if you are sick or have any flu-like symptoms, stay home. Don’t go out into the public. Don’t infect the community.
Anyone experiencing respiratory distress requiring medical attention should not go to the Emergency Room … call your primary care physician to make arrangements in advance of a visit, and wear a mask to prevent the spread of infection.
“If you don’t have a mask, practice good coughing etiquette. That means coughing into your elbow instead of into your hand,” she said. “That’s almost worse. We say there’s a 6 foot radius where your cough or sneeze can spread. If you are sneezing and coughing into your hands and then you are touching things, then you are spreading things wherever you go that virus. Cough into your elbow, keep it up tight. Make sure you are capturing your bugs into your elbow.”
Gudmundsson says there is less risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading in Bend compared to a crowded metropolitan area such as Portland, but she does expect the virus to arrive here.
She says St. Charles is prepared with adequate supplies and well-trained staff.
“The main thing is keeping your hands clean. It’s not a new intervention but it works,” she said. “We want our caregivers and our community to wash your hands, wash them often and keep them clean.”