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Guidance for use of cloth masks and face coverings

Guidance for use of cloth masks and face coverings

Photo: Homemade Cloth Masks

AppHealthCare and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) are following the guidance for use of cloth masks or face coverings by the general public as issued by the recommendations recently issued by the CDC. The CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

“We know that community transmission is occurring in North Carolina and even though we have a lower number of identified cases in our communities at this time, we believe additional tools should be added to our toolbox to help lessen the effects of COVID-19. The use of cloth masks or face coverings by the general public should not replace social distancing and other everyday prevention measures like handwashing, covering your cough or sneeze or staying home when you are sick,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

“The use of cloth masks makes so much sense toward combating the spread of COVID-19. As such, we encourage everyone to use them, particularly in public locations where social distancing is difficult to maintain,” stated Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS).

The use of cloth face coverings will not protect you from other people’s germs. It is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. This would be important if someone is infected with COVID-19 but does not have symptoms. According to the CDC, recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic or presymptomatic). This is why it remains important for people to stay home as much as possible and only go out for essential trips.

Download a pattern for making a cotton face mask > 

 

Important Points about Cloth Masks and Face Coverings

    • They should cover your nose and mouth.
    • They can be worn when out in public where you may be near people like grocery stores or pharmacies.
    • They are not a substitute for social distancing. People should still keep 6 feet of distance and stay home to the greatest extent possible.
    • They can be made from household items with common materials at low cost.
    • They should not be used on children under the age of 2, people who have trouble breathing or anyone who would be unable to remove the covering without assistance.
    • They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. You can wash the face covering in the washing machine.
    • After you remove a cloth covering from your face, you should be careful not to touch your face and wash your hands immediately after removing.

Due to the short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. A healthcare worker or first responder should continue to use surgical masks and N95 respirators since these provide better protection from infectious diseases.

The CDC provides guidance on instructions for how to make a cloth face covering for both sew and no sew options and using materials like fabric, t-shirt, and bandana. You can also view a how-to video by Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General.

We are encouraging people to protect themselves to help lessen the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. There are many ways we can all protect ourselves and our communities.

 

How to Protect Yourself

    • Practice social distancing which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping 6 feet or more between you and others and remaining at home to the greatest extent possible
    • Frequent hand washing
    • Stay home when you’re sick
    • Keep distance from others who are sick
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles
    • Wear cloth mask or face covering when out in public where you may be around people like grocery stores or pharmacies

If you have surgical masks or N95 respirators and are willing to donate them, they can be dropped off at the front entrance of Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville or at the security checkpoint at Watauga Medical Center in Boone.

We appreciate those in our community who are willing and able to make homemade face coverings.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and will work to keep the public informed. Please visit our website for more information – www.AppHealthCare.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at  cdc.gov/coronavirus.

 

ARHS takes care of employees with CDO supplemental pay

ARHS takes care of employees with CDO supplemental pay

Photo: Chuck Mantooth with ARHS employees

Emergency Department staff with Chuck Mantooth, 2019

On Thursday March 27, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) announced a new supplemental pay program, called COVID Days Off (CDO) to assist full time and part time employees whose hours have been reduced due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Patient volume in ARHS hospitals and clinics has been drastically reduced, which means employees may be asked to work fewer hours.

Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO, said that the reduction in patient volumes was self-imposed, stating, “over the past two weeks, in preparation for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, we chose to postpone elective procedures, surgeries and routine office visits in our clinics. Effectively, we set aside much of what we normally do to deal with COVID-19. Due to this decline, we asked some employees to take time off.”

The CDO program gives employees an opportunity to work in other areas at ARHS, when their regular hours are reduced. It also allows them to earn their same rate of pay, regardless of the new assignment. If an alternative assignment cannot be found, employees who have agreed to participate in the CDO program automatically receive CDO pay up to their normal compensation amount. Employee participation in CDO is by choice. In lieu of CDO, employees may also use accrued paid time off. Currently the CDO program will be offered through April 18, 2020.

“The purpose of CDO is to ensure that ARHS employees have a full paycheck, as we work together against COVID-19,” said Mantooth. “Right now our employees are experiencing so much stress related to COVID-19. Hopefully this program will help relieve their financial strain until economic relief is available.”

How can the community help?

How can the community help?

The COVID-19 pandemic creates new challenges daily for ARHS and for our patients. We are fortunate to have so many in our High Country community ask us how they can help in the response to these unprecedented times. Here, we’ve listed several ways you can help. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from community members, local businesses, and organizations so far.

If you would like to donate supplies, please fill out the form below or contact Brian Whitfield at bwhitfield@apprhs.org or 828-262-9105.

Make and donate homemade cloth face masks

Photo: Staff-with-Donated-MasksOn Friday, April 4th, the CDC made an announcement regarding the use of simple cloth face masks and recommends individuals wear homemade cloth face masks in addition to adhering to the 6-foot social distance requirements and frequent hand washing to slow the spread of the virus.

ARHS employees working in non-clinical areas are encouraged to wear homemade cloth face masks, and ARHS will continue to accept homemade cloth mask donations

Donors can drop these items off at the front entrance of Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville or the security checkpoint at Watauga Medical Center.

For more information about donating masks please contact Brian Whitfield at bwhitfield@apprhs.org or (828) 262-9105.

Donate to the ARHS COVID-19 Response Fund

You can donate to support the ongoing efforts of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System to respond to COVID-19, or to directly support patients in need.

Click here to donate online >

You may also mail a check to the address below, or contact Brian Whitfield, Director of Development, at (828) 262-9105 or bwhitfield@apprhs.org.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation
PO Box 2600
Boone, NC 28607

Donate to COVID-19 Patient Emergency Fund

You can donate to support the ongoing efforts of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System to respond to COVID-19, or to directly support patients in need.

Click here to donate online >

You may also mail a check to the address below, or contact Brian Whitfield, Director of Development, at (828) 262-9105 or bwhitfield@apprhs.org.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation
PO Box 2600
Boone, NC 28607

Blue ridge energy donates N95 masks to ARHS

Blue ridge energy donates N95 masks to ARHS

Blue Ridge Energy BuildingOn Monday March 23, 2020, Blue Ridge Energy donated hundreds of N95 masks to ARHS in an effort to help ARHS protect its caregivers.

An N95 mask is a special type of mask used among health care workers to protect against dangerous airborne particles. As the coronavirus continues to spread, supplies of such masks may become limited, and many companies are donating from their own supplies. At this time there are no shortages of needed medical supplies at Watauga Medical Center or Cannon Memorial Hospital.

“Having enough personal protective equipment to ensure that our dedicated caregivers are appropriately safeguarded is one of our highest priorities, and we can’t thank Blue Ridge Energy and our community partners enough for their generous contribution to that cause,” said Chuck Mantooth, ARHS President and CEO.

Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 77,000 members in northwest North Carolina. Its propane and fuels subsidiary also serves customers in the cooperative’s service area and beyond, including parts of Virginia, Catawba and Burke counties in North Carolina.

If You Would Like to Donate Supplies

Organizations or community members that are interested in donating PPE supplies to ARHS should contact Brian Whitfield at (828) 262-9105 or bwhitfield@apprhs.org. Thank you for your generosity in helping to support our organization and the patients we serve.

At this time we are accepting gifts of personal protective equipment to include:

  • Medical grade surgical and procedure masks
  • N95 respirator masks
  • Face Shields
  • Gloves
  • Gowns
  • Hand Sanitizer

If you would like to receive a tax receipt letter, please contact Brian Whitfield at bwhitfield@apprhs.org or 828-262-9105.

 

Learn more about ways you can help >

ARHS will begin temperature screening for employees and contractors

ARHS will begin temperature screening for employees and contractors

On Wednesday March 25, ARHS began requiring ALL employees and contractors at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital to undergo temperature screening prior to beginning work. This temperature screening will occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The temperature screening process will involve quickly having your temperature taken. If your temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or less, you will be cleared to work for the day.

If you temperature is greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, employees will not be allowed to work and instead be given written instructions about how to proceed, including:

  • Going home for the day
  • Contacting their manager
  • Contacting RelyMD for a screening
  • After screening, contact Occupational Health (Crystal Minton)

 

Temperature Screening Locations

 

Watauga Medical Center – All employees and contractors must enter the building through the staff entrance (basement doors) nearest the parking deck, to have their temperature screened.

Cannon Memorial Hospital – All employees and contractors must enter the building through the front entrance of the hospital to have their temperature screened.

While this new process may pose minor inconveniences, we ask that you consider its value in protecting patients and fellow employees from spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Thank you for all you are doing to serve the needs of our community during this difficult time!

In-person pickup of medical records temporarily suspended

In-person pickup of medical records temporarily suspended

To protect the health of our patients and staff during the COVID-19 public health emergency, in-person pick up of medical records is temporarily suspended.

Patients may utilize the options below to access their medical records.

 

1. FollowMyHealth patient portal

 

The health information you need may be available in the FollowMyHealth patient portal.

The portal contains portions of electronic medical record information for many patients and is available at no cost.  If you need assistance with the patient portal, please call (888) 670-9775 or send an email to support@followmyhealth.com

If the information you need is not available on the patient portal, you must submit a request to obtain copies of your medical records.

 

2. Fax my Medical Records

 

Download the HIPAA Authorization for Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital

 

The Authorization Form includes hospital services, cancer services, cardiac & pulmonary rehab, heart & vascular services/ center, emergency room services, infusion services, sleep services and wound care/pain clinic services.

Please complete the form and fax it to:

  • Watauga Medical Center    828-265-5014
  • Cannon Memorial Hospital 828-737-7531

 

Please complete the form and fax it to:

  • AppFamily Medicine: (828) 386-2223
  • AppGastro: (828) 265-3305
  • Appalachian Regional Internal Medicine Specialists: (828) 386-2750
  • Appalachian Regional Pulmonology: (828) 386-2201
  • AppOrtho: (828) 386-2664
  • Baker Center for Primary Care: (828) 737-7713
  • Boone Urology Center: (828) 265-3611
  • Davant Medical Clinic: (828) 386-3352
  • Elk River Medical Associates: (828) 898-8306
  • Harmony Center for Women: (828) 262-1587
  • Tate Clinic: (828) 737-6869
  • Watauga Surgical Group: (828) 262-0731

 

3. Mail my Medical Records

 

You may request an authorization form be mailed to you by calling the appropriate number below.

Watauga Medical Center:              828-262-9581, select option 2

Cannon Memorial Hospital:             828-737-7547

Appalachian Regional Medical Associates:  Please call the appropriate medical office where you received services. Phone contact numbers can be found at this link.

If you receive voice mail, please leave your name and a contact number so we can return your call.

Thank you for helping us keep you, your family and the community safe and healthy.

For more information, please visit, apprhs.org/records.