Healthcare System Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Healthcare System Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

On Wednesday April 8, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) was notified by AppHealthCare (the health department) that an ARHS employee who had recently traveled has tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee did not provide direct patient care, has been in quarantine and is recovering at home. Additionally, ARHS has been working with the health department to identify other staff who may have been in contact with the employee who tested positive. Each of these employees has also self-quarantined.

“As a healthcare organization operating in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), we take very seriously our commitment to preserving protected health information and respecting the privacy of individuals infected by the virus,” said Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

ARHS will continue to work closely with AppHealthCare and local, state, and national health officials to ensure we are taking the strongest possible precautions to keep employees and patients safe.

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s COVID-19 response, please visit apprhs.org/covid19/.

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, lightswitches, 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.

 

Seeking donations of hand sanitizer

Seeking donations of hand sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is seeking donations of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“Our normal suppliers are not able to keep up with the demand and have cancelled the orders we placed previously,” said Rob Hudspeth, Sr. Vice President for ARHS.

Businesses or individuals with extra hand sanitizer are asked to help. We will gladly accept gifts of any size or container of hand sanitizer, including travel size bottles and spray pens. Donations must be alcohol-based, not homemade, and contain at least 60% alcohol.

If you have hand sanitizer to donate, please bring it to the security checkpoint at Watauga Medical Center or the front entrance at Cannon Memorial Hospital. If you have questions, please contact Brian Whitfield at bwhitfield@apprhs.org or 828-262-9105.

ARHS announces inaugural class of medical residents

ARHS announces inaugural class of medical residents

The third Friday of each March is known as Match Day in the medical school community. Match Day culminates a long process which “matches” soon to be medical school graduates with programs offering residency training. This year, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) was a part of Match Day as they prepare to welcome the inaugural class of medical residents to the new Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program that begins in June.

Molly Benedum, M.D., Director of the MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program commented: “We are enormously excited to welcome the first class of residents whom we are especially pleased are all from North Carolina. Their interest in our program indicates their strong commitment to spending their careers meeting the primary healthcare needs of communities across the state. We look forward to what they will accomplish in the years to come and to welcoming them to the High Country this summer.”

The following residents from the Class of 2023 will join the MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program this summer:

John Cunningham, M.D.

Fayetteville, NC
Dr. Cunningham received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is attending The University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Jeb Fox, M.D.

Bethel, NC
Dr. Fox received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University and is attending The University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Erinn Murphy, D.O.

Reidsville, NC
Dr. Murphy received her undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is attending The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia.

Lindsey Shapiro, D.O.

Davidson, NC
Dr. Shapiro received her undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University and is attending The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Carolinas.

The MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program, located at Watauga Medical Center, is a partnership between ARHS and Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) and will also serve as a clinical training site for medical students from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The program was created to train full-scope family doctors to serve in rural and underserved communities. Resident training will take three years, and ARHS and MAHEC are hopeful that many residents will choose to continue their careers in the High Country.
 
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.

Donate supplies

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
  • Homemade cloth face coverings

You 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 in Boone.

If you have any questions, or to receive a gift receipt for your donation, please 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