Officials with Dignity Health reached out to the County Times following the original publication of material to release additional information. This post has been updated to include that information.
The County Times has obtained information on ongoing events happening at Mercy Hospital — this area’s only major medical center.
According to an update by top hospital officials with Mercy Hospital…
- The hospital has tested 10 patients – 6 have come back negative and results are pending on the others.
- The hospital has put up Emergency Preparedness Surge tents.
- The hospital has suspended visitation to all areas of the hospital to limit exposure or possible exposure.
- The hospital has increased security presence on the main campus in Merced.
- The hospital has suspended all volunteer activity — including at the Gift Shop.
- The hospital has suspended performing elective procedures and outpatient surgery at this time.
Dignity Health is closely following the latest developments with coronavirus. They have noted that they remain in constant contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments and are implementing their recommendations as they learn more about this disease. Dignity Health officials have noted that the safety of their visitors, patients, local communities, employees, and physicians remains their highest priority and they are taking steps to limit the spread of the virus and care for those who need it. Additionally they will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
Free Virtual Care visits for Mild COVID-19 Symptoms
Dignity Health has release material stressing that one of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones is to stay at home. To encourage this social distancing as well as continue to support residents health and well-being they are offering free virtual care visits. If you or a family member have mild COVID-19 symptoms such as low-grade fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you can speak with a healthcare provider on your phone or device for free. Here are your options for accessing a virtual visit:
- If using your computer desktop, please go to https://www.dignityhealth.org/virtualcareanywhere.
- If you have an Android device, please download the app here.
- If you have an Apple device, please download the app here.
Once you register, enter the code COVID19 to waive the fees and proceed to your FREE visit.
Officials note that due to a high volume of requests at this time there are longer than usual wait times.
Information about coronavirus
Coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated to COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. COVID-19 is now spreading in many parts of the United States. While most people are at low risk of contracting the virus, it can spread through close contact with someone who is already infected. Learn more about how coronavirus is spread on the CDC website. Help prevent the spread of the virus
Certain behavior changes can help prevent the spread of coronavirus in our communities. Many states have implemented restrictions on large gatherings, and people are encouraged to practice “social distancing” by avoiding crowds and remaining 6 feet apart from each other while in public places.
Here are a few additional actions you can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Changes at Dignity Health hospitals
Some Dignity Health hospitals are changing their policies to help care for patients with coronavirus and prevent its spread. Changes may be made to visitation policies or pre-visit screenings. Some hospitals are also beginning to reschedule elective procedures and these decisions are being made on a hospital-by-hospital basis in coordination with local health departments.
For more information, visit your hospital’s website or contact your healthcare provider.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Patients with COVID-19 have mild to severe respiratory symptoms that can include fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath.What should I do if I am experiencing symptoms of coronavirus?
If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home or community:Stay home, except to get medical care. Restrict activities outside your home, avoid visiting public places, and do not take public transportation, ride shares, or taxis.
Contact your healthcare provider if your illness is worsening. Reach out to your healthcare provider by calling ahead before visiting the office. Tell your provider that you have or may have coronavirus-like symptoms so they can take steps to keep other people from getting infected. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have been, or are being, evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.
Wear a face mask. Wearing a face mask when you are around other people can help prevent the spread of the virus in your community.
Testing for coronavirus
Our healthcare providers are working with local health officials on coronavirus testing. Right now, only people experiencing symptoms are recommended for testing. In most cases, testing can be done at no cost.
Virtual health visits
Dignity Health officials are encouraging residents to consider virtual visits (via phone or video chat) instead of in-person visits, whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or not. For anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please take advantage of our video visit offering before being seen in person. Some doctors at Dignity Health offer virtual visits as an alternative to in-person visits — please ask your doctor or medical group office when you call in.
How are hospitals preparing to treat coronavirus patients?
Dignity Health hospitals such as Mercy Medical Center are following the latest guidance from the CDC and public health agencies. As such, they are prepared with staff, supplies, and equipment to identify, isolate, and treat any patients who seek care at our facilities. Staff trainings and planning sessions are ongoing, in partnership with local health officials.
We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. You can also find the latest on the CDC website as well as the website of the California State Health Department and the Merced County Department of Public Health.