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Merit Health update on COVID-19 efforts

I’m writing today with an update on Merit Health Natchez preparation for the presence of COVID-19 in our community. Our executive and department leaders are monitoring local, state and federal guidance as it is updated in response to the ever-evolving situation. We are protecting the safety and well-being of our care team and all patients should any members of our community develop symptoms of COVID-19 requiring hospital care.

Staff is carefully screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors of fever with a cough or difficulty breathing and exposure to someone with confirmed COVID-19 or travel from an area with a concentration of COVID-19 cases. To date, fewer than 15 patients in our hospital have had the risk factors or symptoms of COVID-19 infection. As of this morning, a total of three positive cases have been identified in Adams County.

As any patient suspected of having COVID-19 is identified, the individual is placed in a separate room or area away from other patients and given a medical mask to wear. Only a small care team interacts with the patient. The ED/attending physician will determine whether testing is needed, and will coordinate testing and the patient’s ultimate disposition in consultation with the department of health, as needed.

Infection control is a top priority. Our staff members are trained in the appropriate use of personal protective equipment, including medical masks, N-95 respirators, goggles and gowns. We actively maintain our PPE inventory based on the number of patients in our care and we have sufficient inventory to tend to our patients. Our resources are being increased so we are prepared for the event of a surge in patients. We are preserving and conserving our PPE inventory in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Patients receive care thanks to the skills and compassion of the nurses, physicians, technicians and all members of our team. We understand our responsibility to protect our caregivers with the resources and practices to minimize unnecessary exposure to infection and we are restricting visitor access to the hospital at this time as part of this response.

Merit Health Natchez and all healthcare organizations and caregivers in the community are focused on responding appropriately to this monumental health emergency. We applaud our community for their actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we are grateful to the Mississippi Department of Health for their leadership and to our medical staff. The public’s participation in social distancing and staying home is critical to reduce the number of people who are infected. Our hospital is just one piece of the needed action to fight COVID-19.

For factual information about our hospital’s preparedness, I invite you to visit MeritHealthNatchez/COVID-19. To learn more about the Mississippi Department of Health response, visit msdh.ms.gov and for in-depth information about COVID-19 visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov.

Lance Boyd

CEO of Merit Health Natchez