Memorial Health to implement COVID-19 screening process on Thursday

ByBria Bolden|March 4, 2020 at 7:18 PM EST - Updated March 4 at 7:49 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - With the number of COVID-19 cases growing across the world, hospitals in Savannah are taking action to protect staff, patients and visitors from the virus.

Memorial University Medical Center will be limiting public entrances and looking for symptoms from potential patients and visitors. Starting Thursday, Memorial Health team members will be screening patients and visitors for COVID-19 right outside the door.

After health officials announced two cases of COVID-19 in Fulton County, Ga., Memorial Health says the hospital will be rolling out prevention procedure plans at all their locations. Doctors at Memorial Health say staff members will ask visitors and patients a series of questions about possible symptoms and whether they've recently traveled to areas around the world where the virus is most severe.

Associate Chief Medical Officer and Director of Pediatric Diseases, Dr. Stephen Thacker says there are no cases at Memorial Health, but they plan to continue this screening process until the virus is managed.

"I want our community to see this not as a sign of panic, but rather confidence that our health system is prepared to protect our patients, their families and our community during this evolving time of uncertainty with this virus,” Dr. Thacker said.

Dr. Thacker also says the hospital plans on being one of the first in the area to test for the virus once testing kits become available.

The St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System has also implemented procedures at its facilities. Visitor restrictions are currently implemented for any visitor with flu-like symptoms. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – head covers, eye protection, gowns, gloves, coveralls and disposable boots – are currently stocked and designed to handle patients suspected of having an infectious virus. All emergency room staff is trained on guidelines for putting on and off PPE, according to the health system.

The health system states doctors are in contact with the Center for Disease Control as well as the Georgia Department of Health.

St. Joseph’s/Candler states it is currently screening patients for COVID-19 by:

  • Asking about recent travel history or contact with people who might have traveled to countries with sustained COVID-19 transmission.
  • Determining if symptoms include
    • Fever
    • Cough (lower respiratory illness)
    • Shortness of breath

All testing for COVID-19 will be ordered by the Georgia Department of Public Health or CDC.

Photo: Getty Images

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