TRMC staff stands ready

Published 7:09 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Troy Regional Medical Center staff are as well prepared as they can be for any potential increase in COVID-19 community spread, officials said on Wednesday.

“We’re seeing decreasing volumes, which is good,” said Rick Smith, CEO. “That tells us the community is heeding advice to stay home.”

To date, the hospital – which is one of four test collection sites in Pike County – has collected some 160 samples with two positive confirmations of COVID-19 virus.

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“We’re getting test results back in 36 to 48 hours,” said Amy Minor, chief clinical officer. To date, approximately one-third of the tests are still awaiting results.

However, Minor said the hospital is anticipating the addition of rapid-response tests, which produce results in less than hour. “We’ve requested those and hope to have them here by the end of the week.”

Calls to the hospital’s COVID-19 hotline are increasing, she said. “The hotline is manned 24 hours a day, and we have a series of screening questions that can help us determine if someone needs a test. If you do, we can arrange for someone from our lab to meet you at your car to collect the sample … you don’t even have to come inside the hospital.”

And while Minor said several patients have been admitted for overnight observations, none of the suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases have required extended hospital stays. “The cases we’ve seen here were well enough to be discharged back to their homes, where they continue to self-quarantine,” she said.

Experts are predicting that Alabama has yet to see a peak in COVID-19 spread. “I wish we knew when it will be,” Smith said. “Most reliable sources would tell us the end of April of the first of May is Alabama’s peak.”

And that is why the TRMC officials are preparing internally while urging the community to heed social distancing guidelines.

“A lot of this depends on how compliant the community is,” Minor said.  “If we continue going about our normal routines then we won’t see a slow down.”

“If you think about it, it really is a simple message,” Smith added. “We have to work. But we need you to stay home.”

At the hospital, staff have implemented new masking guidelines, requiring masks for all personnel – including administrative – and providing masks to all patients at the point of entry.  “If they are a potential COVID-19 patient, we will increase the PPE as appropriate.”

The hospital has received shipments of PPE equipment from the state health department as well as local EMA officials. “We’re in a good spot today,” Minor said. “We inventory our supplies daily and know what we need at any time.”

And, she added, the hospital was the beneficiary of a significant donation from Harbor Freight, which provided a large shipment of gloves and face shields.

“The community has really supported us,” she said, adding that various local businesses have provided meals for hospital staff and the employees are truly appreciative.

“These things mean so much to us,” Smith said. “These are local businesses supporting other local businesses and in turn supporting our staff and medical providers.”