Distributed to local media on 11/22/20
As cases continue to rise in our county and district, the staff at TCHS are asking all of you, our community, to please follow the necessary protocols and precautions when it comes to COVID-19. We recognize that there are many questions, and each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but we wanted to share some general information that may answer some questions and clarify misconceptions arising in our community.
What are the COVID-19 testing protocols/processes at Thayer County Health Services:
- COVID-19 test results are most accurate when testing 3-5 days from the onset of symptoms. Testing an individual too soon can result in a false negative.
- TCHS in-house testing (rapid) is only a valid testing method for symptomatic patients (again 3-5 days of symptoms).
- If your test isn’t a rapid test, it gets sent out to another lab that can take 2-3 days to get results back.
- TCHS is not testing asymptomatic individuals (aside from pre-ops). If you are asymptomatic and wish to undergo a COVID-19 test, we recommend utilizing a Test Nebraska site. A list of sites can be found here: www.testnebraska.com
- Due to limited testing supplies our rapid tests are used at the discretion of the provider, who will then determine the need for a rapid test based on the severity of symptoms.
- Due to limited supplies, we are unable to provide a COVID-19 test to every household member. Most often, the sickest family member will be tested. If other household members are also sick, assume you are positive due to having a direct exposure to a positive symptomatic individual. If additional household members wish to get tested, please utilize Test Nebraska sites. To be clear, TCHS is NOT turning away people who need medical treatment or who are wanting to be seen, we are simply trying to preserve our limited supplies as best we can.
What are the quarantine protocols and when should you quarantine?
- Symptomatic individuals should assume they are positive and quarantine until they are able to be tested and receive their test results. All household members must quarantine as well (no work, no school, no running errands) until results are received. If in quarantine, ask others to run errands/grocery shop for you. Several businesses in the community will deliver safely to you.
- If your COVID-19 test is positive, the positive individual must quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms and after those 10 days are complete, as long they have been fever free for 24 hours without medication and improvement in other symptoms, the individual can stop quarantining.
- Try to isolate positive individuals from other household members. You must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days from onset of symptoms because you can be contagious and spread the virus to others through 10+ days.
- Quarantine if you have close contact to a positive case (within 6 feet for 15 minutes w/o masks) for 14 days from the last close contact you had with positive individual. You can develop symptoms even on the 14th day of quarantine, so be very vigilant about your symptoms and take your quarantine seriously.
What is the current facility capacity and how does it affect the care TCHS provides?
- Currently we have visitor and vendor restrictions in place. However, we continue to provide the same quality healthcare to all of our patients. As cases across the area rise, we will continue to reassess the situation and notify the community of any impact it may have on our patients.
- We are very cognizant about our staff being stretched thin. We have implemented cross-training and are all working to share the extra workload that COVID-19 brings.
- We, along with other facilities in our district, are concerned about the healthcare resources of our hospital and other hospitals in the state over the upcoming weeks. As our referral facilities reach or surpass staffed bed capacity, it will become increasingly difficult to transfer patients to a higher level of care despite the diagnosis (COVID, MVAs, strokes, heart attacks). Facilities have a limited supply of beds, staff and other resources. If COVID hospitalizations do not decrease soon, healthcare providers across the state may be faced with extremely difficult decisions regarding who receives medical care.
We have a loyal and dedicated team here at TCHS and we understand the impact that COVID-19 has taken on the community. Wearing personal protective equipment is not easy and can be extremely draining for our staff; however, it is necessary to protect their own health so that they can continue to care for our patients. There are a variety of things you, our community, can do to help, such as wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain six feet of social distance, and avoid the three C’s (crowded places, close contacts, and confined spaces). These measures are extremely important and can help reduce the spike of positive cases in our area.
All patients with COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, etc. are asked to call ahead to (402) 768-7203 and schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the facility. Suspected COVID-19 patients will continue to be directed to the Emergency Room entrance at the hospital in Hebron.
The last thing anyone wants is a loved one in the hospital, and the best way to prevent that is by practicing COVID-19 precaution measures to stay safe from this deadly virus. As a facility full of your family and friends, we ask you to please help us slow the spread in our community and Nebraska as a whole. If we all do our part, we can have a direct impact. Remember, we are in this together.