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SFC leaders discussing stay-at-home order
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SFC leaders discussing stay-at-home order

Health Center prepares for coronavirus

While St. Francois County is holding steady at three confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, the county is discussing enacting a stay-at-home order, Health Center Director Amber Elliott said on Friday.

The health board and the county commissioners are both in full support of an order to slow the spread of the virus, according to Elliott.

“We are working on a draft version of an order right now,” Elliott said, “and we’ll work to come to an agreement on what that order will look like.”

Elliott said she would be working to finish a draft on Friday and then they will continue the discussion through the weekend.

Any order should be a collaborative effort between the health center and county commissioners to protect citizens, Elliot added.

“We have a good relationship with county commission,” Elliott said. “They understand the importance of this issue regarding COVID-19 and want to protect our citizens and enact this order to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Residents will at least have a 24-hour notice before any order in enacted and not everything will shut down.

“It’s not like a Christmas Day where everything’s closed,” Elliott said. “People will still be able to get their groceries. People will still be able to get their medicine. Essential businesses, critical infrastructure businesses will still be open. It’s not quite that everyone is locked down and no one can go anywhere. There’s more to it than that, thankfully.”

There are 15 pending tests from the county that they are aware of, according to Elliott.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had St. Francois County listed as having four confirmed cases but Elliott said the state duplicated one case and the number is actually still three.

“We’re kind of in a holding pattern right now, thankfully,” Elliot said. “We haven’t had any new reported cases at this time, but we certainly expect to see confirmed cases as time goes on.”

One of the three women from the county who have tested positive is still in the hospital. A second woman had been in the hospital, Elliott said, but was released Friday afternoon.

Elliott said she is in constant contact with Parkland Health Center and they have been planning for it since people first started talking about the coronavirus.

“I’m confident in their ability to take this on and to help us navigate this in our county,” Elliott said.

Elliott also stressed the importance of social distancing and hand washing to prevent this from being a huge burden on the healthcare system.

“The more people follow the recommendations to maintain social distancing and to stay home and do good handwashing regularly, the more we slow the spread of this disease over time and prevent that huge surge to the healthcare system,” Elliott said. “At the end of the day, that is going to save lives.”

According to Elliott, any resident that has a fever greater than 100.4 or a dry cough should stay home and call their healthcare provider. If a resident is experiencing shortness of breath, they should call the hospital before arriving.

The health center was experiencing phone issues on Thursday and Friday, but they have been resolved and residents are being encouraged to call 573-431-1947 with any questions or concerns.

They also posted answers to many common questions they’ve been getting on their website under the COVID-19 updates tab at http://sfchc.org/covid-19-updates/.

There are currently 670 confirmed cases in Missouri and nine deaths. Jefferson County has 15 cases while Perry County has six. Iron, Ste. Genevieve, Madison and Washington Counties have no reported cases. 

Most municipal buildings have closed due to the pandemic. On Friday, Farmington announced it was closing its city parks to avoid the spread of the virus.

Parkland Health Center update

The team at Parkland Health Center has been working diligently to put protective measures in place to support the safety of patients and staff during the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease) outbreak, according to a release from the hospital Friday afternoon.

In conjunction with its partners across BJC HealthCare, along with state and local health departments and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Parkland Health Center has already introduced measures to prevent risk, including the cancelation of elective surgeries and appointments, enforcing a no visitor policy, and implementing symptom screenings of patients and staff in order to provide the safest care environment possible as this situation progresses, the release said.

“The health and safety of our patients, staff and community is – and always will be – our top priority,” said Tom Karl, president of Parkland Health Center. “Parkland Health Center has taken extensive measures to ensure our facilities and staff are prepared to treat suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients effectively, while continuing to adapt to this evolving situation.”

As preparations for additional cases of COVID-19 continue in our community, Parkland Health Center is also implementing an expedited hiring process to increase the number of available team members, according to the release. To inquire about current open positions, candidates are encouraged to call 573-760-8182 and speak to a member of the local Human Resources team. Candidates will be asked to provide their name, contact information, and position of interest. This information will be reviewed by Parkland’s local hiring team, who will try to match the candidate’s area of expertise with a current opening. All potential candidates who meet current hiring needs will be contacted for a formal interview, medical screening, and other necessary on-boarding procedures (to be conducted virtually) to be placed in temporary positions throughout the months of April and May as needed.

Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at noverfelt@dailyjournalonline.com.

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