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COVID-19 Precautions Expand

March 20, 2020

It’s now been several weeks since hospital leaders began rapid preparations for a COVID-19 community outbreak.  Next week, Sampson Regional Medical Center (SampsonRMC) will implement additional precautionary measures for the protection of its patients and healthcare workers, including staff screening, expanded visitor restrictions, and cancelation of non-essential surgical procedures. 

Staff Screening
Effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, SampsonRMC will begin screening all personnel (employees, contract staff, physicians, etc.) entering the main facility to reduce community spread of COVID-19. Personnel who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are advised to stay home and report to work until they are cleared by human resources and employee health. 

Visitor Restrictions
To the list of visitor guidelines announced earlier this week, the hospital is now restricting visitors of patients on isolation precautions.  The only visitor entrance into the hospital remains through the Emergency Room & Outpatient Entrance, accessed by Cooper Drive.  The entrance on Beaman Street is be closed to the public.  All visitors must submit to mandatory screening at check-in. Visitor restrictions follow:

  • Only one (1) visitor per patient
  • No persons under the age of 18 permitted
  • No visitors to patient rooms on isolation precautions
  • No person with a fever (determined at visitor screening)
  • No person displaying symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath), or other contagious illness
  • No person who has been exposed to COVID-19
  • No person who has traveled outside of North Carolina within the last 14 days
  • No person who has been in a large, crowded venue within the last 14 days

Non-Essential Surgical Procedures

Following recommendation of the American College of Surgeons, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the North Carolina Hospital Association, the hospital will suspend scheduling non-essential surgical procedures, and planned procedures will be delayed.  Patients requiring immediate surgical intervention or emergency procedure will continue receiving care.  By suspending non-time sensitive surgeries, the hospital can conserve resources that become scarce during COVID-19 response.  “This change reduces exposure risk for otherwise well patients, and it helps us conserve resources such as blood products, protective gear, and respirator masks that will be critically needed if our hospital faces widespread community outbreak of COVID-19,” explained Dr. Shawn Howerton, Chief Executive & Medical Officer for Sampson Regional Medical Center. 

Patients affected by suspended surgical procedures will be rescheduled by their surgeon’s office.  Patients with concern about the essential nature of their procedure should contact their surgeon or primary care provider.  

At time of release, Dr. Howerton reported no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at SampsonRMC but noted the hospital has tested and cared for patients with COVID-19-like symptoms. He remained adamant that precautionary measures implemented now will place the hospital in the best position to serve its community during outbreak.  “We continue taking this threat very seriously, and we will continue doing our part to support the public health system in slowing –and at some likely point, mitigating—the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Howerton. 

The hospital continues to monitor COVID-19 daily.  He and his team members are working collaboratively with local agencies related to public health and the physician community to ensure the hospital continues providing safe and quality care amidst the coronavirus.  Other precautionary steps include sizing up supplies, equipment, and medications and adjusting other normal operations in response to new information released daily.  

Anyone with additional questions regarding COVID-19 can follow Sampson Regional online at www.SampsonRMC.org/COVID-19 or on social media @SampsonRMC