DOUBLE SPRINGS - Ashley Pool, CEO of Lakeland Community Hospital, sent out an important message at an emergency meeting attended by state and local officials Thursday, about steps the hospital is taking during the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The hospital has six negative pressure rooms that will be used for suspected or positive COVID-19, Pool stated.
There are currently no confirmed cases in Winston County.
Lakeland has a limited number of COVID-19 testing kits, so patients who fear they may have symptoms should call or contact their primary care provider or call ahead before coming to the emergency room, Pool pointed out.
The issue hospital officials are facing is getting those test results back in a timely fashion. “It is taking anywhere from seven to 10 days to get a result back,” she said.
The hospital is also working with other labs that have now been cleared to do rapid testing, but that type of testing is mostly in larger cities, Pool explained to the audience.
This past week, Lakeland initiated Incident Command under its emergency operations plan, according to Pool.
On Friday, a daycare was opened for hospital employees only, due to local daycares having to temporarily shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Every day, the hospital is in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and the Alabama Department of Public Health, making decisions based on their guidelines.
Any personal protective equipment that must be worn by staff must strictly meet CDC guidelines, Pool said.
“We are critically short on supplies,” Pool pointed out. “It’s not just us. It’s every hospital in the United States.
“We’re low on gowns. We’re low on masks. There is an allocation on gloves.” The hospital currently is needing gloves, the CEO stated.
Local stores are providing assistance to Lakeland, since the hospital is unable to obtain bleach.
The hospital is prepared to care for any critically ill patients, especially those in relation to COVID-19, Pool added.
The state did have 750,000 of the highly sought-after N-95 masks that had been stockpiled in Montgomery, she said.
“They have gotten emergency clearance from the government to release those to Alabama hospitals,” Pool said. The hospital on Thursday received a shipment of N-95 masks, Pool confirmed.
Lakeland’s emergency room procedure for testing
The hospital currently has 29 test kits. If someone in the community thinks they may have COVID-19, if their illness is not emergent, they should contact their emergency care provider and stay at home unless it’s an emergency at which time they are urged to call the ER. The contact number number is 205-485-7102.
When the person checks in the emergency room, the doctor makes the determination if they need the COVID-19 test, according to Pool.
It is imperative that those ages 65 and older adhere to social distancing to keep down the spread of COVID-19, Pool stated.
If a person has a physician’s order to be tested for COVID-19, they should call ahead and come to the emergency entrance door. “We don’t want anyone to come into the hospital until we make sure we have a mask and everything else on,” said Pool.
“The outpatient testing is done outside. We don’t bring the outpatient testing inside at all,” Pool pointed out.
The emergency department is equipped with a negative pressure room. Any patient who presents to the ER with symptoms of COVID-19 is immediately placed in that area, she said.
Due to the Order issued Thursday by Governor Kay Ivey, no visitors are allowed in the hospital except for extraordinary circumstances such as end-of-life care or care of a pediatric patient, Pool stated.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has placed a digital sign in front of the hospital on Highway 195 explaining some of the procedures that should be followed.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.