By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Integris Health officials are responding to the ever-changing and escalating situation surrounding the global spread of COVID-19.
Integris Health, which operates a community hospital in Yukon, is taking steps to better prepare for the possible influx of patients the coronavirus may bring.
Dr. David Chansolme, Integris Health’s medical director of infection prevention, pleaded with the public to take this threat seriously.
“Although the disease is mild in most people, it can be devastating to those most at risk – our older Oklahomans and those with immuno-compromising and serious health conditions,” Dr. Chansolme said. “It takes all of us to ‘take the bull by the horns’ here and try to ‘flatten the curve’. We don’t want to see a surge like they saw in Italy. We want to see a gentle slope so we can buy ourselves time to a vaccine or a medication.”
Instead of reacting to fear and panic, Dr. Chansolme encourages Oklahomans to exercise caution and common sense.
In Yukon, people will notice the check-in station at the entrance to Integris Canadian Valley Hospital at 1201 Health Center Parkway.
Visitor access to all Integris hospitals – including Canadian Valley – are limited to specific designated entrances like the main entrance and emergency department entrance.
Visitors who come to any Integris hospital are now required to register upon entry.
Plans continue to secure more staffing and supplies, officials said.
“We are identifying caregivers who can be reassigned to the areas they are most needed,” Integris Health spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said.
Integris Health is prepared – “as a system” – to handle what may be on its way, she added.
“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on a daily basis,” Cayot said. “We are working in partnership with the Oklahoma State Health Department, with guidance and instruction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our protocols are system-wide. The Yukon hospital is doing what is dictated from executive leadership.”
STAY AT HOME, WASH HANDS, ETC.
Integris Health officials are urging Yukon-area residents to stay at home (when possible), practice social distancing, washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
Local citizens have been encouraged to use elbows or fist “bumps” instead of “high-fives” and handshakes. People should cover any cough or sneeze with a tissue and not share food or drinks.
“We have a real opportunity to change the course of this disease,” Dr. Chansolme said. “It is the collective and individual responsibility of each and every one of us to do what we can to keep this virus at bay.”
The Yukon hospital’s emergency room is reserved only for those patients who exhibit symptoms of serious illness. Yukon residents should not come to the Integris Canadian Valley ER just to get tested for the virus.
“Working together can we contain the COVID-19 spread, but everyone has to do their part,” Cayot said.
The Integris Health spokeswoman provided a list of other virus-related preparations that have been made for Canadian Valley and other Integris facilities:
- An incident command center has been initiated.
- Visitation policy has been revised to limit number of guests in the hospital.
- Certain entrances and waiting rooms have been closed.
- Surge capacity is being evaluated through drills and planning exercises.
- “Virtual visits” are being encouraged instead of in-office visits.
- Caregivers have been asked to self-monitor for fever and other symptoms.
- More frequent cleanings have been added and number of hand sanitizer stations have been increased.
- Hand-washing reminders have been posted in highly visible areas.
For more information, call Integris Canadian Valley Hospital at (405) 717-6800 or visit https://integrisok.com/