COVID-19: What UP Health System – Bell Is Doing and What You Can Do

It probably feels as if coronavirus – or as it is officially known, COVID-19 – is all anyone is talking about these days. As COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses like the seasonal flu continue to spread across the U.S., you may feel a certain level of concern over how this disease could affect you or your loved ones, or if your local healthcare provider is prepared to respond to any local cases that may arise. That’s certainly understandable and natural. We want to provide you with essential information outlining what we are doing to stay prepared and offer you guidance on what you can do to help protect yourself, your family and our community.

WHAT WE ARE DOING
UP Health System is committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers, and visitors always. While COVID-19 is new, effectively responding to other infectious diseases is not. We have tested processes and plans in place to respond to situations involving infectious disease year-round. Here is what we are doing to stay ready and effectively respond to COVID-19:

  • We continue to work closely with the Marquette County Health Department and the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that we are prepared with appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to COVID-19.
  • We have a robust emergency operation plan in place and are reviewing and proactively completing a number of preparation checklists out of an abundance of caution.
  • We have hand hygiene products easily available throughout our facilities.
  • We are screening patients in our emergency department, inpatient units and outpatient clinics based on CDC guidance.
  • Staff treating a potential COVID-19 case are provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent exposure.
  • Patients with respiratory or COVID-19-related symptoms are immediately provided masks to wear to help prevent exposure to others.
  • In the event that we identify a potential COVID-19 case, we will follow all CDC and state guidelines for specimen and for placing that individual in isolation for their care and for the protection of other patients, employees, and visitors.

VISITOR RESTRICTIONS AND SCREENINGS
The following visitor restriction and screening guidelines have been implemented at all UP Health System hospitals per Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-07 for the State of Michigan:

https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-521697–,00.html

  • Effective immediately and continuing through April 5, 2020 at 5:00 pm, all health care facilities must prohibit from entering their facilities any visitors that:
    • Are not necessary for the provision of medical care, the support of activities of daily living, or the exercise of power of attorney or court-appointed guardianship for an individual under the facility’s care;
    • Are not a parent, foster parent, or guardian of an individual who is 21 years of age or under who is under the facility’s care;
    • Are not visiting an individual under the facility’s care that is in serious or critical condition or in hospice care;
    • And are not visiting under exigent circumstances or for the purpose of performing official government functions.
  • Effective immediately and continuing through April 5, 2020, at 5:00 pm, all health care facilities must perform a health evaluation of all individuals that are not under the care of the facility each time the individual seeks to enter the facility and must deny entry to those individuals who do not meet the evaluation criteria. The evaluation criteria include:
    • Symptoms of a respiratory infection such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat.
    • Contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

CLOSURES | UP HEALTH SYSTEM BELL

  • The Clinic Entrance to the hospital is closed until further notice
  • The Main Entrance to the hospital is open the following hours:
    • Monday through Friday: 6 am – 6 pm
    • Saturday and Sunday: 8 am – 4 pm
  • The Emergency Department Entrance is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • The Gift Shop is closed until further notice
  • The Coffee Cart is closed until further notice

These measures are in place to protect our facility and our community. Please know that our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, seasonal flu, and other respiratory illnesses.

WHAT CAN YOU DO
 It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with a barrage of news reports and social media updates regarding COVID-19. The good news is that there are some key steps you can take to help protect you and your loved ones and help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, including your phone, computer, remote controls and doorknobs
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available (Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty)
  • Practicing social distancing behaviors, including working from home, avoiding public gatherings and unnecessary travel, and maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others when possible

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS

First and foremost – if you are having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room. If possible, notify the dispatch agent that your emergency involves symptoms possibly related to COVID-19.

For non-emergency needs, if you need medical attention due to respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and plan to visit our hospital, your primary care provider or an urgent clinic, please call ahead before you go and let them know that you are experiencing symptoms that may possibly be related to COVID-19. This will allow providers to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.

Please be reassured that our number one priority is the health and well-being of our community – and that includes you. We are prepared to manage an outbreak of respiratory illness, and we encourage you to follow the guidance above and stay tuned to updates from the CDC to help protect you and your loved ones. Keeping our community healthy is a community effort, and we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our community healthy today and for generations to come.

We want to reassure our communities that it is safe to come to the hospital should you or your family need care. We stand ready to serve you.

For more information and to stay abreast of the latest updates on COVID-19, you can visit the websites of UPHS – Bell, Marquette, and Portage, and www.cdc.gov.

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