Munson Healthcare is blocking visitors to its long-term care facilities and dialysis centers to protect vulnerable patients from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
McLaren Northern Michigan is also limiting one visitor per patient, unless the visitor appears ill or is under 18.
The changes will ensure the safety of patients and staff as potential cases of the disease are found in Michigan, Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Christine Nefcy said in a press release.
“COVID-19 continues to cause a public health threat and as a health care provider we have an obligation to meet the needs of the communities we serve and protect those most at risk which include the elderly and people with underlying health conditions,” she said in the release.
Munson's long-term care facilities are located in Frankfort, Kalkaska, Grayling and Gaylord. The Munson Dialysis Center and the Elizabeth Hisick Dialysis Center in Traverse City and the Kalkaska Dialysis Center may allow some visitors who meet medical requirements.
Munson hospitals are also limiting visitors to the rest of its facilities, including emergency rooms. A maximum of two people can visit patients. Anyone under 18 will not be allowed in unless they are seeking care.
The hospitals also require all people entering and leaving to wash their hands or use sanitizer, as well as before and after leaving any hospital room.
Because of the number of test kits in Michigan, Munson says its testing is being limited to those patients who meet CDC and local health department criteria.
The hospital advises people not go to the Emergency Room, Urgent Care, or their doctor’s office for coronavirus testing because it could expose others to the virus and direct resources away from others.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever, a dry cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. Munson says there currently is no treatment for COVID-19 and anyone who suspects they have the disease should stay home and away from others, drink fluids and rest.
If patients are ill and feel they need to be evaluated, Munson says they should contact their primary care doctor or the local hospital. Additionally, the hospital says people who think they may have been exposed to the virus should consider whether their needs for medications, equipment or supplies are urgent.
Munson says people at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, including seniors and people with chronic conditions like a heart or lung disease and diabetes, should stay home as much as possible.
To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Nefcy recommends using the same standard precautions for the flu:
Wash hands frequently, for 20 seconds with soap, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95 percent alcohol
Cough into a tissue when possible (throw it away immediately) or into your arm if necessary
Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose
Avoid contact with those who are ill
Stay home from work if ill and keep sick kids home from school
Avoid contact with other people's hands (handshakes, high fives, and fist bumps can all transfer viruses)
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.