~ Press release issued by Valley Health on Monday, April 6
WINCHESTER, April 6 — As the number of positive tests for COVID-19 in our service area rose last week, the Governors of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland ordered residents to stay home.
Valley Health continued to prepare, promoting telehealth visits, further curtailing non-emergent services, and adding sites for those with respiratory symptoms. Valley Health continues to advocate social distancing, telework for all who can, and frequent, thorough hand washing.
As we use greater quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, we are also launching a community appeal to collect 10,000 hand-sewn masks over the next two weeks.
In his weekly video update, Valley Health President and CEO Mark H. Merrill described Valley Health’s recent efforts to provide important healthcare services through telehealth virtual visits.
The COVID-19 Respiratory Care Phone Line and telehealth appointments, as well as the Respiratory Care Clinic for those with symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms – offer access to healthcare providers while minimizing exposure.
Referencing the goal of “flattening the curve,” or the rate at which people are testing positive for COVID-19, Merrill reinforced the importance of social distancing. “Simply put, we must stay away from each other as much as possible, sheltering in our homes and not leaving unless absolutely necessary,” he said.
“Everything Valley Health is doing and asking our community members to do is with the intention of flattening the curve – this means interacting directly with as few people as possible to slow the spread of infection. This will help reduce the number of active cases, which will allow hospitals time to better prepare for and manage a surge of COVID-19 patients.”
In keeping with the Virginia Governor’s order, Valley Health has extended the suspension of community outreach events, classes, support groups and other gatherings until June 10.
Valley Health Respiratory Care Clinics Open in Front Royal, Mt. Jackson and Martinsburg
Valley Health opened three more Respiratory Care Clinics last week in Front Royal and Mt. Jackson, VA, and Martinsburg, WV, to serve individuals with respiratory symptoms in those communities. Clinic providers conduct a thorough evaluation, including x-ray, for individuals who have been referred after calling Valley Health’s respiratory call line, or completing a telehealth screening with their personal provider or Urgent Care center staff. The intent is to isolate sick, potentially contagious respiratory patients from others coming in for care. Both clinics will be open Monday – Friday, 8am- 8pm, and Saturday 10am-6pm. Valley Health’s first Respiratory Care Clinic opened two weeks ago in Rutherford Crossing, on the north side of Winchester.
Outpatient Services Limited System-wide
For the safety of its patients, providers, staff and community, Valley Heath has temporarily curtailed a number of elective and non-essential outpatient tests and procedures at its facilities around the region.
Due to the growing incidence of COVID-19 nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and numerous medical professional organizations have advised medical facilities to postpone non-urgent outpatient visits to protect both patients and clinicians. Valley Health will continue to conduct outpatient tests and services for patients whose condition is emergent or urgent as determined by their physician.
Approximately 30 tests or services are being impacted, from elective medical imaging exams like DEXA bone scans, x-rays and ultrasounds for patients without active symptoms, to services like sleep studies and outpatient rehabilitation. In certain cases, services may still be offered but in a different manner. Many outpatient rehabilitation services will continue, for example, but with added screening and precautions in place. The Diabetes Management Clinic will continue to offer services, but will transition group classes to 1:1 appointments and will offer the Diabetes Prevention Program class via teleconference. Valley Health staff are notifying all scheduled patients about any changes.
Shenandoah Oncology, Cancer Center and Wellspring Update
As COVID-19 continues to spread across our state and community, providing care to vulnerable populations and keeping them safe during this pandemic continues to be our top priority. Shenandoah Oncology Associates, an independent medical practice within the Valley Health Cancer Center on the Winchester Medical Center campus, announced last week that it has closed the office to patients and staff until April 20. Over the next two weeks, medical oncologists will hold telehealth visits or appointments by phone with their patients. While this means a delay in some chemotherapy treatments, Shenandoah Oncology is working with the hospital to accommodate patients whose treatments can not be delayed.
Other services at the Valley Health Cancer Center remain open, including Radiation Oncology and The Breast Center. Staff health is monitored closely, and all patients are screened and temperature scanned as they enter the building.
Last week, Wellspring, Winchester Medical Center’s off-site resource for those living with cancer, has closed until its unique support and salon services can be offered again.
Valley Health Launches “Sew Helpful” 10,000 Masks Campaign
Valley Health announced an interactive challenge that provides community members an opportunity to put their creative talents to work to meet a crucial need.
Valley Health has launched its “Sew Helpful Community Challenge” with the goal to collect 10,000 handmade masks in two weeks. The masks will help us preserve and extend the health system’s supply of PPE needed to care for patients in the days ahead.
Challenge details are on Valley Health’s web site, including step-by-step instructions and a how-to video for making masks that offer the highest level of protection. For those who sew but do not have appropriate mask material, a limited number of pre-cut mask kits are available for pick-up. Call 540-536-8158 for more information.
There is also information on how to donate other supplies, and ways to help our community win the battle against COVID-19: www.valleyhealthlink.com/COVID19
Valley Health is heartened and encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of support its staff and facilities have received from the community, including donations of food for employees, PPE supplies and monetary support. To learn more about how you can help our community win the battle against COVID-19, visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/howyoucanhelp .
Please email [email protected] if you can help.