Your health and safety is our first concern. MidMichigan Health is collaborating with national, state and local agencies to identify and care for patients with COVID-19. Recent updates include:
As a service to the community, MidMichigan Health has published a COVID-19 informational hotline with a reminder of CDC guidelines and recommendations. The hotline can be reached toll-free at (800) 445-7356 or (989) 794-7600.
The following FAQs, with input by the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, help to answer common questions related to the virus.
What is COVID-19
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Specifically, the spread can occur between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The spread also can occur from contact with infected surfaces or objects.
In addition, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
What are the prevention measures for COVID-19?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. If you haven’t already done so, get a flu shot. As with the flu and other viruses, general hygiene precautions can help reduce the risk of getting ill. Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. And, disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
What is the treatment of COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine to treat or prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Wash 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.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Who is most at risk from infection?
Both COVID-19 and influenza are most dangerous to people who are older than 65, or have chronic illnesses or a weak immune system.
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. If you haven’t already done so, get a flu shot. As with the flu and other viruses, general hygiene precautions can help reduce the risk of getting ill. Handwashing is important. Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. And, disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
What should I do in case of an outbreak?
It is best to keep a 30-day supply of essential medicines and household items on hand at all times. And, if not already done, be sure to get a flu shot.
How are you going to prevent myself or my loved one from getting COVID-19?
We are highly focused on our patients and their caregiving team. MidMichigan Health, in collaboration with national, state and local agencies, is reviewing and reinforcing processes for identifying and caring for patients with COVID-19 in the event that it is required.
Our Incident Command teams across the health system are meeting regularly to discuss possible scenarios and we are carefully monitoring the news as it evolves. We are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and working with state and local partners to make sure we are prepared for a possible threat to our community and our state.
Currently, general preparedness measures that have been completed, are in development and are ongoing at MidMichigan Health include:
- Reinforcing patient travel screening and triage questions based on CDC recommendations for Emergency Departments, Ambulatory Care, physician offices and clinics, and inpatient settings.
- Updating our electronic medical record (EMR) system with references/advisories for staff to identify patients who may be at risk for COVID-19 based on their travel history.
- Working with the local health departments re. testing for patients meeting criteria.
- Following CDC guidelines for handling tested specimens.
- Outlining/mapping isolation procedures and areas.
- Sharing information on COVID-19 patient management with appropriate clinical staff.
- Equipping clinical areas with protective clothing and equipment to be used in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case.
- Following comprehensive procedures for disinfecting patient rooms and removing/disposing of linens and cubicle curtains.
- Preparing to communicate with state departments, employees and media in case of highly-suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Providing via the MidMichigan Health website CDC information on COVID-19, visitor policy information, and signage.
What education are you providing your staff about the virus?
The COVID-19 Task Force is disseminating educational materials with ongoing updates to MidMichigan Health staff in a variety of venues, such as:
- Daily safety briefing updates
- MidMichigan Health intranet
- MidMichigan’s COVID-19 Toolkit, CDC materials, Health Department news
- EPIC best practice advisories and travel screening
- MidMichigan Health internet home page
- MidMichigan Health Facebook page
- Attend staff meetings as requested
Does MidMichigan Health have the right equipment to treat a patient with COVID-19?
Yes, MidMichigan Health is prepared in the event of receiving a COVID-19 patient. Contingency planning for a larger outbreak are currently underway.
Has MidMichigan Health dealt with outbreaks like this in the past?
We have been preparing for emerging diseases and viruses for many years, such as SARs, small pox, monkey pox, and Ebola, and have policies in place. With each disease and virus we have made necessary adjustments to our policies and procedures based on recommendations from the CDC.
What are your screening tools you are using to check if someone has COVID-19?
For your protection and for the protection of our community, we are asking all patients coming to any MidMichigan Health subsidiary if they have recently traveled outside the United States and/or had contact with someone with recent travel and exposure to COVID-19.
What if a person were to answer yes to the travel screening question?
If a patient answers yes, they would be asked to put on a mask and be taken to the facility specific location for care. The infection prevention manager would meet the care team to decide how to provide the safest care possible while protecting staff and other patients. The patient would be interviewed to learn more about their travel history and who they have been with for tracing and follow-up. In addition, we would begin the process of confirming the diagnosis in coordination with the state and CDC test centers. Confirmatory testing may take 24 hours for the diagnosis. If they present to a location other than the Emergency Department, they would be given a mask and will be directed to the designated Emergency Department.
Where does the patient go while they await their tests results?
Staffing, isolation room availability, patient condition, and many other factors are necessary for the team to make a unified decision in placing the patient.
What occurs if a patient suspected with COVID-19 presents in a physician office?
MidMichigan Health is screening all patients at every encounter. If a patient is suspected with COVID-19 and presents to a physician’s office, the office would complete the initial screening and communicate that to patient placement while having the patient put on a mask. The Infection Prevention team would be notified to clarify and make recommendations with a team for placement and direction on entering the building while minimizing exposure to others.
What should I do if I suspect I may have COVID-19?
For the safety of all, if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider immediately. If your provider office is closed, please contact Urgent Care or the Emergency Department prior to coming for direction on next steps.
What are you doing to protect visitors to MidMichigan Health locations?
As cases of the flu continue to be reported and there is a heightened alert to the growing coronavirus outbreak, MidMichigan Health is protecting patients and staff at its Medical Centers by keeping visitor restrictions in place for the remainder of the flu season. Only those visitors who are healthy, without symptoms of illnesses, will be allowed to visit patients at MidMichigan’s Medical Centers in Alpena, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Midland, Mt. Pleasant and West Branch. In addition, upon registration for Medical Center appointments, patients will continue to be screened for recent travel outside of the country.
Is it necessary to postpone or cancel travel arrangements?
The CDC provides recommendations on postponing or canceling travel. These are called travel notices and are based on assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to a certain area. A list of destinations with travel notices is available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
- Warning Level 3:CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to destinations with level 3 travel notices because of the risk of getting COVID-19.
- Alert Level 2:Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should talk to a healthcare provider and consider postponing travel to destinations with level 2 travel notices.
- Watch Level 1:CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices because the risk of COVID-19 is thought to be low. If you travel, take the following routine precautions:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 - 95 percent alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.