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University of Iowa Health Care offers new options for patients regarding COVID-19

(Cropped Photo: Dr. Jayesh Amin / CC BY-SA 3.0) (MGN Image)
(Cropped Photo: Dr. Jayesh Amin / CC BY-SA 3.0) (MGN Image)(KWQC)
Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 4:32 PM CDT
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Officials with the University of Iowa Health Care is offering new options for patients in preparation for both influenza and the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Officials say with the increasing numbers of Johnson County and Iowa residents affected with COVID-19 and influenza, hospital officials are implementing additional programs to diagnose and treat patients.

“We know our community and state depends on us now more than ever to provide excellence in patient care,” says Suresh Gunasekaran, chief executive officer of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, and associate vice president for University of Iowa Health Care. “The health and safety of patients and staff our highest priority.”

You can read the full announcement below.

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New programs for influenza and COVID-19:

UI Health Care has implemented two new programs to improve accessibility of care to those who may be ill:

Video visits:

A Video Visit option is now available for patients with influenza-like symptoms or COVID-19 health concerns. Patients can schedule a video visit through their MyChart account or by calling 319-384-9010. Patients will be asked to download Vidyo, a secure video service used for these visits.

Screening clinics for influenza- and COVID-19 testing:

Once a patient has been seen by a health care provider through a video visit they may be directed to one of our care centers for influenza or COVID-19 testing. These centers can test our patients safely and effectively and allow patients to return home to wait for results, if appropriate.

Visitor restrictions:

As a means of limiting exposure to patients, visitors, and staff, UI Health Care is limiting visitors to two adults (age 18 and older) per patient at all of our locations in most circumstances. Children under the age of 18 may visit only if they are an immediate family member and are considered by the patient’s health care team to be essential for the patient’s well-being. Exceptions may be made in certain situation, including for patients in palliative care and in some critical care units.

All visitors must be healthy; no one will be allowed to visit who exhibits signs or symptoms of an influenza-like illness, which includes a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with cough or sore throat. Visitors with certain other symptoms, such as runny nose, shortness of breath, fatigue, chills, vomiting, or diarrhea should also postpone their visits.

“We are asking the community’s help in limiting the number of people who come to visit on our campus, and ensuring everyone is well,” says Gunasekaran. “We know it is difficult to not see a loved one who may be hospitalized, but it is important to help keep everyone safe.”

Safety precautions for staff:

UI Health Care faculty and staff are well-trained in safety precautions through continuous education and frequent drills. Additional communications, training and drills have been underway since January. Other measures, such as conservation of personal protective equipment like face masks, gloves and sanitizer are also in place.

“We continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health, and our clinical experts,” adds Gunasekaran. “The goal is to keep our staff healthy so we can continue to provide the care needed by the community.”

Reminder to practice good hygiene:

Everyone can play a role in keeping our community safe by practicing good hygiene:

• Use a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing to cover your mouth and nose.

• Wash your hands often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

• Maintain a safe distance. Take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of getting ill."