April 8, 2020

To the North Caddo Community:

During the recent outbreak, there have been several questions posed to us through social media. I will attempt to answer some of these below. Of course, there is some sensitive information that we cannot disclose, but I will try to answer the questions as thoroughly as possible.

  1. How many COVID-19 patients have we had at NCMC?

This is one of those questions that is very sensitive, but I can give you some totals. NCMC has had 4 confirmed positive inpatients since March 1st. We have also had, between our 3 clinics and our emergency room, 13 confirmed positives. We have tested over 150 different patients that were suspected due to exposure or flu-like symptoms.

  1. Are any of NCMC’s employees positive for COVID-19?

Healthcare workers are certainly the most exposed employee group to all sorts of viruses. Our exposure to COVID-19 is no different. Just like with the flu this year, we have had a few of our employees contract COVID-19. To date, no positive employee has returned to work at NCMC that has tested positive for the virus. We do, however, look forward to all their returns as all are at home and doing very well. The CDC has specific guidelines on when a healthcare professional should return to work after having the COVID-19 virus.

  1. What are the CDC requirements for a health care professional returning to work after having the virus?

The CDC guidelines are as follows for a healthcare professional that has tested positive to return to work:

    • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
    • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
    • Once an employee has returned and for a period of 14 days after onset of symptoms, the employee will be restricted from contact with immunocompromised patients.
  1. Can I be tested for COVID-19?

We are still only testing patients that present with respiratory symptoms or a fever that is above 100.4. The testing for the virus is still very limited with a finite amount of test media so we are only able to test patients that we suspect may be positive. New testing is being developed as I type this and hopefully soon there will be wide-spread testing available.

  1. Can I come to see my doctor if I am sick?

Several weeks ago, the governor of Louisiana issued several executive orders regarding isolation. One of those cancelled all elective procedures done at the hospital. This was not intended to discourage anyone who is sick or feeling bad from seeing their physician. We have put in place several things to ensure that we minimize the risk of anyone in our hospital or clinics to the COVID-19 virus. If you feel you need to see a doctor, we are here and will gladly serve you at any of our 3 clinics.

We have also instituted telehealth for those who think they may not need a face to face visit with their physician or provider.

The phone number to use is: Vivian – 318-375-3239; Plain Dealing – 318-326-7272; Benton – 318-965-5017: or visit ncmcla.com/family practice.

  1. Just how sick are patients that are getting infected with COVID-19?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. According to most sources, up to 80 percent of COVID positive patients are asymptomatic. The infections do seem to be far more severe in people with underlying major illnesses. As of today, there have been 374,329 cases in the United States. Of those, 12,064 have died. In comparison, during this flu season alone, the CDC estimates that there have been between 39 and 55 million cases of the flu in this country alone. Of these, approximately 42,000 have died.

  1. Is NCMC still in need of PPE, in particular masks?

The shortages of PPE have been widely spread in the media and the reports are accurate. We have gotten an influx of N95 masks in the past week, but we are still not at a safe level for a long-term fight with COVID 19. We have gotten several donations of homemade masks and they have been greatly appreciated and we are still accepting these at this time. Contact Mary Coil at mary.coil@ncmcla.com if you would like to help.

Thank you for your continued support of our NCMC family and communities.

Sincerely,

David Jones, C.E.O.