REGION — Representatives of Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) held a press conference Friday afternoon following Governor Tom Wolf's announcement that a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 was discovered in a Wayne County resident.
Doctor James Cruse Medical Director of Wayne Memorial Community Health Center and Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers Executive Director Fred Jackson announced that a male patient who visited the Carbondale Family Health Center (CFHC) on Wednesday tested positive for novel coronavirus.
“The preliminary tests were positive,” said Cruse, adding that the patient's symptoms were mild.
He added that care providers “sent out secondary confirmation tests to the CDC. They should be back tomorrow, we've heard.”
The patient had returned from a trip to a high-risk country where he is believed to have contracted the virus, said Cruse.
Citing the health center's protocol questionnaire, Jackson added the patient's return occurred sometime within the last three weeks.
The patient in question has been placed under mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, as have two members of the community health center staff who were in contact with him during his visit.
Cruse noted there was one other patient in the vicinity at the time who was later contacted and informed about the situation.
“The risk is very low from this,” said Cruse, explaining the virus is spread through respiratory means similar to the flu.
“In general, the average person does not have any significant risk,” he said, later adding “Unless you're within six feet of the patient and they're actively coughing, it's a very low risk situation.”
Moreover, the Carbondale Family Health Center is disinfected every night, further limiting risk to the local community and other patients of CFHC states a release.
As of March 6, there has not been evidence of community spread and the aforementioned patient's case remains an isolated incident.
Cruse advised residents follow hygienic precautions such as regular hand-washing, liberal use of anti-bacterial hand gel and covering one's mouth when coughing.
Earlier this week, Wayne Memorial Hospital (WMH) advised the public can stay healthy by:
• Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, do not use your hands!
• Disinfect/wipe down hi-touch surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches and cell phones. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Contain- if you are sick, stay home. Call your healthcare provider. Use your phone to stay in touch.
• Avoid close contact (within six feet) with people who are sick.
•Wash hands frequently with soap and water; if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The Wayne Memorial Health Centers have prepared for COVID-19 in accordance with Department of Health recommendations for some time, said Cruse.
During the incident, “The provider recognized very early that this was a risk patient and contacted the Department of Health that very day,” he said. “We have protocols that we immediately put into place. We've been following the Department of Health's recommendation as far as testing and screening of patients.”
No instances of COVID-19 have yet been identified in WMH but there are likewise protocols in place should one occur, stated CEO David Hoff in a press release.
“We are fully aware of the symptoms and the questions to ask, such as those about travel or contact with someone else who has traveled recently, so that the proper triage is completed,” said Hoff. “If the patient needs to be hospitalized, we are prepared and our staff is trained. Our private rooms allow for maximum control of the patient environment.”
Those experiencing mild symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath should visit their general practitioner for advice.
The press conference, held by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, can be viewed below:
--Information from a release was used in this story.