Updated Full Version: Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 12:00 PM
With the coronavirus disrupting communities and financial markets around the world, local organizations are assessing the situation and we at Sonoma Valley Hospital want to communicate our plans and recommendations in the event that the virus arrives in our community. Many of us have been working closely with our public health counterparts across the city and state, as well as with the CDC, since the coronavirus outbreak began in December 2019.
Numerous agencies and nonprofits in our community, including SVH, have worked together over the past few years to help our community respond to the wildfire and power outage crises, and this potential emergency will benefit from these established relationships. We anticipate working together to bring the most supportive actions possible to our community.
There is no indication that this disease is spreading in our community at this time. However, Sonoma Valley Hospital has been preparing for the likelihood that COVID-19 will enter our community. We have protocols in place to enable us to care for COVID-19 patients, while protecting the health of our staff, other patients and visitors.
The symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days following an exposure and include fever, cough, and sore throat. In more severe cases, this may include shortness of breath and pneumonia. It is important to remember that the severity of symptoms ranges broadly from asymptomatic carriers to severe infection which has resulted in death, but mainly in individuals with other underlying health conditions. Overall, it is thought that about 80% of cases are mild and do not require hospitalization.
The virus is primarily spread via respiratory droplets from person to person, meaning through secretions from coughing or sneezing within six feet of another individual. In addition, it may live on some surfaces for a yet to be determined period of time. Many people want to know what they can do to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC including:
- Frequent hand washing (use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available).
- Avoid touching your face and eyes.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are ill, please stay home.
At this time, face masks are not recommended for the general public as a way to prevent transmission of the disease. As a reminder, the flu remains a threat to our community at this time, and it is not too late to get your annual flu shot.
As self-quarantine at home may become necessary, everyone in our community is urged to have a plan for their household. Keeping adequate supplies of food, water, and other basics on hand should be standard practice for all of us here in earthquake and fire country, and this is one more reminder. We urge everyone to use this global health concern as an opportunity to review your preparedness for a long-term emergency at home.
If the virus does arrive in our community, there’s a possibility that schools, businesses, and other institutions may be impacted. We urge everyone to consider their capabilities in light of this possibility by asking questions such as what additional resources would our household or business need, and are we prepared if we had to work from home or were unable to work for a period of time?
We have heard from national public health officials and other local authorities about concern for seniors and very elderly people who are particularly vulnerable because of underlying conditions, and that family and caregivers should take heed to watch out for seniors regarding this contagion as well as for the regular flu.
We recognize that news of COVID-19 is concerning for many. Anxiety can create fear. We must always treat each other with kindness and respect, including refraining from expressions that target, stigmatize, or discriminate against certain populations.
Sonoma Valley Hospital is committed to providing compassionate and safe care for patients with COVID-19, to providing support and training to keep our healthcare workers and other employees safe while caring for these patients, and to communicating regularly with our community regarding this changing situation.
This is a rapidly evolving situation worldwide. We encourage you to stay informed about the changing guidelines regarding travel advisories, as well as simple ways to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. More information and resources are currently available and are being updated regularly at Sonoma Valley Hospital’s website: www.sonomavalleyhospital.org.
Kelly Mather, CEO, Sonoma Valley Hospital
Sabrina Kidd, M.D., CMO, Sonoma Valley Hospital