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Our Coronavirus Task Force has been meeting regularly to review and implement state and national best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

St. James Parish Updated Case Count

Since positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be publicly reported, we will include updates on this page of our website. At this time, there have been 289 confirmed cases and 24 related deaths in St. James Parish.

Reopening Information

St. James Parish Hospital has initiated a controlled reopening of elective services and procedures. We are continuing our enhanced environmental services protocols for disinfection and we have resumed screenings at our entrances. In addition, we are promoting social distancing in our lobbies through added signage, the moving of chairs and by staggering patients. Patients and essential visitors will be required to wear a mask upon entry. Masks will be presented at screening tables as needed.

Urgent Care Reopening on 5.4.20

St. James Urgent Care, located in the medical plaza next to the hospital, will be reopening during normal business hours starting on Monday, May 4th. As recommended by the CDC, patients are asked to wear a cloth mask or bandanna covering their nose and mouth. St. James Urgent will be open on Memorial Day from 9am to 5pm.

Call Ahead If You Can 225.258.2040

Calling ahead allows us to better support social distancing recommendations and stagger patients, but walk-ins are still welcome. You may notice that we’ve also repositioned seating and added signage. We are committed to serving our community and keeping you safe.

Specialty Clinic Updates 4.27.20

Specialty Clinics at the hospital are undergoing a controlled reopening. We have worked with physicians to limit patients based on state guidance. We are also staggering visits. Screenings will be resumed at entrances and all patients will be given a cloth mask. Additionally, we have updated seating arrangements and added signage to facilitate social distancing in lobbies.

Controlled Reopening of Services 4.22.20

Per Guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health, we’ve put together a plan for a controlled reopening of certain elective procedures.

LDH guidance is three-fold and involved assessing the rate of community spread, the availability of PPE and the time-sensitivity and urgency of procedures. A team of hospital and physician leaders worked together to create an objective process for prioritizing procedures based on patient history, urgency and time-sensitivity. This will help us determine what to schedule and when moving forward.

We are also working to update processes and protocols to support social distancing within our facility as more patients return.

Do Not Delay Emergency Medical Care

Early studies of emergency rooms nationwide are showing a scary trend – that people are delaying emergency medical care in fear of COVID-19. Many of these studies are focusing on delayed medical care for heart attacks and strokes. Delaying medical care for patients undergoing these heart events and other emergencies can be fatal. CLICK HERE to learn more.

We want our community to know that our ER is still seeing patients and that we have taken numerous steps to ensure the safety of our patients and staff throughout this pandemic.

1. Early on we redesigned the flow of our ER to create separation between possible COVID patients and those with other emergency needs. Patients are assessed immediately upon entering and then triaged and separated based on symptoms.

2. Patients undergoing COVID symptoms are treated in one area and patients with other illnesses and injuries are routed to a traditional treatment space. The spaces are divided by doorways.

3. We have implemented additional measures to filter air in patient rooms within the ER.

4. Our ER Nurses’ Station and several sections of the ER were “closed off” utilizing visqueen and plexiglass partitions to further prevent cross contamination.

5. We’ve always used disinfectants capable of killing the coronavirus and many other pathogens, but we’ve trained additional staff members to understand proper usage of these products.

6. We’ve made these disinfectants readily available to all team members and have staff members assigned to the ER lobby to continuously disinfect all high-touch areas and furniture.

7. We’ve added environmental services staff members to terminally clean the ER rooms in COVID areas. A “terminal cleaning” is the highest level of cleaning and requires that every surface in the room be disinfected with a hospital-grade disinfectant.

8. We’ve invested in a cutting-edge sanitation fogger system – SteraMist – supported by the World Health Organization. SteraMist is a portable surface disinfection system that uses ionized hydrogen peroxide.

Donations

Our hospital and team truly stand stronger thanks to the overwhelming support of our community and fellow businesses. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the well wishes, meals, supplies and monetary support to strengthen our hospital’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.  For more information or assistance coordinating a  donation, CLICK HERE.

Cloth Face Masks

We are asking that patients coming into the hospital or clinics wear a cloth face mask or bandanna covering the nose and mouth. CLICK HERE to view additional tips and guidance from the CDC on making homemade masks.

LIVE Virtual Parish Press Conference 4.7.20

St. James Parish President Pete Dufresne, St. James Parish Hospital CEO Mary Ellen Pratt, Infection Control Coordinator Terrie Hymel, RN and Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. lead a virtual press conference via Facebook LIVE at 12:30pm on Tuesday, April 7th to update the community on the latest COVID-19 information in the parish.

Replay the video by visiting the Facebook Pages of St. James Parish Government and/or St. James Parish Hospital.

WARNING – CDC Health Advisory 3.29.20: Nonprescription Chloroquine Phosphate

Summary
Chloroquine phosphate, when used without a prescription and supervision of a healthcare provider, can cause serious health consequences, including death. Clinicians and public health officials should discourage the public from misusing non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate (a chemical used in home aquariums). Clinicians should advise patients and the public that chloroquine, and the related compound hydroxychloroquine, should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare provider as prescribed medications.

Background
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has become aware of two individuals in another state who ingested non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate, a chemical for aquarium use that is commercially available for purchase at stores and through internet websites. One of the individuals died shortly after arrival to the hospital. The second individual was critically ill with severe gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac conduction abnormalities. Upon recovery, the surviving individual reported to the media that they ingested the product to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), after seeing information on the medical use of chloroquine on television. The product in their possession was in powder form inside a 2.2-lb. container and labeled “for Ornamental Fish Use Only.”CDC is also aware of unconfirmed media reports that these commercially available aquarium-use chemicals may be out of stock due to potential increased demand by the public.

At this time, there are no routinely available pharmaceutical products that are FDA-approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat specific medical conditions, such as malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, these medications are being studied and evaluated as treatment for COVID-19; however, their efficacy to either prevent or treat this infection are unknown. In overdose situations or when used inappropriately, these medications can lead to severe toxicity, including cardiac rhythm disturbances such as prolonged QT, severe hypokalemia, cardiovascular collapse, seizures, coma, and death. Inappropriate uses include taking commercially available non-pharmaceutical preparations, taking chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate without a prescription, and taking additional doses not recommended by a healthcare provider. Chloroquine phosphate has a narrow therapeutic index—it can be toxic at levels not much higher than those used for treatment—which raises the risk of inadvertent overdose.

Recommendations for the Public
Do not ingest aquarium use products or any other chemicals that contain chloroquine phosphate. These chemicals are not intended for human consumption and can lead to serious health consequences, including death.
Medications like chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate should be taken only when prescribed by and under the supervision of your healthcare provider and always according to the instructions provided.
Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any unexpected symptoms after taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine by contacting your healthcare provider or your poison center (1.800.222.1222).

PRESS CONFERENCE – 3.23.20

St. James Parish President Pete Dufresne, St. James Parish Hospital CEO Mary Ellen Pratt, Superintendent of St. James Parish Schools Dr. Ed Cancienne and Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. lead a press conference to update the community on the latest COVID-19 information in the parish. CLICK HERE to view.

JOINT STATEMENT – Case Count 3.23.20 

As of March 23, 2020 at noon, the Louisiana Department of Health has confirmed 8 positive COVID-19 cases and 1 COVID-19 related death in St. James Parish.

COVID-19 patients are being treated in multiple parishes. Patients being treated at St. James Parish Hospital are in isolation. Those discharged home have been educated how to effectively quarantine. More information about best practices when you are in a household that has been affected by COVID-19 can be found on the hospital’s website sjph.org/coronavirus-information.

“Recent cases have indicated that St. James Parish now has an active community spread,” said Mary Ellen Pratt, St. James Parish Hospital CEO.

“The CDC considers a virus community spread if people have been affected in a certain area and some are unsure how or where they contracted the disease.”

As reported by the CDC, COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person—typically 6 feet or closer to another person—coughs or sneezes.

“The spread of COVID-19 in our parish is not unexpected. We have been preparing for this moment and encouraging our residents to practice social distancing,” said Pete Dufresne, St. James Parish President.

“Our message is the same, but the urgency of that message is not. We now know that this highly infectious disease is spreading here. Please heed this warning and that of our Governor to stay home with your immediate family only.”

“Make no mistake, our actions today will impact our future.”

For the latest local communications related to COVID-19 visit this web page or the hospital and parish Facebook pages.

The State of Testing – CEO Column by Mary Ellen Pratt 3.21.20

The state and nation are continuously expanding testing resources and protocols in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It is extremely important for the public to understand the testing process, how healthcare providers are determining who should be tested at this time and what each of us can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Testing—Then and Now
Testing for COVID-19 was initially conducted by the state and CDC. After a potential case was deemed necessary for testing by strict state guidelines, the healthcare provider would swab the patient and samples would be couriered to the state lab for testing. Upon a positive test—coined “presumptive positive” the CDC would then run its own quality control test to confirm the case. The process was updated so that state results are now final. Testing approved and conducted by the state takes on average at least two days to produce results.

Most recently, commercial testing—which can be ordered by physicians on a case-by-case ba-sis—became available. Providers follow the same process for swabbing patients and samples are couried to approved commercial labs. Patients that meet criteria for commercial testing take on average at least four days to get results.
Testing Criteria

Both state and commercial tests are limited and only recommended for patients meeting certain criteria. Since most patients contracting the Coronavirus experience only mild symptoms and can be effectively treated from home—reducing the risk of unnecessary exposure to others—tests are conserved for the most vulnerable in our population. Testing criteria is strict and typically ap-proved for patients at high risk of more serious symptoms and needing possible hospitalization.

The Priority for Testing
Testing is priority for the most vulnerable in our population. Most deaths have been in patients 60 or older and many of these patients have had underlying conditions. Examples of patients with the highest risk of complications due to COVID-19 include:

  • People over 60 (risk increases with age)
  • People living in nursing homes
  • People with other health conditions that impair lung or heart function or those with weak-ened immune systems

Call Ahead
If you are not in a high risk category and experiencing mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath we encourage you to call your physician’s office. Your doctor will conduct a phone visit to learn more about your symptoms, review your personal medical history and utilize CDC and state recommendations to determine if a test is recommended. For many patients—especially those whose treatments would not change due to test results, physicians can make recommendations and order medications as needed over the phone.

What can you do?
With or without a test, we have the power to slow the spread of COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Clean your hands often, avoid close contact and stay home if you are sick. According to education from the White House entitled “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” you are encouraged to:

  • Stay home if you feel sick and contact your medical provider
  • If your children are sick keep them home and contact your medical provider
  • If someone in your household tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home and contact your medical provider
  • If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people
  • If you have a serious underlying condition that can put you at increased risk, stay home and away from other people
  • Avoid social gatherings (mandated at 50 or less, recommended by the president at 10 or less)
  • Avoid discretionary travel
  • Do not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance
  • For the latest information on COVID-19 from St. James Parish Hospital, visit this web page often.

COVID-19 Video Conference 3.19.20

St. James Parish President Pete Dufresne, St. James Parish Hospital CEO Mary Ellen Pratt, Director of Surgical Services and Infection Control Coordinator Terrie Hymel, RN, and Director of Medical Records and Privacy Officer Susan Duhon came together to address community concerns based on the recent report of a positive COVID-19 case in St. James Parish. CLICK HERE to view and/or download the video.

JOINT STATEMENT – Positive Case 3.18.20 

The Louisiana Department of Health has confirmed the first positive case of COVID-19 in
St. James Parish. The patient, falling into the 60+ age bracket, also had underlying health
conditions and passed away at St. James Parish Hospital.

The patient, diagnosed through a state-run test, was isolated and treated following both CDC recommendations and hospital-wide infection control protocols.

“Caring for patients with infectious diseases is something we do on a daily basis. We are
prepared and equipped,” said Mary Ellen Pratt, St. James Parish Hospital CEO.

“Additionally, we enacted our Emergency Management Team which is on call 24/7 to monitor new recommendations, update policies and assist staff as needed to ensure our patients are well cared for, our staff is kept safe and our community is protected.”

The hospital and the St. James Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness have been in constant contact to proactively monitor the situation and develop plans should a case be identified in the parish.

“We feel confident that the decisions made to-date have been in the best interest of our
community. Moving forward, we will make decisions based on the knowledge that a case has been identified locally,” said Pete Dufresne, St. James Parish President.

“We do still want to remind our community that social distancing and staying home are best practices to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.”

Call Ahead Notice to Patients

Per CDC guidelines, we are asking that any patients experiencing certain mild flu-like and respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath call your physician’s office or Urgent Care (225.258.2040) before coming in. We have implemented new policies and procedures to limit exposure.

Family Practice Clinics

It is our typical policy for patients of our family practice clinics to call ahead to schedule appointments. Additionally, we have implemented infection control procedures to intentionally stagger necessary visits as an added measure of protection.

Urgent Care Temporarily Closed 3.30.20

In order to best reallocate resources in response to COVID-19, St. James Urgent Care is temporarily being closed. Primary Care Clinics are open during normal business hours and patients are still being ask to call ahead.

Public Dining Room Closure

We are continuing to monitor the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow best practices while doing our best to practice social distancing whenever possible as recommended by state and national health agencies.

With this, we are temporarily closing the hospital dining room to the public. In addition, our dietary team will be implementing additional infection control protocols for the safety of patients and staff.

Hospital Front Entrance Closed on Weekends

The front hospital lobby entrance will be temporarily closed on weekends. Please enter through the ER lobby.

Interim Visitation Policy Effective 3.20.20

Since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) onset in the United States, we have been preparing our facility to maintain the safety of our team, patients and community.

Due to the confirmed presumptive cases in Louisiana, we have enacted an emergency task force to plan updates to hospital operations based on the latest guidelines by the CDC and Office of Public Health.

We have implemented a new visitation policy, effective immediately, which limits visitors, restricts the number of entry points into our facility and implements screenings for all visitors and patients.

Effective March 20, 2020 only essential visitors, as outlined below, will be allowed at the hospital, ER and all clinics.

  • Parent/guardian of a minor patient (1 per patient)
  • Caregiver of a patient who cannot consent for them self (1 per patient)
  • Caregiver for someone needing end of life care (1 per patient)

Visitors meeting the criteria above must pass a screening before entry. All permitted visitors and patients must wear a mask at all times. Essential visitors must also be age 18 or over.

Louisiana Department of Health Resources

Have questions or concerns and finding it hard to keep up with ever changing information?

Louisiana citizens can dial 211 24/7 to reach a live specialist to discuss available help and COVID-19 information. Citizens can also text the keyword “LACOVID” to 898-211 to have instant access to the most current information available in our state. CLICK HERE for more information.

Positive COVID-19 Tests Statewide

What is the number of tests being given by healthcare providers for COVID-19 around the state of Louisiana? What percentage have been positive? CLICK HERE for the most up-to-date information about cases in Louisiana.

Home Care Guidance for Patients Testing Positive or being Tested for COVID-19

The state department of health has provided information to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in homes and
residential communities for patients who tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19, but deemed well enough for home treatment. CLICK HERE to review home care guidance.

CDC Resources & Education

What is COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practiceexternal icon for naming of new human infectious diseases.

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

CLICK HERE to visit the official COVID-19 CDC website.

Steps to Prevent Illness

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) 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. CLICK HERE for more info.

  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact

Preparing Your Home 

Practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and remind everyone in your home to do the same. The actions below are especially important for older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions. CLICK HERE for more information.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care (call ahead with symptoms).
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).

CDC Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings
(especially in areas of significant community-based transmission)

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CLICK HERE to view additional tips and guidance.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

This recommendation complements and does not replace the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, 30 Days to Slow the Spread, which remains the cornerstone of our national effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. CDC will make additional recommendations as the evidence regarding appropriate public health measures continues to develop.


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