Local clinic addresses coronavirus concerns

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Local clinic addresses coronavirus concerns

By Melissa Perner
The Ozona Stockman

     The Family Health Center of Ozona addressed the ongoing COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic.
    Clinic Director Susan Bilano posted her Facebook page that the clinic is working hard to prevent the spread of germs within the clinic, to protect our patients and our staff. In addition to frequent cleaning of the rooms and lobby by our housekeeping staff.
    Also, a medical person will be at the front doors of the building to check each person’s temperature before the patient enters the waiting area.
    “If the patient, or the person with a patient, has a fever, they will be given a mask to wear and escorted to a room outside of the lobby to wait until it is their turn to see the physician or nurse practitioner,” Bilano stated.
    If a person transports a patient to the clinic, it is best they wait outside in their vehicle. This does not apply to parents bringing small children, or caregivers bringing elderly patients, Bilano stated.
    Shannon Medical Center is also offering Concho Valley residents, including Crockett County, free online coronavirus screenings through its telehealth program, Shannon On Demand. The service is for people who are worried they may have been exposed to the virus, and are suffering from mild to moderate flu-like symptoms.
    Shannon On Demand provides a virtual visit with a healthcare provider through a mobile device or computer. Patients are able to talk face-to-face with the provider through a video chat for evaluation of their symptoms.
    The service is available online 24/7 at www.shannonondemand.com or download the free Shannon On Demand app from the Apple or Google Play app stores. Patients then must create an account by following the prompts to set up their screening. Upon reaching the payment screen, enter the code “SHANNONCOVID19,” and the screening will be free.
    As of Tuesday, March 17, no one in Crockett County has tested positive for COVID-19, coronavirus.
    Bilano said the clinic does have a limited number of items needed to perform a coronavirus test. All testing is done at the discretion of the physician or nurse practitioner.
    Once a test is performed, it is then sent to Shannon Medical Center lab via courier. From there the test is sent to an outside lab, Bilano said.
    Currently, it is taking four-seven days to get the test results back, Bilano said.
    “This is not only with tests that are sent out through Shannon, but to my understanding the time to get the results back is pretty much nationwide,” Bilano said.
    On Tuesday, March 17, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 76 cases in Texas with one death reported in Matagorda County. One man in his 90s died March 15 in what is believed to be the first death in Texas linked to the virus.
    Closest positive cases to Ozona, right now, are three reported in Bexar County.
The only positive cases, right now, west of Interstate-35 are three reported in El Paso.
The largest numbers of cases have mostly been centered in the Houston area, in North Texas and at a federal quarantine site in San Antonio. But all five of the state’s most populous urban areas have cases.
Governor Greg Abbott has declared a statewide public health disaster.
Dr. Marcus Sims told the Crockett County Comissioners’ Court that the less people are out an about, the better.
Sims said the coronavirus is a lot more contagious than the flu and more transmissible.
“If a person is tested, and then not confined, they could probably give it to a whole lot of people,” Sims said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, coronavirus can spread easily when people come in close contact with one another, within six feet, or when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The best prevention of the virus is to:
•    Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.
•    If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
•    Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
•    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
•    Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.
•    Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
The CDC also recommends that you start practicing social distancing. Social distancing involves staying away from other people to avoid catching or spreading illness. It’s a fancy term for avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact. This could mean avoiding concerts or weddings, skipping the handshake, and/or staying at least six feet away from others.
“It’s a hard question to compare its severity with the flue. A lot of people have probably had it and just got over it,” Sims said.
The population that seems to be hit the hardest by the virus is people ages 60 and over and those with any autoimmune deficiency.
The CDC has recommended canceling community-wide mass gatherings, especially those with 50 or more people, and to cancel gatherings of more than 10 people for organizations that serve higher-risk populations.
Sims said people should expect up to three months of being cautious. He said, hopefully, in two months things could fully open back up.
“The number of cases will be much higher one week from now and then two weeks from now because they have increased the testing capacity,” Sims said. “I think we are looking at it is responding like the flu, meaning that as the weather gets warmer, and people aren’t jammed into buildings, it will go down. But we don’t really know. By the end of April, maybe May, hopefully, this thing is in the rearview mirror.”
For more information, call the Family Health Center of Ozona at (325) 392-3788 or visit cdc.gov.



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