May 11

HCM Visitation Update:
Beginning, Monday, May 11, one visitor is allowed per patient stay
  • Each patient will be allowed one visitor per stay
  • COVID positive or COVID rule-out patients will not be allowed a visitor
  • Visitors will be provided a ‘visitor badge’ prior to entering  the facility
  • Visitors must be temperature screened prior to entering facility
  • Entry will not be permitted for visitors with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Visitors should bring a mask and must wear that mask At ALL TIMES
  • Visitors may not leave the patient room unnecessarily

May 4

Hill Country Memorial is here for our entire hill country community.

As Texas opens back up and we welcome visitors to our communities, it is important to remain vigilant in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe.

Watch the video below to learn Dr. Partin’s four rules for staying safe.


May 2

Testing for COVID-19

Please review updates and frequently asked questions regarding testing for COVID-19.

Key Points:

  • Hill Country Memorial (HCM) is actively working with county officials and state officials to ensure testing is available for those who need testing.
  • Drive through testing is available on Monday – Friday 10am to 12pm with a doctor’s order.
  • To protect those being tested and HCM Team Members, personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn while administering the test.
  • Even though Texas has opened, it is important for all community members to practice the following steps to stay healthy:
    • Practice proper handwashing
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Properly wear your mask
    • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough
    • Stay home if you are sick
    • Practice safe social distancing
  • For reliable and accurate information visit the following websites:
  • For additional testing locations in Texas, please visit:

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Learn more >> https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

What is the process for being tested?

If you feel ill and have symptoms for COVID19, please contact your primary care provider or call one of HCM’s Immediate Care Clinics during business hours. However, if you feel it is an emergency, please call 9-1-1 or visit HCM’s Emergency Department.

In order to be tested you must obtain a doctor’s order. 

Who should get tested?

Please be mindful and practice social distancing to help prevent the spread.

Several laboratories are overwhelmed with the volume of COVID-19 testing and some are not taking any more samples. This increased number of testing has caused a significant delay in the resulting of the test.

To take the Coronavirus self-checker, visit >> https://www.cdc.gov/…/2019-nc…/symptoms-testing/testing.html

For CDC Resources >> https://www.cdc.gov/…/2019-nc…/symptoms-testing/testing.html

How long does it take to get test results back?

In Texas, multiple laborites provide testing; the time to receive the results directly depends on the testing laboratory. This timeframe could range from one (1) to seven (7) days. HCM is actively working with laboratories to secure tests that provide results in a reduced timeframe.

Developments are emerging daily; please contact 830.900.6100 for more information.



April 28

Watch for symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Click the button below to view the self-checker>>
CDC Self-Checker

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

When to Seek Medical Attention
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency:
Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Source CDC.gov


April 22

HCM introduces thermal scanning at entrances

Adding a layer of safety for patients, staff, and community members, Hill Country Memorial (HCM) is one of the first hospitals in Texas to install temperature scanners featuring artificial intelligence technology.

The devices– cai-AMS-T2 autonomous monitoring platforms–are among the first developed utilizing this technology, according to Shane Dickinson, HCM Director of Information Technology.

“This new technology is being implemented rapidly across the country as a result of the pandemic,” Dickinson said. “This enables HCM to deliver on our mission statement to provide remarkable healthcare to the community while protecting our patients and team.”

The equipment has been installed at three hospital entrances with built-in camera and thermal sensors mounted on a stand inside each entrance. The individual walks up to the monitor which detects any presence within an 18 to 20-inch range. Guides show where to stand for optimal scanning. Within one second it will scan the body temperature. There is no contact required, eliminating any chance of virus transmission.

Those whose temperatures are within normal range will be directed to proceed. If the temperature is high, a clinician will direct the individual to an isolated area for further assessment.

During the implementation phase, a team member will be stationed nearby for assistance and additional monitoring. The device can be monitored remotely in an unmanned situation should that be necessary.

The thermal scanner is a HIPAA-certified solution, according to Dickinson.

“The device does not take your photo or collect any personal information other than the temperature and a name for reference. It is not shared with anyone, and all data is secured and encrypted.”

HCM is serving as a beta site for the Texas Hospital Association (THA), with the equipment being tested and calibrated here before being introduced to other hospitals in Texas.

THA first partnered with care.ai to deploy AI powered autonomous patient monitoring technology. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this leading-edge AI technology was repurposed to serve as AI powered thermal temperature readers.

“THA’s center for technology identifies technologies that improve clinical outcomes, patient safety and hospital operations,” said Fernando Martinez, PhD, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at THA.

Given the positive member feedback from the initial deployment, THA will be extending availability to all THA members by the end of April.

“We are fortunate to have a great partnership with the THA,” Dickinson said. “Hill Country Memorial is always looking to provide the best care to the community. When we find appropriate technology that will enhance patient care and also makes sense that is what we are going to do. It’s not just adding technology for technology’s sake.”


April 13

HCM taking extra measures to care for you. 

Dr. James Partin, Chief Medical Officer, shared updates related to COVID-19, ways to prevent the spread and the extra measures HCM is taking to keep you safe.

Click the link below to watch the Facebook Live>>

 

COVID Unit

While there are currently no patients in the hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19, HCM took proactive measures to stand up its COVID unit. On Thursday, April 2, the unit was readied to receive patients should the need arise. Making these facility changes now ensures HCM is prepared to swiftly respond when the COVID-19 patients need to be hospitalized.

The unit has its own separate ventilation system and is outfitted with necessary supplies and equipment to care for vulnerable patients.

Access Physicians

Through a partnership with Access Physicians, HCM receives additional support, through virtual televisits, from physicians who have and are currently caring for COVID-19 patients in other areas. The providers with Access Physicians are board certified pulmonary intensivists and will provide dedicated support to the HCM COVID unit.

Extra Precautions

HCM has taken extra precautions to care for the community. Team members, providers, and patients entering any HCM facility are screened and their temperatures is taken upon every entry.

Additionally, all HCM team members and providers will wear facemasks in all public areas at HCM facilities. This extra effort will help protect HCM team members and community members alike. We encourage you to wear protective masks when in public areas of our community.

April 7, 2020

How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings

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.

CDC also advises 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.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

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.

Click the link below for a printable version with Instructions:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/DIY-cloth-face-covering-instructions.pdf


April 6, 2020

HCM describes signs of respiratory distress

In an effort to ensure the public has accurate information, Katelyn Vinklarek, Administrative Director of Post Acute Services for Hill Country Memorial Home Care, shares information from Johns Hopkins University on recognizing the signs of respiratory distress that may indicate the presence of COVID-19.

“Many patients have been asking us what are the signs of COVID-19, and especially what are the differences between the virus and seasonal allergies, colds, or just not feeling well,” Vinklarek said. “We want you to be aware of these as indications that you might need more help. If you do show any of these signs, or if you see someone with these symptoms, call 911 immediately.”

Signs of Respiratory Distress

Below is a list of some of the signs that may indicate that a person is working harder to breathe and may not be getting enough oxygen. It is important to learn the signs of respiratory distress to know how to respond. Always see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Breathing rate. An increase in the number of breaths per minute may mean that a person is having trouble breathing or not getting enough oxygen.

Color changes. A bluish color seen around the mouth, on the inside of the lips, or on the fingernails may happen when a person is not getting as much oxygen as needed. The color of the skin may also appear pale or gray.

Grunting. A grunting sound can be heard each time the person exhales. This grunting is the body’s way of trying to keep air in the lungs so they will stay open.

Nose flaring. The openings of the nose spreading open while breathing may mean that a person is having to work harder to breathe.

Retractions. The chest appears to sink in just below the neck or under the breastbone with each breath or both. This is one way of trying to bring more air into the lungs, and can also be seen under the rib cage or even in the muscles between the ribs.

Sweating. There may be increased sweat on the head, but the skin does not feel warm to the touch. More often, the skin may feel cool or clammy. This may happen when the breathing rate is very fast.

Wheezing. A tight, whistling or musical sound heard with each breath can mean that the air passages may be smaller (tighter), making it harder to breathe.

Body position. A person may spontaneously lean forward while sitting to help take deeper breaths. This is a warning sign that he or she is about to collapse.

SOURCE: The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System hopkinsmedicine.org

Watch the Facebook Live >>


April 2, 2020

COVID19 has impacted families across Texas in so many ways. Please review the resource below to learn more about food, financial and informational resources on the local and state level.

COVID-19 State and Local Resources

March 31, 2020

Cleaning And Disinfecting Your Home

Everyday Steps and Extra Steps When Someone Is Sick

Clean

Clean surfaces using soap and water. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

High touch surfaces include:
Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

 

Disinfect
  • Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.
  • Recommend use on EPA-registered household disinfectant.
    Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
    Many products recommend:

    • Keeping surface wet for a period of time (see product label)
    • Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
  • Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for the surface. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
    Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
    Leave solution on the surface for at least 1 minute
    To make a bleach solution
    , mix:

    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
      OR
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.

Detailed Disinfection Guidance >>  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html

Clean hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
    • Always wash immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a sick person.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available and hands are not visibly dirty, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
  • Additional key times to clean hands include:
    • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After using the restroom
    • Before eating or preparing food
    • After contact with animals or pets
    • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Soft surfaces
For soft surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes
  • Clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.
  • Launder/wash items (if possible) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.

OR

Disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant. These disinfectants meet EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19.

Electronics
For electronics, such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls.
  • Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics
  • Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting
  • If no guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.
Laundry
For clothing, towels, linens and other items
  • Wear disposable gloves.
  • Wash hands with soap and water as soon as you remove the gloves.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
  • Dirty laundry from a sick person can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.

Image:

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html


March 30, 2020

The World Health Organization recommends doing “the five” to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Do the Five:
1. HANDS: Wash them often
2. ELBOW: Cough into it
3. FACE: Don’t touch it
4. SPACE: Practice social distancing
5. HOME: Stay home if you can

Practice proper hand washing:  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Social distancing is the practice of reducing close contact between people to slow the spread of infections or diseases.

Best Practice Tips:

  • Avoid shaking hands or hugging
  • Avoid high traffic areas or any situation that tends to attract people
  • Avoid sharing work items such as pens, computers and high touch items

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick for at least 14 days.
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease for at least 14 days.

Best Practice Tips:

  • Avoid sharing household items such as towels, drinks or dinnerware
  • Stay home – limit contact with visitors and keep at least six feet away from of others

Resources:

To learn more about COVID-19 in Texas visit>> https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/

To take the Coronavirus self-checker, visit >> https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/index.html 

Dr. Partin Facebook Live FAQ

Click here to review responses from Dr. Partin 


March 24, 2020

Surgical Face Mask Instructions

Hill Country Memorial would like to express gratitude and thanks to all who have expressed an interest in sewing surgical mask.  To view  printable pattern and an instructional video for the mask selected by HCM, please view the links below.

Printable Instructions 

Instructional Video 

Features of the selected mask:

→ Easy to sew, 20 minute video produced by Sew It Online.

→The pattern has wire at the top to secure the mask at the bridge of the nose

→ The mask will have an opening on the side to add additional protection as needed

→ Fabric strings rather than elastic are preferred by staff for ease of fitting.

→ Please use tightly woven cotton such as quilting  fabric

For your safety, a drive-through drop box is located  outside of  the Admission’s Entrance at the HCM Hospital.


March 21, 2020

When you are involved in a public health crisis or the threat of a potential public health incident, these events can affect your personal health and well-being. Everyone — adults, teens, and even children, experiences stress and each one uniquely. Stress is a mental, physical, and emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress can result from any change, whether positive (e.g. preparing for a wedding) or negative (e.g. dealing with a natural disaster).

Learning healthy ways to cope and getting the right care and support can help reduce stressful feelings and symptoms. During stressful times, it is imperative to monitor your physical and mental health. Learn to recognize the signs of stress and know when to implement healthy behaviors.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress:

Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress. Here are some healthy ways you can deal with stress:

  • Take Care of Yourself
    • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water
    • Relax your body often by doing what works for you — take deep breaths, stretch, exercise, go for a walk,  meditate, engage in pleasurable hobbies, or something as simple as washing your face and hands
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Give yourself a break if you start to feel stressed out
  • Talk to others. Share your problems about your feelings with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor
  • Take a break
    • If news events are causing your stress, take a break from listening or watching the news
    • Use time off to relax — eat a good meal, read, listen to music, take a bath or talk to family
  • Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor

Pay Attention to Your Body, Feelings and Spirit:

  • Recognize and heed early warning signs of stress: increased or decreased energy, irritability, outbursts, difficulty relaxing or sleeping, placing blame others, difficulty communicating, headaches, loss of appetite (or overeating) sweating and chills, depression, guilt, anger, apathy, sadness, difficulty remembering things, confusion, excessive worrying, difficulty making decisions
  • Recognize how your own experiences affect your way of handling an event. Focus on the ways you handled previous stressful events well
  • Connect with your community support
  • Take time to pray and connect to your community of faith

How to Help Children and Adolescents

  • Provide a safe environment
  • Remain calm — children and adolescents will mimic your behavior
  • Keep normal routines
  • Share age-appropriate information
  • Prevent or limit media exposure
  • Practice active listening
  • Teach coping skills:
    • Slow breathing
    • Counting
    • Calming music
    • Soft pillows, blankets or stuffed animals

HCM is committed to providing physical, medical, and informational support to our community during this time. Follow the HCM Wellness Center on Facebook to view Live and recorded exercise classes. We also make provisions for your spiritual and emotional health and can connect you to a chaplain or social worker by phone, as you need. To reach us, please call the HCM Information Line at 830.990.6100, and ask for a chaplain or social worker. You can also call the hospital chaplain’s office at 830.990.6125 or the Homecare/Hospice mainline at 830.990.1336 and ask for support.

COVID-19 Spiritual resources

 


March 20, 2020

Visitation Update:
Effective Monday, March 23, HCM will stop allowing visitors into any of its facilities. Exceptions may be made for child birth, parents of pediatric patients, end of life patients, and emergency situations in the emergency department. Visitors who are allowed in will be screened at the entrance. If they have a temperature of 100.4 or greater they will not be allowed entrance.

HCM learned that San Antonio has had several cases of community transmission. HCM is working diligently to prolong the spread as much as possible. This is our latest effort to bend the curve and do what we can do and slow the spread.


March 19, 2020

Hill Country Memorial learned that an HCM team member has been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) and is a presumptive positive case. This means that the state lab determined that the patient is positive for the virus, and the test has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. This team member works at the HCM Hospital facility and has been self-quarantined for several days. We continue to work with the Texas State epidemiologist on exposure protocols. This team member is not a direct care provider.

The state is executing extensive contact tracing to reach those who have had direct, unprotected face-to-face contact with the individual with instruction to stay home, disinfect, and self-quarantine. Infection prevention leaders, in coordination with HCM leadership, have communicated with team members who could have been exposed. Those who have had direct, unprotected contact with this team member have been tested and are currently in quarantine.

The Hill Country continues to be considered a low-risk area. Hill Country Memorial is safe. We have put CDC precautions in place and are actively monitoring developments to ensure that people coming into our facilities are safe and appropriately triaged. In addition, we have infection prevention protocols in place within our facilities to ensure that our staff are wearing personal protective equipment, when needed, and that any patient or team member suspected of having COVID-19 is isolated and separated from other patients and visitors in the facility. We are also continuously evaluating our supply of personal protective equipment to ensure the continued protection of our team.

HCM followed proper protocol procedures of isolation and quarantine to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. “In abundant precaution for our Hill Country residents and visitors, HCM has thoroughly prepared for COVID-19 cases in our hospital and standardized processes in all our facilities,” said Jayne Pope, CEO. “We will continue to work closely with local organizations, city governments and state health departments while following guidelines for preparedness. We want to reassure our communities that we continue operating our hospital and locations at the level of remarkable care you expect from us.”

HCM has set up a drive through testing location with trained team members in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); this effort is to reduce the potential spread of the virus. Please note, this test is only available with a doctor’s order.

If you have the symptoms listed below please call your doctor.

Staying home is important in limiting the spread of this and any disease.
If you do not have a primary care physician please call (830) 997-4353 for a physician screening.

Please continue to practice the following precautionary measures to help minimize exposure to all viral diseases common in the population:

  • Never touch your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands
  • Wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds – Try signing Happy Birthday or the alphabet as you wash.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • When traveling, carry bleach wipes and wipe down all surfaces

As a reminder for patients, please provide full details of signs, symptoms and travel related history at all times to your health care providers. Providing complete transparency allows our medical professionals to provide an accurate assessment and determine effective treatment options in a timely manner to protect all those we serve. Hill County Memorial cares about the people we serve and our goal is to provide you with remarkable care.

HCM will continue providing updates and resources at https://www.hillcountrymemorial.org/special/coronavirus-updates/ and on social media platforms.


March 18, 2020

Your health and safety continue to be of vital importance to all of us at Hill Country Memorial. As we look to flatten the curve in the Hill Country and mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we wanted share our efforts and ask our community members for continued support. As COVID-19 spreads, HCM will continue to review the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) guidance to determine and update the proper screening procedures, treatment protocol and infection control practices to properly care for every patient.

What we are doing:

→ Our HCM Medical Group will be implementing TeleVisits, as appropriate, beginning the week of March 23 for our Medical Group Providers. Please visit HCMTeleHealth.org to learn more.

→ In partnership with our physician community, HCM is carefully considering and reviewing all scheduled elective procedures in efforts to minimize, postpone, or cancel electively scheduled operations, endoscopies, and other invasive procedures this also includes diagnostic testing and non-critical therapeutic interventions. This review process will continue until we have passed the predicted inflection point (highest number of confirmed cases) and we can be confident that HCM can continue supporting patient needs.

→ HCM is committed to provide physical, medical, and informational support to our community during this time. We also make provision for your spiritual support and can connect you to a chaplain by phone as you need. To contact, please call the HCM Information Line, and ask for a chaplain. The chaplain will listen carefully to you and provide spiritual assistance and prayer for callers.

Please continue to review HCMCOVID19.org as we will continue to release additional information.


March 13, 2020

Resources:

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions resource to learn more about COVID-19.

FAQ: COVID-19

Coronavirus Fact Sheet (English) 

Coronavirus Fact Sheet (Spanish)

Center for Disease Control 

Department of State Health Services 


March 11, 2020

In an abundance of caution, HCM has set up a drive through testing location, this test is only available with a doctors order.

If you have the symptoms listed below please call your doctor, staying home is important in limiting the spread of this and any disease.

  • Do you have a fever or cough, sore throat, shortness of breath?

And

  • Have you traveled to any of the following areas in the past 14 days: China, Iran, South Korea, or Italy or anywhere more local that has reported coronavirus, OR come in contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within the last 14 days?
  • Do you have fever AND signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath), AND a history of travel to an affected area OR are an individual with risk factors that put them at a higher risk of poor outcomes?
  • Do you have severe lower respiratory illness requiring hospitalization, with no known origin, contact or history?

March 9, 2020

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to make news around the world, Hill Country Memorial’s leadership remains focused on preparation efforts related to the potential impact of the virus. HCM has not had a (covid-19) case in our area, nor has HCM had the need to test any patient at this time.

Our preparedness efforts to date include ongoing emergency planning, ensuring we have the necessary supplies and equipment to care for our patients, and reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols, including:

  • New – controlled visitation to HCM facilities
  • Ongoing- Screening for potential coronavirus patients
  • Ongoing- Hand hygiene and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Ongoing- Proper environmental cleaning
  • Ongoing- Isolation procedures for patients who may have a respiratory infection
  • Ongoing- communication and coordination with the health department and the CDC

In an abundance of caution as the virus continues to spread and in anticipation of a surge in visitors to our region as we prepare for Spring Break and increased tourism, we are implementing enhanced safety procedures. Again, at this time, we have had no patients tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) at any Hill Country Memorial facility. We are taking these proactive measures in an effort to do what is best for all those we serve.

Patient Access

To better protect our patients and community, we will be limiting visitation to one person per patient for all patients on isolation status.

Badge

All visitors and vendors will be asked to wear a badge that can be seen at all times and is dated with the current date.

Controlled Visitation

To further protect our patients and our staff, we have implemented an access control plan that will restrict access to our facilities to a limited number of entrances. Please note, limiting entry points does not mean limiting access to our facilities. We remain ready to serve potential and current patients. Limiting entry points to our facilities protects our patients, our physicians and our team members. Masks will be placed on any patient who meets certain screening criteria, as well as on any visitors accompanying them. Visitors who have symptoms of illness may be asked not to enter the facility in an effort to prevent the spread of germs and ensure patient safety. They should go home and monitor their illness as they would a cold or flu.

Please continue to practice the following precautionary measures to help minimize exposure to all viral diseases common in the population:

  • Never touch your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands
  • Wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • When traveling, carry bleach wipes and wipe down all surfaces

As the situation continues to develop and more information becomes available, HCM will provide updates to the hill country community.


March 6, 2020

Daily there is increasingly more attention placed on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The HCM team has been careful and thorough in its work to ensure our communities are well prepared and safe.

Our extensive preparedness efforts include enhancing and reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols, ensuring we have needed supplies and equipment, and planning for staffing contingencies, among others.

We have activated our internal team to coordinate preparations, communications and local response to suspected COVID-19 patients, media, team member, volunteer, and medical staff concerns. We are working directly with local and regional emergency personnel and coordinating agencies, which allows us to collaborate and draw on extensive resources and expertise.

To date, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in any HCM facility. We continue to work in close partnership with local, state and federal health officials to properly identify and test any at-risk patients in keeping with guidance from the CDC. The recommended source of information is the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. Please also refer to the attached flyer for specific information on what you need to know. As new information from the CDC becomes available, we will continue to share updates with you.

We know that coronavirus (COVID-19) is on the minds of many people around the world. For more information and updates, please visit HCM’s website https://www.hillcountrymemorial.org/special/coronavirus-updates/ and the HCM Facebook or Instagram pages.

It’s important that all of us remember these everyday habits that can protect us and others from common respiratory illness:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often, using either soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel for at least 20 seconds
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • If you have a loved one in the hospital, please limit your visits as much as possible to minimize exposure.
  • If a person is asymptomatic the coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kit is not appropriate

Do not come to the emergency department just to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have signs and symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact your physician for over the phone screening. If you screen positive at that time, the state health department will be notified and further instructions provided. You and members of your household should stay at home. Do not go to work, school or public places if you have symptoms of any respiratory illness (i.e. flu, coronavirus).

The disease can be more dangerous to those with preexisting medical conditions and the elderly. If you don’t need to go out, stay home.

We are monitoring this situation closely and will continue to provide you with regular updates.

Resources

Coronavirus Fact Sheet (English)    Coronavirus Fact Sheet (Spanish)


March 3

HCM and local first responders, specifically EMS, continue to work very closely to monitor the activity and spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Valued community partners to include the City of Fredericksburg, Gillespie County, local law enforcement, and EMS are communicating on a regular basis and holding and participating weekly in phone conferences and meetings to keep the lines of communication open and consistent.

While Gillespie and surrounding counties are still considered a low risk area, and while no cases of the specific coronavirus strain COVID-19 have been reported, HCM will continue to serve as the hub of communication and collaborate with established healthcare partners in order to keep the lines of communication open and consistent.

According to Dr. Jim Partin, Chief Medical Officer, “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory symptoms, such as a common cold. HCM does administer respiratory panel testing for common respiratory viruses, which can result in a positive coronavirus, but not one associated with the specific COVID-19, which is associated with international travel.”

Partin says it is not too late to get the flu shot and offers other tips to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and all respiratory illnesses to include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces at least daily.
  • Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow. Throw the tissue in the garbage and make sure to clean your hands afterwards.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Do NOT send your children to school if they are sick or have a fever.

While healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and stores are experiencing a high demand for facemasks, Partin points out that the masks should be used for persons who are ill or experiencing respiratory symptoms in order to keep these symptoms from spreading in the general public. The masks are not necessary for people who are not ill.

HCM will continue to monitor and collect all resources from the AHA, CDC, TDSHS, other hospitals and health organizations, and work closely with Gillespie area health partners to keep the public updated and informed.