Hospital issues coronavirus travel alert

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Martha's Vineyard Hospital is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak. - File photo

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is closely monitoring the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak first detected in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province in central China, according to a press release issued by the hospital. While the risk to the public remains low in Massachusetts, the hospital is being vigilant, and communicates daily with experts across the Partners Healthcare System to ensure the hospital is ready to properly protect patients, staff, and community. 

At Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and within the Partners Healthcare System, infectious disease specialists, emergency management, occupational health, communications, and other leadership groups have been actively working together to share up-to-the-moment updates and to fine-tune emergency response should it be necessary, according to the release. Hospital officials continue to closely monitor the latest developments, and are following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local public health officials. 

Last week, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital initiated a meeting with local healthcare leaders. Participants included representatives from the Island’s EMT and fire departments, school nurses and administrative leaders, town health agents, the airport, and Vineyard Medical Center. The discussion centered around preparedness and coordination of services, information, and resources, should Martha’s Vineyard be faced with a positive coronavirus diagnosis. These scheduled calls will take place twice weekly or as needed. 

“It’s true that our community is more likely to be impacted by the effects of a flu outbreak, but we aren’t as insulated when it comes to these matters as one may think. This is the time of year many Vineyarders travel far and wide, and we want to remind everyone that if you have a layover, or your destination is listed as one of the countries of concern from the CDC, please take proper precautions for your own safety and that of those around you,” Denise Schepici, president and CEO of MVH, said. “We feel prepared at MVH should a coronavirus diagnosis 

happen on the Island, and would like to thank our community partners who have joined us on the preparation calls to be sure we are well coordinated in our efforts.” 

The CDC suggests if you have traveled to or through China, Hong Kong or Macao in the last 30 days, you self-isolate and call your primary care provider if you feel unwell. 

General reminders from the CDC: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using facemasks. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear facemasks to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including 2019-nCoV. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of coronavirus, in order to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers, and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility). 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. 

“Our mantra in emergency preparedness is that we prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We hope to never have to activate our incident command center for the coronavirus, but should we need to, we are well prepared at MVH and in the community,” Claire Seguin, chief quality and clinical officer, said in the release. “We can’t stress enough the importance of washing your hands — it helps keep you and those around you free from germ exposure. We wish everyone happy, healthy, and safe travels this winter season.”