Ephraim COVID cases up this month, more could be hospitalized

Published 8:49 am Saturday, October 17, 2020

3% of Ephraim associates have tested positive since March


Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical is preparing for an increase in COVID-19 patients due to an increasing number of positive cases being reported in surrounding counties.

Jeremy Cocanougher, interim marketing director for Ephraim McDowell Health, said the hospital has seen an uptick in COVID patients since the first week of October. “With the increase of positive patients in our communities, it is very possible,” that more people will be admitted to the hospital with the virus, he said.

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EMRMC has 15 beds in its COVID unit and two COVID beds in its critical care unit. However, they were not all occupied as of Friday afternoon.

There are also more COVID beds available at EMH’s other hospitals including Haggin Hospital in Harrodsburg and Ft. Logan Hospital in Stanford.

Because the COVID-19 virus doesn’t always show symptoms in some people, he said several patients have been admitted for other health reasons then tested positive for the virus. “All inpatients are tested upon admission,” Cocanougher said.

On Thursday afternoon, the emergency department had patients in nearly every bed. And in one case a 91-year-old patient who had just tested positive for the virus was kept isolated in an enclosed emergency room for nearly 12 hours before being taken to a room in the COVID unit, according to this writer.

Cocanougher explained, “At times our emergency departments can become very busy and the sickest patients will be seen first. … If a COVID positive patient needs to be admitted and our COVID unit is full, a patient may have a longer than normal wait time before they are placed in the COVID unit or are transferred to another hospital.

The virus is also creeping into EMH’s staff.

“We have a unit at one of our facilities where a group of six associates tested positive. All of those associates are off work,” Cocanougher said.

“All associates are screened for COVID symptoms on a daily basis and are required to stay at home if they are symptomatic.”

“We have had a small number of associates who have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. The percentage of associates who have tested positive since March is right at 3%. They are from various departments and locations throughout the Ephraim McDowell Health system.” He confirmed that the health system employs approximately 1,700 associates.

However, Cocanougher said the staff at all of “Ephraim’s hospitals and other facilities are staffed properly and in accordance with any legal and accreditation requirements for patient care.”

Cocanougher said not all COVID patients at EMRMC are from Boyle County.

“They have been reported to the health department in the county where the patient resides,” he explained.

He also said the majority of COVID patients at EMRMC are over the age of 60 and are not residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

The hospital has a total of 16 ventilators throughout its health system, Cocanougher said. But most of them are currently being used for “non-COVID patients.”

“Our organization is following all of the CDC guidelines as it relates to COVID-19. Ephraim McDowell has taken preventative health measures to limit exposures to associates and patients such as increasing hand hygiene stations and environmental cleaning, creating social distancing of 6 feet within public areas, wearing masks at all times while in any EMH building, having adequate personal protective equipment available for all associates and testing all patients on admission. Our associates can request a COVID test at any time,” he said.

Cocanougher added that despite concern of COVID cases at the hospital, “If people are in need of emergency department care, they should seek that care.”