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.