FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nome, Alaska – On Thursday, March 12, the State of Alaska announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Anchorage. Officials say the patient self-disclosed and did not expose the public, and they expect the case to be isolated. Nevertheless, health care organizations across the state are taking precautions to limit exposure of their facilities to the coronavirus and other viruses. These steps will help ensure the health of patients, visitors, and health care providers, who will be needed to serve in the weeks to come.
Norton Sound Health Corporation is asking people who feel ill to stay home, unless their symptoms are severe enough to warrant a visit to the hospital or clinic. If patients coming to NSHC have a cough or respiratory illness, they will be given a mask to wear in order to reduce other people’s exposure to sickness. If a mask is not available, patients will be given a tissue to cover their cough or sneeze.
Most common colds and flu viruses can and should be treated from home. To limit exposure to other illnesses at the hospital and in village clinics, people who are feeling sick are encouraged to treat at home. For those needing advice on medical at-home care in Nome and the villages, you may call the Nurse Call Line at 443-6411.
Similarly, people who have had contact with someone ill with the coronavirus or have traveled to a place where the virus is prevalent and are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus (fever, coughing, and shortness of breath) are asked to call ahead before coming in to the hospital or local clinic to be treated. They should call the Nurse Call Line at 443-6411, so that NSHC staff can be prepared for their arrival and help limit exposure to the rest of the facility.
If a person is tested for the coronavirus, there will be a waiting period as samples are sent out to be tested. During that timeframe and during recovery, people will be asked to isolate themselves from others at home, unless the illness becomes worse and patients need medical care. At home, those patients will still need to practice infection prevention – washing hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding other members of their household. Home isolation should continue until your provider says it is safe to leave once again.
Diligently practicing those basic hygiene habits is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Most patients who contract the coronavirus will have mild to moderate symptoms and can treat safely from home. The best way to weather the coronavirus is much like with the flu: get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take fever-reducing medications if needed.