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Local hospitals prepared for unlikely spread of coronavirus

Health & Fitness

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IDAHO FALLS — The Wuhan coronavirus isn’t in Idaho and isn’t expected to show up any time soon, but east Idaho hospitals are prepared in case it does.

East Idaho hospitals are keeping close tabs on what the Centers for Disease Control is saying about the coronavirus and following the recommendations it puts out. If the deadly virus makes it to eastern Idaho, hospitals already have procedures in place and are prepared to deal with it.

“In regard to the coronavirus threat, we keep tabs daily on the latest CDC procedures, recommendations and updates, adhering to what they recommend we do to best mitigate the risks posed by this new disease,” Madison Memorial Hospital spokesman Perry Shumway said.

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center Infection Prevention Program manager April Walker says EIRMC is looking for anyone who comes into the hospital with any kind of respiratory infection.

“Fever, cough, shortness of breath and then, have they traveled to China,” Walker said. “They are also interested in people that have come from China that have had interactions with other people in China.”

Shumway said Madison Memorial also has infection prevention and control procedures in place. Some of those include staff training, employing an infection preventionist and having multiple negative-air-pressure rooms used for treating those carrying an airborne illness.

Bingham Memorial Hospital spokesman Jericho Cline said the hospital takes precautions to prevent the spread of any respiratory illnesses, as well as following CDC guidelines and procedures on the coronavirus.

There are currently eight cases of the coronavirus in the United States and 121 patients being monitored who may have the virus, according to the CDC.

“It’s not an outbreak in the U.S. The CDC isn’t calling it that and we certainly aren’t calling it that,” EIRMC spokeswoman Coleen Neimann said.

However, Walker encouraged people to maintain healthy practices such as hand washing.

“One thing we’re always promoting every day is good hand washing,” Walker said. “We pride ourselves in promoting good hand washing at every opportunity here at EIRMC.”

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