The Morgan County Health Department wants to make sure area residents know what to do and where to call about COVID-19 concerns.
Morgan County Health Department Administrator, Dale Bainter says that the health department is aware there are a lot of people out there with questions about the coronavirus, such as what to do if you feel like you are sick, or feel you may have been exposed to the virus.
Bainter says that the health department wants to make sure the community has the information they can use to help keep themselves and those around them safe.
Bainter says that minimizing close contact and informing the public of who to call or where to go will help keep institutions like Passavant Area Hospital or the Health Department from being overrun, and allow them to better manage patients of any need as they come in.
“The most important thing to our response and the reason you see us taking the measures we are taking, closing all of these locations where people congregate, a large population together in close proximity that’s where the virus spreads. So as we can eliminate people being in close contact, we can control the spread of it, or the rate in which it spreads.
So the goal is, as the cases go up, they go up at a slower rate instead of a fast spike. If you think about the curve and the increase in number of cases we report, and what is so important about controlling that rate of spread is to protect our healthcare system.
You look at our local hospital being Passavant Hospital. It’s a regional hospital, we have a wonderful resource there but it serves many counties, and if we were to have this sudden spike or sudden incidents of spread of the virus, we are going to tax those resources.”
Bainter says that if Passavant can have a more gradual increase in cases, the hospital will be able to handle it better.
Bainter says if you have general questions about COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Public Health’s resources are a great way to get questions answered while allowing local health providers to focus on treating patients.
“The first thing to do would be to reach out to the Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline. It’s a great resource, it has a lot of information on it that is general information about the virus, the spread of the virus and what’s being done at the national and state level to combat this pandemic.
That number for IDPH is 1-800-889-3931. They also have an email that is DPH.SICK@illinois.gov And this is a great resource for general questions.
This will allow us to protect our local healthcare providers and their valuable time right now, as they are taking care of the community to not have to answer those general questions.”
Bainter says that if you start to feel sick, call your healthcare provider first before going to the health department or the hospital.
“If you are sick and your symptoms are something you could manage- stay home. That is what we are encouraging people to do. There is a lot of stress being put on our healthcare system right now. So if this is something you feel like you could take care of at home, you know just a general common cold feeling, let’s stay home for at least seven days after you first become ill, or 72 hours after your fever has resolved.
So fever, cough, trouble breathing, something that begins to get a little more symptomatic, or a little more concerned about, then you need to reach out to your healthcare provider.
There’s been a lot of information out there that you need to contact the health department, but remember, the best resource you have when you are sick is your providers. If you don’t have a provider you can seek an acute care clinic such as a prompt care, or a rapid care. And last case if you don’t have resources to either of those, is the emergency department. But remember, emergency is in it’s name, it’s an emergency if you’re calling the emergency department.”
Bainter says that if you think you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it, the process should be the same, he says the first step is to reach out to your provider.
“And I can’t stress enough, don’t just show up to your providers office, don’t just show up to the emergency room, call ahead. Make sure they know you are coming, you think you have these symptoms, and then they can walk you through the steps.
If you think you have a medical emergency, then of course call 911, again stressing that’s in the event of an emergency. But if you just feel that you may have symptoms similar to this and you need to reach out to your primary care physician, that’s the route to follow. They are going to direct your care.”
The Morgan County Health Department has altered their services for the time being, focusing on essential services only. Bainter says that programs such as WIC, family planning and immunizations will continue to be provided.
Services are now being provided by appointment and emergency appointment only. Bainter says that they still want to make sure a WIC recipient can still receive the vouchers needed to for the program, and that he and his staff are working to make those via a call in basis and offer a curbside pick up.
Baniter says the efforts are to try and keep the risk of spreading the virus low in the building while continuing to provide services to the public.
The SIU Center for Family Medicine Primary Care Clinic will continue to be open. Bainter stresses that if you feel sick or think you have been exposed, call first before dropping in on healthcare services to help keep the risk of exposure low.
To contact the IDPH hotline, dial 1-800-889-3931 or by email at DPH.SICK@illinois.gov