As the COVID-19 virus pandemic is sweeping the nation and our world, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center (NARMC) is taking a lead role in protecting our community. On Thursday, March 18, the Arkansas Department of Health announced that two cases of COVID-19 were found in NARMC’s service area.
With cases indicated in Boone and Searcy counties, it is time for the community to take this virus seriously. Cities across our nation have closed businesses and schools, issued warnings and called for a massive reduction of public exposure. City officials have made difficult decisions with the public’s welfare in mind. Nevada has closed all non-essential businesses. Schools in the state of Kansas are closed the rest of the school year. Museums, restaurants and bars are closed in New Orleans, New York and as of late, in the state of Arkansas.
NARMC officials are urging the community to stay home and self-isolate as much as possible. It is time to be proactive in order to keep the each other safe.
“It is crucial for community members to practice social distancing,” NARMC Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer Sammie Cribbs said. “Group gatherings and other social activities should be postponed. Non-essential activities should be ceased. Serious attention to social isolation is necessary to protect our community.”
Social distancing can look different for everyone. Picking up take-out, taking a walk, spending time in your home, reading a book, not visiting elderly neighbors or family members and hosting a family game night with your immediate family who reside inside your home are examples of social distancing. Attending a dance class, movie theatre or eating in a busy restaurant are ways not to social distance. Group gatherings of greater than 10 individuals should be avoided for at least 14 days.
Healthcare officials urge the public to stay home especially if you are not feeling well. If you do feel sick enough to see a physician, call your physician’s office before going in for a visit. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is urging the public to stay at least 6 feet apart from others, completely avoid cruise and any nonessential travel, including visiting restaurants and grocery stores, avoid all gatherings of ten or more people and do not visit nursing, retirement and long-term care facilities.
NARMC is following all of the CDC precautions and using technology in place of meetings. Earlier this week, the decision was made to restrict all hospital visitors. Special consideration will be made for obstetrics and other patient needs on a case by case basis.
The former Bear State Bank building on Highway 65, which is now known as the NARMC Medical Plaza, has been converted to a drive-thru viral screening clinic. The clinic is currently open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will screen for flu, strep and COVID-19. The testing supplies for COVID-19 remain limited and NARMC is following the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines. This will be an off-site targeted testing site for viral illness. The goal of the screening clinic is to provide convenient viral screening services. If you have mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough or body aches, please call 870-414-4010 before leaving home.
NARMC officials are working closely with Boone County Office of Emergency Management, Harrison City Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, city and chamber officials. Together, they are monitoring the COVID-19 situation and working together to keep the community healthy and safe.
Earlier this week, Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway declared a disaster and made the decision to lock all county offices for the immediate future.
“The safety of our citizens and county staff are our top priority,” Judge Hathaway said. “Appointments can still be made with county offices, but all individuals will be required to sign in. We are taking these steps to help decrease any spread of illness in our community.”
This week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called for all restaurant dining areas to be closed around the state. Local restaurants are open only using their drive-thru, curbside pick-up and delivery.
Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson urges businesses and community members to carefully consider the safety and health of our citizens before you plan a gathering or you choose to open your business.
“We are very thankful to businesses who have taken extra precautions to prioritize the health and well-being of our citizens,” Mayor Jackson said.
In times of crisis, our community works together for the good of all citizens. That is exactly what we are seeing happening now. The time to step back and keep distance from one another is now for the sake of the community and healthcare workers. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we know our community will evolve alongside it.