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Forrest Health gives update on COVID-19 response and preparedness in Pearl River County

Bryan Maxie, Regional Manager/CEO for Forrest Health (operators of Highland Community Hospital-Picayune and Pearl River County Hospital-Poplarville) provided the supervisors an update on how Forrest Health is responding to COVID-19.

“We are limiting access to our facilities in an effort to limit the spreading of any disease that may be out there,” Maxie stated.

Maxie said the hospitals are limiting visiting at the hospitals to one visitor and he expects to not allow visitors beginning later this week as a precautionary measure for both patients and staff of the hospitals. He noted they have stopped visitation at the nursing home in Poplarville. They have closed access to the cafeteria at Highland to the public.

Maxie said they are encouraging any type of elective services for patients be postponed when possible unless that procedure or service has an impact on the current health of a patient.

“I feel good that we are as prepared as anybody out there. We have been a forefront leader within the state. The first two cases in Mississippi did come through our hospital in Highland before being transferred to Forrest General. Both of those patients are in stable condition,” Maxie shared.

“We are doing everything from a healthcare standpoint to protect our residents in Pearl River County, and also our patients and our staff in our facilities.”

Maxie said they have been in constant contact with the Mississippi Department of Health’s Dr. Paul Byers and Dr. Thomas Dobbs and they have been very responsive.

“It comes down to common sense, and in a lot of areas people have not used common sense. I’m telling you and everyone to stay away from crowds, if at all possible, please try to stay home. We are following the guidelines of the CDC and we hope everyone else will adhere to that as well, ” Maxie stated.

Dr. Angela Jones described the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the “most serious health crisis that has hit America in our lifetime. If we don’t flatten the curve (the spread of the virus), we are going to have a lot more people really, really sick.”

Dr. Jones said that 80 percent of the people who get this virus have mild symptoms, but they are carriers, the other 20 percent end up on ventilators.

Dr. Jones said that the virus is tougher for the elderly and provided statistics that show an increase in severity of the Coronavirus, particularly those over the age of 50. The death overall is around 3.6 percent when factoring in all ages, but for those over 80 years of age, the death rate around 20 percent. Dr. Jones explained the increased R0 value of COVID-19 Pronounced “R nought”, R0 is the reproductive rate of a virus or infection.

“It is highly contagious and is much more contagious that the common cold or even the flu. If someone has the flu, the R0 value is one. For the Coronavirus, the R0 value is three,” she explained.

Using that ratio, she stated that 15 steps down of the R0 value that number is 14.3 million because of exponential growth according to Dr. Jones.

“That’s the problem. People are going to get sick. What we are trying to do is flatten the curve. What happened in Italy resulted in them overrunning their health care system, which is a great system, but they do not have the capacity to take care of that many sick people with ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds and ventilators.”

Maxie reiterated that there is not a vaccine or medicine in place for COVID-19. They can only treat a patient’s symptoms and try to keep the patient well and alive. If a person feels they have symptoms, please do not come to the emergency rooms. Call your local physician and arrange how to get with them to move forward with testing and care.

Maxie stated that Highland facility has 6 ventilators and there are currently none at the Pearl River County Hospital. Maxie said the two hospitals in the county have a total of 67 beds (49 at Highland in Picayune and 18 at Pearl River in Poplarville).



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