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Huntsville Hospital revises visitation, cities prepare safeguards

MADISON COUNTY – To protect the public from the potential spread of illness, Huntsville Hospital temporarily has changed a policy, while the cities of Madison and Huntsville are monitoring any possible threats from contagions with COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

Huntsville Hospital has updated its visitation policy for Madison County facilities temporarily to limit the number of visitors allowed in patient rooms. In addition, the hospital has suspended programs for student job shadowing.

A maximum of two visitors can visit at one time in a patient room at Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital.

Anyone with fever, cough, body aches or sore throat should not visit the hospital or hospital-affiliated clinics, unless that individual is seeking health care.

In addition, the hospitals ask that children younger than 16 not to visit patients, even when accompanied by adults. However, the hospital will make an exception for extraordinary circumstances.

Finally, each visitor is required to sanitize his or her hands when entering the hospital, along with entering and exiting patient rooms.

For information, call Alabama Department of Public Health at 334-206-5347 or visit alabamapublichealth.gov and go to infectiousdiseases/2019-coronavirus.html.

In addition, the City of Huntsville, City of Madison and Madison County conducted a news conference with healthcare leaders on coronavirus preparations on Feb. 26. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison Mayor Paul Finley, Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong and state and local health care leaders updated the public on preparations to manage potential cases of coronavirus.

Although COVID-19 cases have not been reported in Alabama, Battle said the community has procedures in place to respond if the virus does reach Huntsville. “Our community is prepared. We’re ready,” he said.

“We … will all work in conjunction with each other to make sure we take care of everybody in the community and across the board,” Battle said.

Dr. Karen Landers said COVID-19 is primarily spread by respiratory droplets by coughing and sneezing. The virus, which can appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, can range from mild, cold-like symptoms to severe illness and death. Landers is District Medical Officer for Alabama Department of Public Health.

Health agencies are finalizing response plans in case the virus arrives here, Landers said. “We have the experience to respond to this. We are staying up-to-date on the information.”

Dr. Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, said her hospital continually works to prepare for all types of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. “We have been educating our team members on the infection control protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” she said.

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