Bassett Healthcare Network is closely following the new coronavirus. The virus, called COVID-19, continues to spread internationally and in the U.S. It is important to understand most healthy people are unlikely to contract the virus and if they do, will experience mild symptoms. Those most at risk for severe illness from upper respiratory diseases, like influenza and the new coronavirus, are older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.

What is Bassett doing?

As the new coronavirus has progressed in the U.S., experts from across all areas of the Bassett health system have been meeting daily to understand the current situation locally and adjust our response as needed.

Bassett’s partners in the response to COVID-19 are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and our local county public health departments.

Although there have not yet been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the eight counties served by Bassett Healthcare Network, the numbers statewide continue to climb. In preparation for the onset of the new coronavirus locally and the possibility it may become widespread, Bassett is taking the following actions.

· A central phone number is being developed to triage individuals who are concerned they may have symptoms of upper respiratory illness and need further evaluation. This number is anticipated to be operational within a week.

· All patients determined to need a follow-up visit will be given an appointment and directed to next steps, including referral to screening sites.

· Screening sites are being installed as a first means of evaluation outside the outpatient clinics at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, FoxCare Center in Oneonta, Herkimer Health Center, Cobleskill Health Center and Norwich Health Center.

· External evaluation areas are being established at the network’s hospitals, Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, Fox Hospital in Oneonta, Cobleskill Regional Hospital, O’Connor Hospital, and Little Falls Hospital, to accommodate screened or referred patients who may require more evaluation. Note: Patients must have an appointment before coming to these external evaluation areas.

· Telemedicine capabilities are being expanded to be able to screen more patients remotely, thereby avoiding unnecessary travel and the possible exposure of others to upper respiratory illness.

· A coronavirus resource page is available on the network’s public facing website bassett.org.

· Education of staff and practitioners about COVID-19 and precautions is ongoing to remain up-to-date with current guidance from the CDC and NYSDOH.

Symptoms

COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms similar to influenza, such as:

· Fever

· Cough

· Trouble breathing

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear two days to two weeks after exposure to the virus, which is why people who travel in the specific outbreak regions are quarantined for 14 days.

Take Steps to Help Prevent the Spread

· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

· Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.

· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

· It is best to cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper arm; avoid using your hands. If you do cough or sneeze into your hand, wash your hands immediately.

· Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

· Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).