By Krista Allen
Lake Powell Chronicle
PAGE AND TUBA CITY, Ariz. – Page Hospital today announced visitor restrictions that will no longer allow visitors due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Banner Health will begin restricting visitors on March 20. This move is to create a safe and secure environment for patients and health care workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, said David Young, a public relations specialist for Banner Health.
“We understand that this will be challenging, but we’re committed to take the necessary precautions to protect our patients, health care workers, and the community,” Banner’s media team said in a statement.
There are two exceptions to the visitor restriction. The first one is pediatric patients under 18 may have one adult visitor with them. And laboring women may have one support person with them.
“Because we understand the importance of engaging with loved ones, we highly encourage phone calls, FaceTime or video chats to stay in touch during this time,” the statement reads.
Page Hospital (501 N. Navajo Dr.) also has test kits, as well as Banner Health Clinic (601 N. Navajo Dr.), said Nancy Neff, the regional program director and spokeswoman for Banner Health in Phoenix.
Page Hospital employees are urging the community to practice handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, blowing one’s nose, and coughing and sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, people should use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. And avoid touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation in Tuba City also has a limited number of COVID-19 test kits and will test patients only if they are admitted into the hospital.
“At this time, we are encouraging our community to not panic, but to be prepared and use prevention techniques for respiratory viruses,” said Lynette Bonar, CEO for TCRHCC. “TCRHCC is continuing to prepare for the potential spread of the COVID-19 illness with county and state partners, as well as local health care providers.”
TCRHCC also announced visitor restrictions to protect patients, families, visitors, and the hospital health care team.
TCRHCC is cancelling all elective surgeries and will be rescheduled in the future. Emergency surgeries however will be on a per case basis.
“We will be cancelling non-emergent and limit same-day appointments until further notice,” said Aurelia Yazzie, community relations officer at TCRHCC.
As of Friday morning (March 20), there are a total of 63 positive COVID-19 cases in Arizona (34 in Maricopa, 10 in Pinal, 8 in Pima, 5 in Coconino, 3 in Navajo, 1 in Graham, 1 in Santa Cruz, and 1 in Yavapa). And there are 101 pending cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. A total of 343 people have been tested and 211 have been ruled out.
“TCRHCC is actively monitoring the COVID-19, a respiratory infection with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath,” Yazzie said. “At this time, TCRHCC has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as ‘low’ for the general population in Western Navajo, but this could change rapidly. The vast majority of people with the disease have mild symptoms and will not require medical intervention.”
Yazzie urges people with mild symptoms to stay home and self-quarantine.
“If you are told to stay home and self-quarantine, please stay home – do not go into public areas. If your family … has contact with you during this time, they also should stay home and practice social distancing.”
Visitors to TCRHCC will also be screened in accordance with the restricted visitor access policy at the hospital’s two access points. These measures are in response to the three positive COVID-19 cases in the nearby Navajo County.
Editor’s note: This has been updated at 11:20 a.m. on March 20, 2020. This article includes a corrected quote by Aurelia Yazzie, community relations officer at TCRHCC, not Lisa Butler, the senior executive assistant to TCRHCC CEO Lynette Bonar. This article also includes current numbers provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services.