The Central Peninsula Hospital issued new restrictions to the public to help limit exposure to patients and staff, on Tuesday, March, 17, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

The Central Peninsula Hospital issued new restrictions to the public to help limit exposure to patients and staff, on Tuesday, March, 17, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

New rules in effect at hospital

Community should not come to the hospital or clinics unless they are there for a health care reason.

The Central Peninsula Hospital is limiting nonessential access to reduce exposure to the new coronavirus to staff, patients and Heritage Place residents.

The hospital is asking community members to not come to the hospital or outpatient clinics unless they are there for a health care related reason until further notice.

The hospital’s gift shop has been closed. The cafeteria has been closed until further notice. All volunteer services have been halted and volunteers have been sent home. Central Peninsula Hospital’s cardiac rehab and pulmonary rehab have been closed until further notice.

In a Tuesday press release, the Central Peninsula Hospital said they expect levels of restrictions to increase in the near future, which will involve screening of all patients and visitors.

The hospital will see a “tightening down” of access as the spread of COVID-19 progresses, Bruce Richards, the government and public affairs official for the hospital, said.

The hospital is collecting samples with nasal swabs and sending those specimens to be tested at state labs. No testing is being done at the hospital as they do not have the capability, Richards said.

Staff at the hospital are also working to conserve existing supplies and personal protective equipment. The hospital has 49 beds and ventilators in stock, Richards said.

“As such, we want to make sure potential new cases are identified immediately, that our front line staff have the necessary PPE, training and support they need to provide care to those patients,” the release said.

Richards said there are no positive cases on the Kenai Peninsula, but if there is, the hospital will publicly report it.

“It’s changing rapidly all the time,” Richards said.

Richards is urging residents to not visit health care facilities if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. He said people should call their primary care doctor of public health officials, who will assess cases. Doctors will refer residents to give samples for testing of COVID-19. This will keep frontline health care workers safe and prevent spread of disease, Richards said.

“Patients who are screened at CPH outpatient clinics and need further assessment or testing, will be directed by their clinic physician to the CPH ER ambulance bay where we have constructed three negative pressure screening rooms,” Rick Davis, CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital, said in the press release. “These will be used for further triage, assessment and testing if necessary.”

Heritage Place outpatient physical therapy has been closed with patients going to alternate locations. The hospital’s health fair, scheduled for April 4, is canceled. All community classes held at CPH have been canceled until further notice. Dine and Discuss with Dr. Hough has been canceled.

The hospital is placing specific restrictions at Heritage Place. The senior care facility is no longer allowing visitors to enter the building with the exception of health care workers, family, clergy and bereavement counselors in the case of an end-of-life situation. These individuals must be wearing personal protective equipment, perform frequent hand hygiene and be limited to a specific area.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Symptoms for the disease include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

As of Tuesday, March 17, there are 4,226 known cases of the virus in the United States and 75 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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