Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness Information

Rutherford Regional Health System continues to work closely with the local health department and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the hospitals and clinics are prepared with the appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in the community contract or be exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Below are a number of resources to help educate you and your family on COVID-19. For more information on the virus, please contact the Rutherford County Health Department at 828.287.6100

COVID VACCINE REGISTRATION PROCESS  (added by Marty Bowser 1/20/21) 

Rutherford Regional has received a number of questions from our patients about when the COVID-19 vaccine may be available to them. While we are thrilled with the outpouring of interest from our community members in getting vaccinated, it is important to keep in mind that we are following a very specific process that will take time to roll out more broadly.

At this time, we are focusing on administering COVID-19 vaccines in accordance with prioritization guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal government, and North Carolina – this includes vaccinating our own healthcare workers and individuals ages 65+ We are carefully following the protocols in place and will continue to work closely with Rutherford County Health Department. To complete the first step of registering for your COVID-19 vaccine please visit www.RutherfordCOVID.com and complete the provided form.

Common Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines:

We know there are a lot of questions about the emerging COVID-19 vaccines. Our goal is to keep you informed as vaccines are approved and rolled out for our workforce, patients, and community in the weeks ahead.

We have created a list of common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines based on current knowledge and understanding. These questions will continue to evolve with time, so we encourage you to check back frequently for the most up-to-date information.

  1. Who is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine? When will it be available to the general public?

We are in the process of distributing the vaccine in accordance with prioritization guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal government, and our state health departments. Vaccine administration has begun with our frontline healthcare workers. As soon as the vaccine becomes more broadly available, we strongly encourage our community to get vaccinated.

  1. The vaccine was produced very quickly. How do I know it is safe?

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is the top priority while federal partners work to make the COVID-19 vaccines. Despite what the name may suggest, “Operation Warp Speed” does not mean that manufacturers were able to skip steps or cut corners in the vaccine development process. Instead, after the development of the vaccine, manufacturers took a secured risk and overlapped the study, manufacturing, and distribution phases. The FDA committed to giving these vaccinations priority (not rushed) review at all phases of the studies, which helped speed up the overall process. Ongoing monitoring of vaccine effectiveness and side effect reports will continue to be evaluated by the FDA and the manufacturers.

  1. If I get the COVID-19 vaccine, should I still wear a mask?

Yes. For several reasons, a mask and other proven methods of preventing COVID-19 (hand hygiene and social distancing) are still important even after receiving the vaccine. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. 

4If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available?

Yes. At this time, the vaccine is recommended even if you previously tested positive for COVID-19. There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again; this is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people who have had COVID-19 greater than 90 days ago should proceed with getting the vaccine. Due to limited vaccine supply, if you have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days, your likelihood of reinfection is low enough during this time period that you can wait to get the vaccine until you hit the 90-day mark after being sick.

5. Can you contract COVID-19 by getting the vaccine?

No. The vaccine is NOT a live vaccine, and it is NOT possible to contract COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine. Some people experience side effects from the vaccine, such as headache, muscle pain, or fever – but that does not mean you have COVID-19.  It means your body is working to build the necessary immunity against the virus, which is a good thing. 

6. What are the possible side effects/adverse events from the COVID-19 vaccine? 

The most common adverse reactions reported have been fatigue, headache, fever/chills, and joint pain. This means your body is working to build the necessary immunity against the virus.

You can read more in Pfizer’s FDA Briefing Document about the side effects reported among the vaccine study participants

7. Can the COVID-19 vaccine be administered to children?

The COVID-19 vaccine is not indicated for children younger than 16 years old at this time.

8. Can the COVID-19 vaccine be administered to pregnant women?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals. It is important to note that the COVID-19 vaccines currently available have not been tested in pregnant women, so there is no safety data specific to use in pregnancy. Pregnant women should make an informed decision after discussing with their healthcare provider.

9. How many doses are required? If multiple, when do I get another dose?

For both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, two doses are required. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine should be administered 21 days after the first dose. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine should be administered 28 days after the first dose. It is very important to note that the second dose must be from the same manufacturer as the first dose. 

10. What should I do if I am unable to get the second dose exactly 21 days (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna) after the first dose?

While it is recommended that you receive the second dose as soon as feasible after day 21 or day 28, we understand that it might not be possible to receive it on the desired date. This could be due to multiple reasons. Please keep the following in mind if you cannot receive the second vaccine dose on the desired date:

  1. You must receive the second dose from the same manufacturer as the first dose.
  2. Get the second dose as soon as possible after the desired date has passed, as it is better to get the second dose late than not at all. You will still experience the same efficacy in the long run, although you may not see the full effect of the immunity until a few weeks after the second dose.

      11. How long after receiving both doses of the vaccine until it is considered effective?

      Similar to the flu vaccine, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected          with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide                  protection. As a general rule, the vaccine is considered effective about two weeks after the second dose, according to the manufacturers. There is evidence        that the first dose will begin providing some immunity, but it is still very important to receive the second dose for optimal results. 

     12. Can I choose which vaccine I get (Pfizer or Moderna)?


      We do not recommend waiting for a specific manufacturer. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have similar efficacy and potential side effects and have shown decreased disease severity in the small numbers of study participants who contracted COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine. Both manufacturers require two doses. It is important to remember that the second dose you receive must be from the same manufacturer. The early defense is better than no defense against COVID-19.


 

COVID-19 Visitation Guidelines

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutherford Regional has put temporary restrictions and guidance for patient visitors in place while in our facility. To ensure we are all doing our part to control the spread of COVID-19, please use the following restrictions and guidance until further notice to help safeguard our patients, visitors, staff, and community.

  • Visiting hours are 7 am – 9 pm. Overnight visitors must be pre-approved by our Nursing Administrators.
  • Only one person may visit per day in hospital locations (including rooms and care units). This visitor can leave and come back but may not be replaced by an alternate visitor.
  • A different well visitor may come the next day.
  • Visitors must be at least 18 years old
  • The visitor must always wear a mask covering their nose and mouth.                                                                       
  • Visitors are expected to bring their own face masks. If they do not have one, a non-procedural face mask will be provided.
  • All approved visitors will be screened for flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and will not be permitted to visit if they have symptoms.
  • All approved visitors must check-in at the front desk and wear a face mask throughout the duration of their visit.
  • All visitors must follow all social distancing and safety guidance. This includes wearing masks, staying six feet from others, and hand washing
  • Approved visitors are to stay with the patient. They are not permitted to be in —the chapel, cafeteria, or vending areas.
  • Family members or friends of patients will not be permitted to enter the facility or to wait in lobbies or common areas, including any/all areas of the hospital—lobbies, waiting areas, common spaces, chapel, cafeteria, or vending areas.
  • If you have a need resulting in you having to leave the care area please let the attending medical professional know. We are more than happy to help you.  

  • There are extended visitor hours for
    • Pediatric patients (children under 18) are allowed 2 parents/guardians any time of day
    • Surgery patients who have an early morning procedure can have 1 visitor with them.
    • Maternity patients are allowed 1 visitor any time of day
    • Emergency Departments patients are allowed 1 visitor any time of day

  • Patients with the following conditions may be allowed more than 1 visitor. This is decided by the treating physician and facility leaders.  
  •  
    • If the patient is at the end of life
    • If a patient has communication barriers
    • If a caregiver needs to help with decision making
  • Special circumstances will be managed by the treating physician and facility leaders.

If you have any questions regarding any visitation guidelines, please feel free to speak with the attending medical professionals in your designated care area or contact us at 828.286.5000.

Frequently Asked Questions for Patients

Is the hospital clean and safe?

Our hospital is clean and safe – just like it always has been! One of the core elements of properly managing infectious diseases is the cleanliness of our physical facility. We partner with a national environmental services vendor to keep our hospital current on the most effective cleaning and disinfection protocols available in healthcare today. We follow all recommended CDC guidance for infection control and protocols for the environment. Each room is allowed proper ventilation, and then cleaned with EPA approved disinfects, ensuring high touch service areas are of primary focus. After discharge, terminal cleaning will be performed by EVS personnel.

Do you have the supplies and capacity to accommodate my procedure?

Our clinical teams will conduct twice daily “go/no-go” meetings in which they will review crucial supplies such as PPE, medications, blood, space and staffing to ensure that we have enough to comfortably care for those undergoing elective/non-urgent procedures AND accommodate our normal emergency care and potential COVID-19 patients.

We are not booking our schedules to full capacity. Out of an abundance of caution and with the conservation of supplies in mind, we are not starting with a full schedule right away. Should things continue to progress positively, we’ll increase our capacity on a week-by-week basis. This is for your safety and ours.

Do you have enough staff to resume elective/non-urgent procedures?

Our team regularly monitors staffing levels to ensure a safe environment for all patients, providers and employees. In addition, we screen all employees daily for COVID-19 symptoms. We are confident that we have the appropriate staff and providers to resume elective and non-urgent procedures while also accommodating our normal emergency care and potential COVID-19 patients.

Will my experience be the same as in the past?

Your experience in our facility may look a little different than in the past, but this is because we have new processes and procedures in place to further protect your health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What should I expect during my procedure?


Upon arrival at the facility, you will be asked the same standard screening questions and you will need to wear a mask or cloth face covering brought from home. 

We are now operating under a limited visitation protocol out of an abundance of caution, please see the policy below. If you have a family members who doesn't meet the limited visitation requirements we will be happy to gather their contact information so we can follow up with them to provide an update after your procedure and share instructions for pick up at the same location.

You may never see another patient while you are here, and that is intentional for now. We are currently trying to minimize overlap in an effort to promote social distancing, conserve resources, and protect the safety of all of our patients and employees.

You are going to be asked COVID-19 screening questions multiple times by multiple people, up until you are admitted for your procedure. You may get tired of these questions, but we assure you they are for your health and safety, and that of our staff.

You may never see the faces of your care team members under their protective equipment. We do regret this, as the personal connections we have with our patients and community are what keep us going. However, this is an important precaution we are taking to protect you and our clinical staff.

What questions will I be asked during the screening?

The questions are part of our standard COVID-19 screening process and include asking if you have any of the following:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Whenever you are asked, please answer these screening questions honestly. If your procedure has to be postponed, it will be just that: postponed. It does NOT mean it will be canceled, and we will work with you to reschedule as soon as possible.

How will I prepare for my procedure?

If you are having a surgical procedure, you will be asked to practice “safer at home” behaviors for seven (7) days to minimize potential exposure prior to your procedure. This means going a step further from social distancing – trying only to leave your home for critical needs such as groceries or going to the pharmacy. If you need to leave for an essential purpose, you must wear a mask. You also will be asked to check your temperature twice a day during this seven-day period and report any result above 100°F to your provider. Finally, you will be tested for COVID-19 prior to your procedure as an additional precaution.

If you are having an imaging procedure, you will be screened and masked, but not tested for COVID-19.

Will I be tested for COVID-19?

If you are having a surgical procedure, you will be tested for COVID-19 prior to your procedure. Your provider will place the order for the test, and the hospital will reach out with instructions for scheduling. If your test happens to be positive, your procedure will be postponed, and you will be given instructions related to your care. If you are having an imaging procedure, you will be screened and masked, but not tested for COVID-19.

Can my family member/spouse/friend/caregiver come with me to the facility?

If you have a family member or caregiver with you, they will be permitted to enter the hospital, if in accordance with our current limited visitation guidelines:

We are currently operating under a limited visitor protocol out of an abundance of caution.Patients will be limited to one WELL visitor per day for patients receiving care in the following areas: surgical, invasive procedures, ER or inpatient stays. All visitors must be 16 years of age or older and will be required to wear a mask or face covering brought from home and visitor sticker while in the facility. Visitors are NOT allowed for high-risk, isolation, immunocompromised or respiratory patients who are under observation or test positive for COVID-19. We will continue to screen everyone who enters our facilities for. Visitors who do not pass the screening at entry will be asked to reschedule their visit until they are symptom-free. Visitors will only be allowed to enter at the designated screening checkpoints located at the ER entrance and Outpatient Entrance.

What happens when I arrive for my procedure?

When you arrive at the facility, you will be asked the same standard screening questions and you will need to wear a mask or face covering brought from home. 

Will I be treated near COVID-19 patients?

We are not performing elective/non-urgent procedures on COVID-19 positive patients at this time.

All patients who test positive for an infectious disease, including COVID-19, are isolated for treatment in accordance with the North Carolina Health and Human Services Department and CDC guidelines. Our hospital has a dedicated isolation unit/wing for treatment of patients under investigation (PUIs) and patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

If I have additional questions about my procedure, who should I contact?

If you have any questions, please call our team at 828.286.5000.  

Helpful Mask Info:

Visitor Restrictions and Screening Guidelines (updated June 1, 2020)

In accordance with guidance from the Rutherford County Health Department, NC Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and with the health and safety of our patients, families, employees and community in mind, Rutherford Regional Health System is now operating on a limited visitor restrictions and new screening guidelines, effective Monday, June 1st as follows:

           

Signage has been posted around the facilities notifying visitors and the community of these new restrictions and guidelines.

As the situation regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, so does our hospital’s response. In addition to measures we’ve taken including restricting visitors, screening employees, closing common areas, and adhering diligently to the Rutherford County Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Rutherford Regional Health System is taking more precautionary steps to help ensure the safety of our patients, employees and visitors. 

Please see the latest CDC testing symptoms guidelines here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

COVID-19 Online Risk Assessment

To help support the health of our community, we are providing access to an online COVID-19 risk assessment developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This tool does NOT provide a diagnosis, and it should NOT be used as a substitute for an assessment made by a healthcare provider.

Begin CDC Online Assessment

Quick Links:


NC Coronavirus Helpline: 1.866.462.3821

Supporting Efforts to Keep Our Community Healthy
By Rebecca Segal, Chief Executive Officer of Rutherford Regional Health System

Our community – along with communities around the world – is navigating unprecedented challenges as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread. The cycle of our lives and neighborhoods has been altered, and we are all working to accommodate an ever-changing new normal. Fear and uncertainty complicate our collective abilities to do this.  

Rutherford Regional Health System is dedicated to helping everyone in our region navigate the COVID-19 environment in which we are all living right now. We have received many questions from our patients, partners and neighbors about how people can assist our efforts to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. 

Here are some important actions everyone can take:

  1. Stay home. In times of trouble, our first instinct is to reach out – to come together and help one another. That’s why so many people are struggling with the best and most crucial advice healthcare experts are giving: stay at home and keep your distance from friends, neighbors, and even family. But we all must listen to and follow this advice. People’s lives depend on it – especially our healthcare workers and those who are over 60 or already live with underlying health conditions.

    We encourage everyone to stay in your own home as much as possible. Only go out if you have to, and choose a time to go to the grocery or pharmacy when it’s not crowded. If you see other people, try to stay at least six feet away from them, and don’t touch them. No handshakes, hug, or kisses. Remember: a lot of people who are carrying this virus won’t show any symptoms. So, the surest way to avoid catching it is to maintain social distance and cancel all gatherings, even small ones.

  1. Follow medical guidance. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, we recommend that you self-monitor for fever or symptoms of respiratory illness for 14 days. If you begin to experience fever or symptoms of respiratory illness, and they are mild enough that you can manage them at home, you should remain at home in isolation.

    Be alert to any changing symptoms and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen. If you feel you need to visit your healthcare provider, call ahead before you arrive to tell them you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. This will allow your provider’s office staff to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 and notify the dispatch agent that your emergency is related to possible COVID-19 symptoms.

  1. Donate medical and protective equipment and supplies. Hospitals across our nation are bracing for shortages of medical and protective equipment and supplies such as disposable masks, gowns, gloves and shoe covers. These are essential in protecting our staff on the front lines of caring for patients. If you have supplies and equipment such as these, please consider donating them to regional hospitals. Those with unused supplies and equipment to donate may contact 828.286.5634 to arrange delivery. 

  1. Donate blood. In addition to potential supply shortages, healthcare providers are preparing for blood shortages. Many communities have had to cancel blood drives due to COVID-19, so blood in many regions is in short supply. Donating blood is a safe process, and you can help out by calling the American Red Cross at 800.733.2767 or visiting redcrossblood.org to find a donation location near you.

Rutherford Regional Health System is grateful for our community’s ongoing support and cooperation as we work to protect local families from the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate all that you do and will continue to provide information on what we know about the virus and how you can help us keep our region healthy.  Visit MyRutherfordRegional.com for more information or call 828.286.5000 with any questions you may have.  

CDC Mask Guidance

CDC Tool

COVID-19 Symptoms & Testing FAQ




 

Testing FAQ

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

At this time, tests for COVID-19 require a provider order. Visiting a provider does not necessarily mean you need testing or that you will receive testing. Your provider will work with the Rutherford County Health Department to follow all appropriate guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North Carolina Health and Human Services Department to determine if testing is recommended based on your symptoms and recent travel history.

What are the qualifications for being tested for COVID-19?

Someone may be a candidate for testing if he or she has:

  1. A fever and cough or shortness of breath AND has been in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case; or
  2. A fever and cough or shortness of breath and a history of travel from affected geographic areas; or
  3. A fever and cough or shortness of breath requiring hospitalization with no other source of infection.

Can I pick up or buy a test kit for COVID-19?

No. At this time, tests for COVID-19 require a provider order and are not commercially available to the public.

What do I do if I’ve been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19? I want to be tested.

If you have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you should self-monitor for fever or symptoms of respiratory illness for 14 days. If you begin to experience fever or symptoms of respiratory illness, and they are mild enough that you can manage them at home, you should remain at home in isolation. For details about how to correctly perform home isolation, tips for managing your illness at home with family members, and guidance on when you can discontinue home isolation, please visit the CDC’s website (link to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html)

If you are not experiencing symptoms, or you are experiencing mild symptoms you can manage at home in isolation, you do not need to seek medical care or testing.

I believe I have symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do next?

I’m experiencing mild symptoms right now, but I’m worried.

If you are experiencing fever and/or mild symptoms of respiratory illness, you can and should isolate at home during illness. For details about how to correctly perform home isolation, tips for managing your illness at home with family members, and guidance on when you can discontinue home isolation, please visit the CDC’s website (link to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html)

Should I get tested? Isolating yourself at home and self-monitoring mild symptoms is the best course of action unless you feel you need medical care.

Worsening symptoms – I need to see my provider.

Be alert to any changing symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if your symptoms are getting worse. If you feel you need to visit your healthcare provider, call ahead before you arrive to tell them you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. This will allow your provider’s office staff to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.

Will I be tested? Your provider will make this determination based on your symptoms, and recent travel history. You may or may not be tested, but your provider will follow all appropriate CDC and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Department guidelines.

Emergent symptoms – I am having difficulty breathing.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 and notify the dispatch agent that your emergency is related to possible COVID-19 symptoms.

Will I be tested? Your emergency medicine provider will make this determination based on your symptoms and recent travel history. You may or may not be tested, but your provider will follow all appropriate CDC and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Department guidelines.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. 

How to use hand sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

For more information, visit the CDC website