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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Meeting Held for Polk County Providers and Local Leaders

Dr. Joseph Aldrich, Mena Regional Health System Chief of Staff, called a special meeting for all Polk County providers and local city officials to collaborate community-wide measures that have been implemented to safeguard our residents and minimize the possible impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In addition to health care administrators and providers, those in attendance included: Seth Smith, Mayor; John Maddox, State Representative; Melinda Wise, Elite Home Health; Robby Hines, Southwest EMS; Brandon Ellison, Polk County Judge; Doreen Tapley and Phyllis Cunningham, Healthy Connections, Inc.; and Dr. David Brown, Rich Mountain Nursing and Rehab.

“We were very pleased with the level of participation at the meeting and the extensive preparations communicated among our medical community and local officials. Advantageous protocols were shared as attendees coordinated a specific plan for our city and county. Mena Regional Health System pleads with individuals who believe they have contracted COVID-19 or are experiencing shortness of breath, fever greater than 100°, and/or cough to refrain from presenting to the Emergency Room for the protection of our current patients and their families. In the city of Mena, the three screening locations for COVID-19 include Mena Medical Associates and the Walk-In Care Center, 1103 College Drive; First Care Family Health and Walk-In, 1706 N. U.S. 71 and Healthy Connections, 136 Health Park Lane. The hours of operation at Mena Medical Associates, 1103 College Drive, have been extended to 8:00 a.m. to midnight until further notice. We request the use of the extended hours, 5:30 pm to midnight, be reserved for those who are experiencing respiratory illness and/or other symptoms relating to COVID-19.” – Jay Quebedeaux, CEO.

Healthy Connections reported that all clinic entrance doors will be locked and pre-screenings in place before patients are allowed to enter. Patients who qualify for COVID-19 screening will be escorted to an isolated, covered tent area for testing. Schedulers are now phone screening for all patients who need to schedule appointments. Patients with scheduled wellness exams, follow-ups or dental appointments are being advised not to come to the clinic for those needs at this time. Due to a limited number of supplies, drive-through screenings are not yet available.

First Care Family Health and Walk-In offers drive-through screening following a pre-screening protocol. If you present to their facility, a buzzer has been installed at both entrance locations. Clinic staff will don in proactive gear and provide masks for patients before screening. A pre-screening for fever and symptoms will be implemented before allowing a patient to enter the building.

Elite Home Health is now pre-screening all employees and patients daily while following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to care for patients in their home. Due to the high demand and shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), they are providing patients with needs as supplies become available.

Robby Hines, Southwest EMS encourages individuals to stay at home during the next few weeks and limit out of town travel during this period of uncertainty to lessen the possibility of spreading the virus to our area. There is no need for individuals to call 911 if they feel they have contracted COVID-19, however, If emergency medical service (911) is called due to a related medical emergency, screening will be done on the front end.

“I appreciate the candid information that was shared in the special called meeting. It is apparent that every organization that was represented has similar obstacles. We all need scarce personal protective equipment and are just competing with each other as it becomes available. Knowing each other’s plan will make all of us more effective as we assist each other. There is no doubt that we will have to be innovative and unorthodox at times as we deal with this coming crisis.” – Brandon Ellison, Polk County Judge

Mayor Seth Smith responded, “I have great confidence in our local medical community. They are all taking necessary steps to provide the best care possible in this evolving situation. I’m grateful for the cooperative effort, sharing information and contingently working to protect and care for the citizens. I strongly discourage any non-essential out of town travel. I urge citizens to adhere to all warnings publicized by MRHS, ADH and CDC to lessen the exposure and/or spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in this meeting with our healthcare workers and providers. They are the front line of defense and I am very impressed with their preparedness and attention to detail. I will let them know that I will be glad to contact the Arkansas Department of Health or any other state agency that I can on their behalf. I will also provide any other services that they request. This is a very trying time and I would advise everyone to adhere to the guidelines and recommendations being made by the Governor and his team. We will get through this and we when we do we will come out of this even stronger that we are now.” – John Maddox, State Representative.

“It was truly wonderful to see our medical community and leaders come together to serve the needs of Polk County. We will continue to communicate updates with our citizens during the rapid involvement of the coronavirus COVID-19 regarding the safety and protection of this area. Thank you those who have been diligent in following the recommended guidelines in an effort to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community.” – Jay Quebedeaux, MRHS CEO.

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