Southern Illinois hospitals prepare for COVID-19 patients

Southern Illinois hospitals prepare for COVID-19 patients

Southern Illinois hospitals are working to keep patients and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also preparing to care for those with symptoms of the virus.

All Southern Illinois hospitals are restricting visitors. Visitors are undergoing a temperature check and verbal screening for the virus before being allowed into a hospital. Two visitors are allowed per patient and visitors must be 18 or older.

Procedures are also in place for those with symptoms of COVID-19 or influenza.

Randall Dauby, administrator of Pinckneyville Community Hospital, is asking anyone who has flu-like symptoms to make a call before heading to the doctor or hospital.

“If you have symptoms, don’t rush to the hospital,” Dauby said. “Anyone who has potential flu systems should make a call to your provider.”

Those with symptoms can expect to undergo a test for influenza first. Dauby said we are still in the middle of a very active flu season, and health care providers are still seeing a lot of flu cases. If those tests are negative, the patient will undergo further screening to see if they need to be tested for COVID-19.

Everyone who comes into the hospital for any reason is being screened for symptoms and having their temperature taken. Dauby said that includes all employees, contractors, people visiting the clinics or hospitals for appointments or procedures, and visitors.

The hospital is also canceling elective procedures and tests that are safe to postpone, as well as all events.

The new fitness center at the hospital was set to open later this month, but that grand opening will be rescheduled. Dauby said therapy departments will move the last week of March and open for business in the new location on March 30. The fitness center will be closed until further notice.

“Our goal is to keep the community healthy. ‘Leading the way to a healthier tomorrow' is our motto — that’s what we do,” Dauby said.

At Marshall Browning Hospital in Du Quoin, Laurie Kellerman, chief clinical officer, Pam Logan, director of marketing/patient relations, and Dan Eaves, CEO, are recommending those who have flu-like symptoms call their primary health care provider for instructions and are encouraging providers to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health hotline.

Patients who are not extremely ill are being asked to stay home and self-isolate.

The hospital also is screening everyone who comes in.

“We’re basically following the CDC and IDPH guidelines and trying to roll with the flow,” Kellerman said.

Logan said the hospital’s Facebook page will contain information and education about COVID-19.

Franklin Hospital in Benton has set up a hotline to screen people with symptoms of COVID-19.

A press release from the hospital reads: “If you are experiencing the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath and suspect you have been exposed, you can call Franklin Hospital at 618-435-9700 and we will have a physician contact you to determine if you should quarantine in place or seek additional medical care.”

The hospital also has instituted the following precautions: The cafeteria is restricted to employees only. Visitors are being screened at all entrances and in all hospital clinics.

Union County Hospital in Anna is restricting and screening visitors. Those with symptoms are being asked to call their health care provider.

Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado and its affiliated clinics have implemented patient screening protocols prior to entering the facility and/or clinics. At Ferrell Hospital and Ferrell Hospital Family Practice, patients should go to the main entrance on Benton Street if arriving between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those visiting outside those hours should go to the Emergency entrance.

Patients with a medical emergency should go to the Emergency Department entrance.

Patients will be screened for fever greater than 100.4 degrees, symptoms of cough or shortness of breath, recent areas of travel, and exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Once cleared, patients may enter the facility. If patients exhibit symptoms, have a fever or meet travel criteria, they will be moved to a treatment tent located outside of the Emergency Department. Patients will then be examined by a provider and tested for flu, strep throat or RSV as appropriate.

Per Illinois Department of Public Health Guidelines, patients will only be tested for COVID-19 if they are in respiratory distress and meet hospitalization criteria.

SSM Health, which operates Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon and St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia, has opened its first COVID-19 testing sites. To be tested, patients must first complete a free online evaluation at If they meet the criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they will then be sent to an area testing facility where clinicians can collect specimens to be sent to a lab.

Collection sites are available in both Mount Vernon and Centralia. Testing will only be done on patients who have been referred by an SSM Health Virtual Visit or an SSM Health physician.

Southern Illinois Healthcare has similar hospital visitation policies in place, as previously reported by The Southern. SIH is offering drive-up testing, but an electronic doctor's order is required and can only be issued following a call to SIH's COVID-19 hotline at 844-988-7800.