BRMC discusses covid death counts, quarantine time, proper masks and more

In its weekly radio interview with KTLO Sept. 9, staff members with Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas, shared information concerning covid-related updates. 


BRMC stats

BRMC director of marketing Tobias Pugsley said  the hospital had performed 4,974 covid tests within the hospital’s system, and 125 of those tests had returned a positive result.

Pugsley said 25 patients had been admitted to BRMC for covid-related complications, and six of those patients were currently in the intensive care unit at the time of the broadcast. One patient was on a ventilator. 

Seventeen BRMC employees had tested positive, with six of those patients currently active with covid and in isolation. 

Staff members said the hospital has 17 ventilators and several anesthesia machines that can be used as ventilators if needed. 


What qualifies as a covid death?

Five BRMC patients have died with active covid infection. 

Prompted by a KTLO listener’s question about what qualifies as a “covid death,” BRMC infection preventionist Stephanie Free said any patient who dies and tests positive for an active infection is included in the covid death count.

“Basically anybody who has an active covid infection, regardless of their co-morbidities… and of course, individuals that we’re seeing coming into the hospital, most of them have co-morbidities or other conditions such as congestive heart failure, COPD, but they also have active covid infection. If those individuals die, then yes, that is going to get reported as a covid death, as long as that is what was reflected on the death certificate,” Free said. “I also want to add that this is the same for flu deaths as well. Any individual who comes in with flu, even though they have other conditions, it is going to be reported as a flu death. So it is no different than how they’ve reported those as well.”


Quarantine for 10 or 14 days?

Free also tried to clear up confusion surrounding quarantine procedures and varying timelines for quarantine. 

“When a person gets exposed, that is when they start their 14-day quarantine. However, if they start to develop symptoms, and they test positive, or if they have a positive result without symptoms, then they start what’s called the isolation period, and that 14-day quarantine window kind of goes out the window, and then they begin their isolation,” Free said. 

“Now, too, the Arkansas Department of Health is saying not to do a test-based strategy to get them outside of that isolation period because what can happen is what we’re seeing now, that these individuals will actually test positive for potentially a couple of months,” she said.

The test results continue to be positive for an extended time due to an extra-sensitive test the hospital uses, Free said. 

“Our PCR test is so sensitive that it will actually continue to pick up the dead virus even though they are no longer contagious. And so the recommendation is to follow what’s called a symptom-based strategy,” he said. “So once you test positive and you have a mild illness or no symptoms at all, you are to stay in isolation for 10 days from either onset of symptoms or from that positive test.”

Free said patients can come out of isolation after the 10 days if they’ve had an improvement in their symptoms and have been fever-free for 24 hours. 

“The other caveat…is that if you have a severe illness or if you are immune-compromised, then that isolation period is extended out to 20 days. So you’re to stay in isolation for 20 days, with improvement in symptoms and fever free for 24 hours.”


Bandanas, neck gators and valve masks

BRMC chief nursing officer Shannon Nachtigal gave an update on how the hospital has changed its policy on face coverings.

“We are strictly following the guidelines from the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC, and they are both saying that masks with valves are not allowed. The reason for that is that air can actually escape from the valve, and it does not help enforce control and so if the person who is wearing the mask is actually infected, they could potentially pass the covid virus on to others,” Nachtigal said. 

“The newest is also that bandanas and those single-layer neck gators may not provide sufficient protection, so they are recommending that if you do wear those, that you at least double them to provide two layers of protection,” Nachtigal said.

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