Our staff throughout the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) system continuously plan and train to deal with the unexpected at a moment’s notice and have the capability to respond and care for any patient needs.
On a daily basis at our ARH hospitals and clinics, staff care for patients with many different types of viruses, including the various common human types of the Coronavirus. Much like the influenza virus, there are several different strains of the Coronavirus. The 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China, and has now spread to much of China and many other countries, including the United States. To date, there have been no cases of the Coronavirus COVID-19 reported at any ARH facility in Kentucky or West Virginia.
ARH is taking proactive steps to prepare for this potential emerging public health threat. We continue to follow the well-established protocols and recommendations established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when dealing with such situations in our facilities to be prepared to care for our patients and do that in a way that keeps our healthcare workers and other patients safe.
ARH has assembled a cross-functional team to monitor and address concerns and updates related to the virus, and has plans in place to minimize the level of risk to control widespread exposure and protect our patients, staff and communities.
As part of these efforts, ARH has developed an internal information sharing site to keep employees updated, and has implemented a restriction on employee business travel between ARH locations, as well as out of the area to help reduce the risk of exposure. We have also temporarily revised our sick policy to encourage employees to remain home when they are ill and will not require a doctor’s excuse to do so. Within our hospitals, we’re making sure supplies are stocked and all of our infection control processes are firmly in place in preparation for the potential spread of this virus within our communities.
Below is more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the different types of Coronavirus.
Human Coronavirus Types
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses, known as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. The seven coronaviruses that can infect people are:
Common human coronaviruses
- 229E (alpha coronavirus)
- NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
- OC43 (beta coronavirus)
- HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
Other human coronaviruses
- MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
- SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
- SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19)
People around the world commonly get infected with human coronaviruses 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1.
Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick and become a new human coronavirus. Three recent examples of this are 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.
According to the CDC, there are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Joseph L. Grossman,
President & CEO, Appalachian Regional Healthcare