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Fauquier Health spokeswoman Sarah Cubbage reported Monday morning that the health system is rescheduling elective and non-urgent surgical cases and all non-urgent outpatient services, “when deemed clinically appropriate, for the next four weeks,” or through April 23.

The effort is an attempt in part to preserve the hospital’s supply of personal protective equipment, she explained. Cubbage said the hospital expects to receive a shipment of PPE from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association this week.

She said in a press release, “We have been working closely with the Virginia Health Department and VHHA and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An important element to our preparedness is minimizing the risk of exposure in any way we can, as we navigate this rapidly evolving situation and prepare for what the next few weeks may hold.”

She added that the health system “continues to adapt to meet the clinical needs of our communities during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic …”

Patients whose appointments are being rescheduled will be notified, and procedures will be rescheduled as soon as feasible. Cubbage said, “We are confident that this important operational decision will help minimize the spread of illness by limiting unnecessary contact between patients and providers.”

Cubbage also reported Monday that so far, there has been no uptick in patients presenting to the Emergency Department with flu-like symptoms and ER visits are down.

If the 97-bed acute-care hospital experiences a surge in patients, it has capacity on all patient floors, including the fourth floor, which has 11 overflow rooms that are not always in use, said Cubbage. Fauquier Hospital has 10 intensive care unit beds.

Fauquier Health’s emergency command center was activated on March 16, so leaders can quickly respond to emerging issues, Cubbage confirmed.

She said in the release, “We want to assure our community that it is safe to come to our hospital should you or a family member need care. Our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to safely respond to viruses and infectious diseases, including COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and support as we continue to do everything we can to prepare for the potential impact of COVID-19 on our community.”

Those with symptoms

Cubbage urged that anyone who is experiencing respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and plans to visit the hospital, a primary care provider or an urgent clinic should call ahead to let them know that they are experiencing symptoms that may possibly be related to COVID-19. “This will allow providers to properly prepare for the visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed,” she said.

Anyone who is having a medical emergency should call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room. If possible, notify the dispatch agent that your emergency involves symptoms possibly related to COVID-19, Cubbage recommended.

Reach Robin Earl at rearl@fauquier.com

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