Northwest Arkansas healthcare providers issue collective update on COVID-19 measures, testing policies

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,097 views 

Northwest Arkansas’ regional healthcare providers issued a joint news release Wednesday (March 17) following the disclosure of the region’s first COVID-19 (coronavirus) case.

“Our regional healthcare providers and state agencies are working together to ensure the health and safety of our community,” the statement read. It was distributed on behalf of Arkansas Children’s Northwest, Mercy, Northwest Health System, Washington Regional Medical Center, UAMS Northwest and the Veterans HealthCare System of the Ozarks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the ongoing pandemic outbreak of respiratory disease is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China. It has now been detected in more than 150 locations internationally, including in the United States. The U.S. has more than 8,000 cases with 108 deaths. To date, there have been more than 179,000 reported cases of coronavirus and more than 7,400 deaths globally.

The number of cases in Arkansas rose to 37 as of Wednesday night.

In the statement from Northwest Arkansas healthcare providers, testing criteria was strongly emphasized. With the limited number of coronavirus testing kits available in the region, providers are only testing people who meet the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines and criteria as follows:

  • Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath) that has not previously been diagnosed by a healthcare provider as another illness, such as flu or strep, AND at least one of the following:
  • Are age 65 or older OR
  • have a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or immunodeficiency OR
  • Have had contact with someone who has had a positive Coronavirus test OR
  • Are a healthcare worker

“We ask that employers and organizations NOT send people to clinics or healthcare facilities for ‘testing’,” the statement read. “Again, there is a limited number of Coronavirus testing kits available. We are only testing people who meet the above guidelines.

Also included is a list of regional resources with important phone numbers and other contact information.

The full news release is available in a PDF at this link.