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There is a lot of news about the current pandemic. COVID-19, more popularly know as the coronavirus, has made its way throughout the world. Here are some frequently asked questions related to COVID-19.

Pregnancy and COVID-19

To all expecting parents out there, we understand how anxious you are right now as our nation works through the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured, our hospital and clinic teams are in constant communication to ensure our healthy patients remain healthy. You and your newborn baby will be safe and secure in our care.

Are pregnant women more at risk for COVID-19?

Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID-19 infection on pregnancy women.  Right now, there is no evidence that pregnant women are at high risk of severe illness than the general population.

However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that it is possible for pregnant women to be affected by respiratory infections.  It is extremely important that you take precautions to protect yourself against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing to your health care provider.  (Source:  WHO)

Is it safe to go out in public right now?

As restrictions lift more people are venturing out!  Please remember to use good hygiene, wear a mask when appropriate, and keep your distance.  

What is my physician doing to make sure I'm not exposed during check-ups?

Family Medical Specialties and Phelps Medical Group have added an Acute Care Clinic at Phelps Medical Plaza.  This separate location provides distance and separation to increase the safety of all patients and staff.  In order to provide regular scheduled well care visits, both clinics are using their offices for well-based services, and are referring all infectious or potentially infectious patients to the new Acute Care Clinic or a telehealth visit.

What precautions is the hospital taking to ensure my safety and that of my baby?

Phelps Memorial Health Center has taken a number of precautions to ensure your safety. 

*Only authorized visitors are allowed in the hospital. Your birthing coach can be at your side the entire time. They will be screened daily. We ask that they remain in your room and not roam the halls. Meals and beverages will be delivered by our Terrace Café team to your coach upon request. 

*Our employees continue to self-monitor for COVID-19 related symptoms. 

With visitor restrictions, will I be able to bring my delivery coach with me to the hospital?

Absolutely!  Each new mom will be able to have one support person. 

How can I protect me and my baby after delivery?

It’s important that you follow the recommended guidelines from the CDC.  Limit exposure to others.  We know it’s exciting, and people want to see your baby, but it’s not safe for anyone at this time.  Use technology to show off your new bundle.   Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Always cover coughs and sneezes. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. 

All of our patient rooms have windows to the outside. We have added room numbers so friends and family can come visit outside with you and your baby safely behind the glass.

Does COVID-19 affect pregnant women differently than other people?

We do not know if pregnant people have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public, nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result.  Based on available information, pregnant people seem to have the same risks as adults who are not pregnant.  However, we do know that pregnant women have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.

If I have COVID-19, will by newborn have it also?

The World Health Organization is working diligently to answer these questions.  At this time, we still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.  To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.

Will breastfeeding be dangerous for my newborn?

At this time, the virus has not been found in samples of breastmilk. However, we do not know for sure whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus via breast milk. 

If you are sick and choose to direct breastfeed, you should wear a facemask and wash your hands before each feeding.

If you are sick and choose to express breast milk, a dedicated breast pump should be used and properly cleaned after each use.

Phelps Memorial’s lactation counselors will be happy to assist you.

Wash Your Hands

#WashYourHands #InThisTogether #PreventTheSpread

Can I visit PMHC?

Visitor policy beginning 7/20.  

-Two healthy visitors (18 years +) will be allowed for our inpatients.  The patient will designate their visitors upon admission.  Visiting hours are 7a-8p.  

-Visitors will receive a wrist band and will be asked to wear it as long as their loved one remains a patient.  Visitor will also be asked to bring their own mask, and will be screened each day that they visit. 

-The cafeteria remains closed to patients and visitors at this time.  Visitors are asked to remain in the patient room for the duration of their visit.  

-ER patients:  Allowed one visitor during the ER visit.  A wristband is not required for the ER.  

-One support person for 

  • patients undergoing procedures that require sedation
  • oncology patients
  • specialty clinic patients
  • obstetrics patients
  • patients unable to communicate on their own

What to do if you are in close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19?

This information is for people who were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Close contact means being closer than six feet apart for a long time while the person was infectious, which starts two days before any symptoms began (or for people without any symptoms, two days before the day they got tested) and continues until they are recovered. Close contact does not mean being more than six feet away in the same indoor environment for a long time, walking by, or briefly being in the same room.

 

Examples of close contacts

Examples of NOT close contacts

You live in the same home

You were their cashier at the grocery store

You are intimate partners

You are a pharmacist who gave the person medication

You rode in the same car while the person was infectious

You were in front of the person in line at the store

 

Stay at home and watch for symptoms for 14 days:

  • Day 0 is the day you were last in contact with the person.
  • Watch for symptoms, even if mild, of cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • Don’t leave home, except to get medical care. Wear a cloth mask if you need to leave home.
  • Call ahead before visiting a health care provider or emergency department.
  • If possible, stay in a specific room in your home and use a separate bathroom.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others in your home at all times. Wear a cloth mask if you’re in any room with other people, unless you have trouble breathing. Don’t share household items.
  • Stay connected with others – use technology to communicate with friends and family.

Daily cleaning and washing:

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home. If you are staying in a separate room and using a separate bathroom, clean them yourself. Have someone else clean the other areas of the home.
  • Thoroughly wash household items, like utensils, after using.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

 

What are the symptoms?

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This is not a list of all possible symptoms.  Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately.  Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This is not all inclusive.  Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning. 

Source:  cdc.gov

What should I do if I'm experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are experiencing symptoms, it's best to call ahead and discuss this with your local health care provider.  We can then further advise if you're safe to monitor at home or if you should be seen in the clinic, the ER, or by virtual appointment.  

Symptoms you should be monitoring for are fever, cough, shortness of breath, and/or sore throat. A fever is defined at 100.4 degrees. Particularly if you’re working in the health care industry, we want to know if you have a temp of 100.0 or higher. Please check your temperature if you think you may have been exposed to COVID or are experiencing symptoms.

There has been some concern regarding the use of ibuprofen to treat symptoms of the coronavirus.  If you have questions, please consult your medical provider.  

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. 

This virus does not spread easily in other ways

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads.  It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads.  

  • From touching surfaces or objects.  It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or possible your eyes.  This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about it.  
  • From animals to people. 
  • From people to animals.  The CDC is aware of a small number of pets worldwide, include cats and dogs, reported to be infected, mostly after close contact with people, but it is not a primary concern.  

Source:  cdc.gov

I am experiencing other health related issues, should I wait to see my doctor?

As always, if you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to call your physician for guidance. We want to continue treating patient’s chronic health conditions and other issues that may arise. Even though Coronavirus is at the forefront right now, people are still going to get sick from other causes and still need their health maintenance visits, at least to a certain extent. 

How can I protect myself from the coronavirus?

Know How It Spreads

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

Take Steps To Protect Yourself

Clean your hands often!

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, us a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 19

Maintain physical distance

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.  This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

Source:  cdc.gov

What is the incubation period?

The incubation period means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease.  Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.  As more information becomes available, these estimates may change.

Source:  World Health Organization (who.int)

Does washing my hands really work?

Handwashing is the single most important piece of advice to help us stay safe from COVID-19 according to WebMD.com. 

Handwashing with soap and water is a far more powerful weapon against germs than many of us realize. 

Coronaviruses are encased in a lipid envelope, basically a layer of fat.  Soap can break that fat apart and make the virus unable to infect you. 

Soap also makes skin so that with enough rubbing, we can pry germs off and rinse them away. 

Wash Your Hands Properly

  • Turn on the water.  It doesn't matter if it's hot or cold.
  • Lather up.
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds, paying attention to the backs of your hands, the lower palm, fingernails and nail beds. 
  • Dry your hands.
  • Use a clean paper towel to open the bathroom door.

Wash Often

  • Before, during and after food prep.
  • Before eating.
  • Before and after tending to someone who is sick.
  • Before and after treating a cut or other wound.
  • After going to the bathroom.
  • After changing diapers or helping a child in the bathroom.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • After touching an animal, or touching pet food or waste.

Source:  WebMD.com

  • After touching garbage. 

 

Am I at risk if I've recently traveled?

Cases of coronavirus have been reported in all states and many countries.  

If you must travel, consider the following risks you might face:

  • Air travel:  Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights.  However, there may be a risk of getting COVID-19 on crowded flights if there are other travelers on board with COVID-19
  • Bus or train:  Sitting or standing within 6 feet of others for a prolonged period of time can put you at risk of getting or spreading this virus
  • Car:  The stops you need to make along the way could put you and others in the car with you in close contact with others who could be infected
  • RV travel:  Traveling by RV means you may have to stop less often for food or bathrooms, but RV travelers typically have to stop at RN parks overnight and other public places to get gas and supplies

Anticipate you needs before you go:

  • Prepare food and water for the road.  
  • Pack a sufficient amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Book accommodations in advance if you must stay somewhere overnight
  • Don't travel if you are sick or plan to travel with someone who is sick

 

Face Masks

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. 

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.  

Cloth face coverings should not be used on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to removed the mask without assistance.  

The cloth face coverings recommended are NOT surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

Cloth face coverings should be washed after you have been around others.  A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering

Making a face mask

Please see the attached guidelines from the CDC for making a face mask. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html 

Source: cdc.gov

Who is most at risk for getting COVID-19?

Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are: 

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including: 

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised (cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiences, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of immune weakening medications)
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

Source:  cdc.gov

What are the most reliable sources for COVID-19 information?

There is a lot of misinformation out there. It is always best practice to do your own research with reputable sources. We check daily, sometimes more often, for updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organizations (WHO) and Two Rivers Public Health Department.

CDC - www.cdc.gov

WHO - www.who.int

Two Rivers Public Health - www.trphd.org

Test Nebraska - www.testnebraska.com

Will Phelps Memorial admit COVID-19 patients to the hospital?

Our team is prepared for an influx of patients in need of hospitalization with symptoms related to COVID-19. We are in constant communication with our medical staff and facilities around the state to ensure the highest quality care imaginable depending on the patient's stability. 

We have:

  • expanded our normal capacity from 25 to 47 beds;
  • three negative pressure rooms;
  • capability to put up to 6 patients on a ventilator and are working diligently to accommodate more; and,
  • streamlined our process for personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure our employees and patients are as protected as possible to minimize exposure.