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What you need to know: Hardin Medical Center, Lifespan coronavirus protocols

A new “portable screening building” stands at the entrance to the Hardin Medical Center emergency room.

The coronavirus sweeping the globe causes an illness called COVID-19, presenting a serious threat to public health.
The first confirmed case in Hardin County was reported by the Tennessee Department of Health on Friday afternoon.
As the county’s two largest medical providers, Hardin Medical Center and Lifespan are preparing for this threat extensively, to reassure area residents they are ready to treat patients and meet their needs, whether they be “normal” medical conditions, emergency care or exposure to COVID-19.
HMC has erected a portable screening building, or PSB, just outside its emergency department. Lifespan has segregated its facilities and medical providers, with some dedicated to providing regular medical visits, and some to screen and test for patients who may have COVID-19.
Inside the newly-erected portable screening building at the hospital, workers have been busy constructing eight exam rooms, and installing electricity for medical equipment, including an X-ray machine. The climate control system includes a means to provide “negative pressure,” to draw air from inside the PSB to outside through an exhaust fan on the roof.
Both HMC and Lifespan report enacting extensive protocols for the treatment of all patients, which, to protect both patients and staff, are quite different than usual. The need to protect staff as well as patients is urgent because if a staff member is exposed, they must be quarantined – which halts their ability to care for sick patients who may need them.
Hardin Medical Center
Nick Lewis, CEO of HMC, urges all who are feeling ill and needing medical attention to first call their primary care physician or provider. If it’s an absolute emergency, call 911.
If after hours and it is not an emergency, those who are ill should contact a local walk-in clinic such as HMC Urgent Care or Fast Pace. Call first to tell them your symptoms. This allows staff to prepare a treatment room for your arrival.
HMC Urgent Care asks that when you arrive at the facility’s parking lot, telephone to inform staff that you’re there. Lewis said to stay in the vehicle and an Urgent Care staff member will provide instructions for entering the building.
Lewis warned that entering any medical facility prior to calling could result in unnecessarily exposing others to COVID-19 if you have it.
HMC Urgent Care can be reached at 731-926-9600.
If you feel you must self-transport to the hospital, Lewis asks that if able, call the hospital first at 731-926-8000 to let them know you are coming and your symptoms. This lets HMC prepare staff and gather supplies for your arrival.
Those who do arrive at the HMC emergency room as a walk-in or by ambulance will see changes in procedures because of COVID-19.
First, for those who call 911, all EMS responding to emergencies have been instructed to wear protective gear, and treat the patient as if COVID-19 positive, regardless of the reason for the call. This will include a face mask and eye protection, among other possible gear. Don’t be alarmed by this necessary precaution to protect both you and medical workers.
When transported by ambulance, Lewis said all patients will also be required to wear a face mask. Even though taking precautions, EMS staff will not withhold any treatment necessary for sustaining your life – that is a directive straight from the HMC COVID-19 policy guide.
When you arrive at the hospital, emergency room staff will take over your care, and the EMS crew will sanitize all ambulances with a hospital-grade disinfectant after each transport. Throughout the transfer, it is important that you do not remove your mask, even to cough or sneeze.
For walk-ins to the emergency room, you are asked to park in the lot in front of the ER, and if able, call 731-926-8000 to notify the hospital you are there.
You will be met at the door and instructed by hospital medical staff on what to do. You will be asked to wear a mask, and when the portable screening building is completed and operational, you will be initially screened by a nurse in the portable screening building.
It will be determined there whether to bring you into the ER. You may be tested in the PSB and if you are not experiencing severe symptoms, asked to return home and given further instructions.
It is important to note medical experts estimate that about 80% who contract COVID-19 will recover at home with no serious issues or complications. A small percentage of COVID-19 patients, especially among the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions, may suffer serious complications and need more extensive medical care. A smaller number of the most serious cases may end in death. You will likely be discharged home for self-isolation if you are not experiencing severe symptoms.
While in the emergency room or portable screening room, hospital staff will also be wearing personal protective gear, and patients with symptoms of COVID-19 will be evaluated in a “negative pressure room.”
A physician will decide whether to admit, transfer or discharge any patient home. Those with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested, and patients will be informed of results in no more than four days.
If discharged home, the patient will be provided instructions and should remain home without visitors. Those with COVID-19 symptoms will also be asked to provide a list of individuals they were in contact with or locations they visited for the 2 days prior.
Regardless whether admitted to HMC for further treatment, transferred to a different facility, or discharged home, Lewis asks all patients to closely follow the instructions of medical staff at every step, for each patient’s protection as well as the safety of medical staff.
Lifespan Community Health Center
Lifespan CEO Janie McGinley says those without a primary care physician can call Lifespan to receive medical care, at their main number at 731-925-2300. As a non-profit community health center, Lifespan turns away no one; for the uninsured they work with the patient and charge a sliding fee based on income. For those with insurance, they accept that as well.
Patients with an established medical history and doctor at Lifespan can call the main number even after hours to speak with a medical provider regarding medical issues. If it is an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
She said all patients who call Lifespan will be asked about any respiratory symptoms, fever, or possible exposure to COVID-19. If patients need to be seen due to moderate or severe symptoms, they will be directed to the Lifespan Savannah Medical Center at 255 Wayne Road.
Pediatric patients will be directed to Lifespan Kids Clinic at 150 East End Drive in Savannah. The Kids Clinic will have separate ‘sick’ and ‘well’ entrances.
Lifespan’s remote clinics in Selmer and Clifton will remain open to both adult and pediatric patients, however patients will be screened and taken care of by telephone if possible.
Lifespan’s Adamsville and Florence Road clinics and Women & Children’s site on Davis Street in Savannah will be designated for patients without flu-like symptoms. These clinics have a designated triage nurse at the entrance to screen all patients for respiratory illnesses, fever, or possible exposure to COVID-19.
Patients who have respiratory symptoms will receive a mask and be sent to the Lifespan Savannah or Kids locations. The Savannah location will be seeing only respiratory illnesses. Any patients presenting to clinics without respiratory symptoms will be seen as scheduled by providers.
Again, anyone experience severe illness or symptoms or any emergency medical event should call 911.
For more information from the Centers for Disease Control visit
For more Tennessee-specific information visit
For more information from Lifespan visit

1 Comment

  1. Alice Scroggins on March 22, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for the information.

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