Columbiana County hospitals prepare for potential COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus

East Liverpool City Hospital and Salem Regional Medical Center is hoping to get more testing kits, gloves and masks from the state

LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – Officials with the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency and the county’s two hospitals met Monday afternoon to talk about how they’re preparing for the possibility of a severe outbreak of COVID-19.

“At this time in Columbiana County, I am pleased to announce we do not have a COVID-19 case,” said Wesley Vins, the county health commissioner.

Watch entire press conference

Earlier Monday, Governor Mike Dewine announced Ohio now has 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

While people are still getting tested, hospitals are preparing.

“We have created, just today, a designed testing site within the hospital that has its own entryway and exitway,” said Dr. Gretchen Nickell, chief medical officer at East Liverpool Hospital.

By Wednesday, Salem Regional Medical Center will take similar actions for anyone who has symptoms.

“Then a provider will see you and make that determination, based on the screening and symptoms, in terms of whether or not you’re eligible for the testing,” said Debbie Pierzak, vice president of Salem Regional Medical Center.

They’re asking that only people with severe symptoms get tested.

“Our biggest concern is the test kit,” Nickell said. “We do not have enough of these to provide service for very long. This is the one area that we are in need of to continue this service.”

If they don’t get any more kits, East Liverpool Hospital could run out in six days.

The county is also worried about its supply of personal protective equipment, such as surgical gloves and masks for healthcare workers, first responders, police, fire and EMS.

Rep. Tim Ginter said they were able to get ahold of the Ohio Department of Health Sunday.

“They are in the process of making sure those supplies get to Columbiana County.”

Ginter also pointed out the state is working on unemployment. In Ohio, for anyone wishing to receive unemployment, there’s a one-week waiting period.

“We are waiving the waiting week so that workers eligible for unemployment benefits will receive them for the week of unemployment,” Ginter said.

This only goes for people infected with the virus.

Both East Liverpool City Hospital and Salem Regional Medical Center have decided to postpone all elective surgeries until further notice.

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