Jackson County, along with the rest of West Virginia and the nation, is in a battle. This battle is not with an opposing army, not with enemies that can be seen. It is a battle with a vicious disease known as COVID-19 or coronavirus.
It is clear that there are fierce warriors in this county working tirelessly to keep the citizens as safe as possible.
Dr. Steven Eshenaur, medical director of the emergency department at West Virginia University Medicine Jackson General Hospital, says the fight is real.
“This is a highly infectious disease,” he said. “It’s very easily spread person to person. It is in our community right now. But we are fighting for that community.”
Jackson General is ready to deal with whatever comes said Eshenaur who is also the director of the three Morad-Hughes Clinics at Walmart, Fruth Pharmacy, and Jackson General.
“We are trained for this,” he said. “We have reinforced our training though. And there are masks and gloves for all. We have restricted visitors to the hospital and are taking every known precaution.”
Asked if there were enough supplies, the doctor said simply, “Who knows what enough is? We really don’t know what that means at this point.”
Jackson General does have several ventilators, according to Eshenaur, and there is a plan in place if an infected patient cannot be transferred to another hospital.
“We do have the ability to isolate,” the physician explained. “We have always had that capability.”
Eshenaur credits the county-wide team for the level of preparedness he is confident is in place.
“We have an excellent health department who is coordinating everything and who actually tracks the cases in the county,” he said. “Including Coplin Health System, our 911 and emergency service teams, home health services, and the board of education, we couldn’t have a better working relationship.”
Stephanie McCoy, CEO of Jackson General Hospital, has nothing but praise for the staff and the community.
“I am proud of the JGH team for their compassion and caring during this very stressful time of changing conditions. Our physicians and employees have been working hard to prepare for a possible influx of patients,” she said. “Many are cross training to help wherever and whenever necessary. The unity and innovation of our first responders and health partners is invaluable.”
Community support has been extremely important as well McCoy said.
“I am beyond impressed by the dedication and support of individuals, small businesses, and large corporations for their acts of generosity and kindness,” she stated. “Everyone can do their part by adhering to the recommendations to stay home and practice social distancing.”
Eshenaur stresses the importance of those recommendations
“I wish I could repeat it enough times to get people to really listen and do what is needed,” he said. “All of us in the health field have the same message. Social isolation at home if you have symptoms, social distancing in public, and wash your hands with soap and water frequently. If you don’t get the disease, we don’t have to treat it. It’s that simple.”
What is not simple is the toll this fight takes on those working in health care.
One nurse at the hospital described what she, and many others, deal with on a personal level.
“When I go home, I can’t hug and kiss my eight-year old son,” she said. “He doesn’t understand. He’s used to snuggling and being loved on. He just cries which breaks my heart. My oldest son is staying with his grandma. It’s just so hard.”
Eshenaur promises that there will be communication with the public. He stresses the importance of sharing facts.
“We believe in open communication,” he said. “We are in daily contact with the health department and other health agencies. We just ask that people don’t share false information on platforms like Facebook. Go to sources that can be trusted.”
As a retired physician with the National Guard, Eshenour has had four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’ve seen a lot of tough situations in my career,” he said. “But we’ll stay focused on the job at hand. We’ll remain calm. And we will get through this together.”
For information about COVID-19, go to wvumedicine.org/covid.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT COVID-19
Criteria for COVID-19 testing
• Respiratory issues (extreme trouble breathing)
• Contact with someone infected
If criteria is met, current option for nearest drive-through testing
• Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg with a physician’s order
• For information, visit wvumedicine.org/camden-clark/covid-testing-site
• WVU Medicine COVID-19 triage: 1-304-598-6000
• Isolate at home for 14 days – stay in a separate room and have no contact
Off-site options for medical help/assistance at wvu medicine jackson general
• Video urgent care via smart phone or computer
• Call 304-373-1514 to schedule
• Hours: Monday-Saturday 8 am--8 pm; Sunday 11 am—6 pm
What to avoid
• Gatherings of more than 10
• Getting closer than 6 feet – a cough/sneeze can transmit the disease if someone has it
• Any location not essential (i.e. grocery store, pharmacy, gas station, essential workplace)
What to do in general and after going out
• Wash hands with soap and water frequently for 20 seconds
• Avoid touching hands, eyes, mouth
• Sanitize frequently touched items – door handles, light switches, remote controls
• Sanitize cell phone frequently
What the community can do
• Stay home unless necessary
• If going out, stay 6 feet away from each other
Supplies needed community provide
• Masks made of 100 percent cotton
• Hospital gowns made of cotton