Two large Columbus hospitals exercising caution when releasing COVID-19 information

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – St. Francis-Emory Healthcare has confirmed they are treating patients that have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We can confirm that we have identified and are treating patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” according to a hospital statement Wednesday afternoon.

The hospital is not releasing the number of patients who have tested positive for the virus and are under treatment, spokesperson Becky Young said.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced Thursday, March 19. St. Francis confirmed at the time that they were treating that person in isolation.

Today’s statement is the first time the hospital has confirmed it was treating more than one case of COVID-19.

The hospital says it remains committed to protecting the health and safety of the community and are continuing to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health awhile following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue ensuring the safety of patients, clinical teams caring for the patients, and all people in their facility.

St. Francis has implemented a zero-visitor protocol and limited entrances to the hospital, per CDC guidelines. More information on St. Francis’s COVID-19 preparedness can be found online.

The hospital says they are prepared for detecting, protecting residents, and responding to the coronavirus, with plans ready for several weeks, building upon the “robust emergency operations plan” that is in place year-round.

Piedmont Columbus Regional released the following statement on their own coronavirus numbers and testing:

We understand the interest in the number of COVID-19 cases that our system is handling. The number of patients we are treating who are under investigation, confirmed and discharged is constantly changing. For this reason, we believe it remains in the best interest to allow the Georgia Department of Public Health to be the sole provider of this information.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia, Piedmont’s hospitals have had patients pass away as a result of COVID-19. Having said that, Piedmont Healthcare’s longstanding policy is not to provide updates on the status of patients. Moving forward, out of respect for the families involved and in line with our interpretation of the federal health privacy law HIPAA, Piedmont will not confirm the deaths of any patients that result from COVID-19, just as it would not do so for any other cause of death.

Piedmont Columbus Regional official statement regarding coronavirus

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