For the News Tribune

KEYSER – The threat of COVID-19 has proven to be one of the most challenging threats to all of us, affecting each of us in different ways. Since March 2020, the way we approach healthcare all over the United States has changed, demanding hospitals to adapt in unexpected ways, all while striving to keep their communities healthy.

“As Potomac Valley Hospital went into this crisis, it was reassuring to be a part of WVU Medicine,” says president and CEO Mark Boucot. “At this time, more than ever, WVU rallied behind all of its hospitals to assure we had the support we needed to serve our communities.

“Along with assisting in disaster mitigation efforts, the leaders of WVU Medicine provided evidence based approaches to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrated the highest caliber of leadership.”

With the guidance of WVU Medicine, Potomac Valley Hospital has implemented enhanced safety procedures, for patients and staff. Patients needing to utilize services from any facet of the hospital, such as emergency services, surgical services, or even outlying facilities, will notice these heightened safety precautions and procedures. The hospital is providing a safe environment for the community to be able to continue to receive healthcare services.

Following state recommendations, all staff members are required to wear masks. All patients are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when coming in to the hospital and all outpatient clinics. Seating within all waiting areas has been rearranged to maintain a safe distance from patient to patient. Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing regimens have been implemented. In the best interest of both patients and staff, the “no visitor policy” will remain in effect for all WVU facilities for the time being.

Safety practices in the Emergency Department include all staff wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and following infection prevention procedures for each patient. All patients entering the Emergency Department are screened by a nurse upon arrival for COVID related symptoms. PVH offers fast turnaround times for Emergency Department patients, minimizing the need for patients to wait in the waiting area.

At the end of May, PVH began scheduling elective procedures with urgent / emergency needs. A team of staff members, including surgeons, continually work together to evaluate, determine, and prioritize which surgeries and procedures are appropriate to be performed. This process allows a phased-in approach to scheduling surgeries, while also ensuring adequate personnel and PPE for emergency surgical cases.

Currently, all surgical patients are tested for COVID-19 through the drive-through testing, located at 99 Seneca Lane, Keyser, at least three days prior to the scheduled procedure. Patients scheduled for surgery are asked to self-isolate for 2 weeks prior to their procedure.

Additional outpatient services have been established to help patients be more comfortable with continuing their every day care. All outpatient clinics are now offering virtual visits for established patients. Through these new virtual, on-line appointments, patients are able to receive an exam, diagnosis, and treatment. They also receive an after visit summary complete with a care plan and follow up instructions, including referrals for a specialist visit or diagnostic imaging.

Finally, patients can have prescriptions sent to a pharmacy of their choice. The Extended Lab offers convenient hours for patients needing routine outpatient laboratory testing performed, if they do not wish to come to the main hospital.

Lastly, a temporary COVID-19 drive-through testing site is operational from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, in the Seneca Lane parking lot, across from the hospital. This service allows symptomatic patients, with a valid order from a licensed practitioner, to be tested without having to leave their car. With this service available, the hospital can to address the urgent needs of the of patients in the Emergency Department, separate from potential COVID-19 patients that don’ t have symptoms.

“We do not know how the country will continue to be affected by the coronavirus in the coming months. One thing I do know, is the staff at PVH will continue to be here for our community. As our knowledge of this novel corona virus evolves, we will keep updating and improving our procedures to create the safest environment possible for patients and their families,” says Boucot.

Potomac Valley Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital in Keyser. The hospital serves the community of Mineral County, West Virginia and surrounding areas. PVH officially became a member of the West Virginia University Health System in 2014. PVH provides inpatient and outpatient care, including 24/7 Emergency Department services. PVH employs more than 250 healthcare professionals, including over 50 physicians, who are dedicated to our mission of striving to treat every patient like a member of our own family.