Forrest General addresses first presumptive positive case of coronavirus


HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Forrest General Hospital addressed the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus Thursday, March 12.

Rambod Rouhbakhsh, MD, Asst. Director Forrest General Family Medicine Residency Program reported a Forrest County resident traveled out of the state and began showing signs of fever, cough and muscle aches upon his return to the state. He presented himself for testing at one of Forrest General’s clinics. Tests, both nasal and oral, were obtained and submitted to the State Lab for testing of the Coronavirus.

Prior to reporting to the clinic, the patient called ahead and was gloved and masked to help prevent the possibility of spread to patients and healthcare workers. The patient was subsequently sent home for self-quarantine.

Late Wednesday, Forrest General Hospital administration was notified by the State Lab that the test was presumptively positive for the Coronavirus and was being sent to the CDC for confirmation. 

The patient also traveled with a companion who visited another clinic where the same tests were conducted and submitted.

“We are currently awaiting those test results,” Rouhbakhsh said.

“We want to thank this patient for calling in ahead of time before presenting, and we wish him a speedy recovery,” Rouhbakhsh said. At this time, the patient is reportedly doing well.

Forrest General has currently sent three samples to the State Lab for testing. All three have been negative.

Per the CDC, the symptoms for Coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath.  Similarly, typical symptoms of the flu are cough, congestion and fever. For perspective, in 2018, the hospital treated 1,642 flu cases.

“It is far more likely that patients with these symptoms have an illness other than COVID-19,” said Rouhbakhsh. “Nevertheless we were aware that cases would eventually come to our state. We have been preparing for weeks to be ready to care for our patients. We will get through this.

“We are asking the public to remain calm. Due to outbreaks overseas and the national attention, supplies for personal protective equipment are in short supply. These are things like masks, gowns and gloves. Due to this short supply, we will be limiting the number of visitors inside our hospitals. Starting today, we will limit one visitor per patient until such time shipment of supplies starts flowing again. We ask for your during this time of heightened alert.”

According to health officials, three other individuals were tested for the virus. Their tests came back negative.

Officials at Forrest General said tests are available, but the testing will be done at the State Lab.

Pearl River County Nursing Home and Jefferson Davis Community Extended Care Facility are restricting visitation to all persons who are not employed or contracted by the facility to provide daily care.  

Forrest Health hospitals, including Forrest General Hospital, Highland Community Hospital, Marion General Hospital, Jefferson Davis Community Hospital and Extended Care Facility, Walthall General Hospital, Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, The Orthopedic Institute and Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services have implemented new restrictions on visitation to ensure the safety of patients, employees, and visitors.

Out of an abundance of caution, at this time, the facilities are implementing the following changes beginning Thursday, March 12, 2020, and will be in effect until further notice:

·     All hospital visitation will be limited to 1 visitor per patient.

·     Pearl River County Nursing Home and Jefferson Davis Extended Care Facility are restricting visitation to all persons who are not employed or contracted by the facility to provide daily care.   

In order to provide an environment that is safe for patients, visitors, and colleagues the hospital is asking visitors to take certain precautions:

  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently and use an alcohol-based (at least 60 percent) hand sanitizer.
  • Use your elbow or a tissue, if available, to cover any coughs or sneezes and then dispose of the tissue.
  • Stay home or seek medical care if experiencing any symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and think it may be related to the Coronavirus, please call your primary care provider ahead of time before going to their office location.

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