NMMC-West Point chief nursing officer brings coronavirus information to Rotary

Staff Writer

COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus, was the primary topic of discussion at Thursday’s meeting of the West Point Rotary Club.

Carey Upton invited Pam White, chief nursing officer at North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point, to talk to the club to supply the community with information.

"This strain of the virus is new," White said. "The information we have changes every day. We are all learning as we go. I know I'm not an expert on this virus but I want to share as much information as possible."

White said the health care industry has upped its game. All hospitals are trying to educate the community to the best of its ability.

"It is alarming," White said. "There is a need for caution. But without the level of exaggeration to frighten people."

She said the coronavirus is similar to the flu. Influenza is rare when the weather gets warm.

"Almost no one has the flu during the summer," White said. "We are hoping the same is true with the coronavirus. And if there is one thing Mississippi has an abundance of, it is warm weather. We look for this to die out soon."
White said the elderly and babies would be the ones adversely affected by the virus.

"Don't be surprised if you go to a skilled nursing facility to visit a parent or grandparent and they aren't letting anyone in," White said. "As health care professionals, they will do all they can to keep the residents healthy. You have to understand they won't want anyone carrying the virus to spread it."

It is a respiratory illness, those with COPD or any type of lung problems will be at risk. The illness is spread by droplets, but people coughing or sneezing without covering their mouths, according to White.

"We can do testing for those who have the symptoms of a fever, coughing, sneezing and generally do not feel well, at the hospital," White said. "It will be the same nasal swap we administer for the flu. But after we do the swab, we have to call the State Department of Health and they do the test. It will take a day or two to get the results. You would probably be sent home to isolate yourself for the next two weeks if the test is positive.”

There has been one person in Hattiesburg who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 32 who were tested and found to be negative, White said.

"They are being isolated in their home," White said. "They have not been admitted to the hospital. This is a new virus, it will have to run its course. Most people who are healthy will be fine."