Hamilton Medical Center Tuesday update

Hamilton Medical Center, along with the full Hamilton Health Care System, is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from our community, friends, family, neighbors, and industry as we work together to provide the best care for our community and work to slow the spread of COVID-19. As is happening around the country, our community is seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive and presumed positive cases. While we are hopeful that the numbers in our area will remain as they are, we all know that simply is not the reality. That is why preparation is key, and why it is often difficult to answer questions about the specific numbers of cases – both recovering at home and those who have been admitted to the hospital. These numbers change, sometimes rapidly, and whatever numbers we see now, we know those will surely increase day-by-day and moment-by-moment. What does not change is that COVID-19 will continue to spread rapidly if we do not all practice social distancing guidelines. That includes the assumption that being out in public around others will continue to result in exposures.

Tests completed and results received are updated daily on our website:  https://www.hamiltonhealth.com/test-result-data-tests-performed-at-hamilton-medical-center/. Please remember, these are only tests from Hamilton Medical Center. It does not include other entities in the area that may be testing. Please see the Common COVID-19 Questions sheet for more information: https://www.hamiltonhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Covid-19-questions-answered-sheet-3-2020.pdf.

 

Other questions we have received relate to the number of ventilators on hand and whether we have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Hamilton has been preparing for expected needs and we currently have 35 critical care ventilators. (Hamilton would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Dalton State College for loaning three ventilators for Hamilton’s use while their students are away from campus.)

Hamilton is planning for the long term. That means that despite our best efforts (or any health system’s best efforts), if there is not a focused and determined effort by each and every person in the community to follow social distancing guidelines at all times, no amount of preparation could handle the modeled/projected peak that would result in a higher number of cases. We are extremely grateful to industry leaders and community leaders who have donated PPE or are looking at creative ways to manufacture this equipment and other supplies to get us through an influx of COVID-19 patients. PPE and supplies must continue to be used responsibly, following CDC guidelines, as well as established protocols by Emory and others with science to support means and material of use and limiting exposure. This is how we prepare for not just the cases today, but also what might come tomorrow, next week and next month, and maybe even longer. However, no amount of preparation can ready any health system for the significant spike in cases that would result without social distancing guidelines being followed. In short, yes, we have PPE now. We might not always have enough if we are not all following social distancing guidelines and proper PPE use established by CDC guidelines and other reputable sources.

Other consistent questions we are receiving are about the number of cases in the hospital. As mentioned previously, this number changes rapidly. Also, to provide a number of COVID-19 cases in the hospital would not provide an accurate picture to the public. There have been six confirmed positives from tests conducted at Hamilton. Not all of these have required the level of care to necessitate a hospital admission. Also, this does not account for the number of patients who have been tested and are considered presumed positive because results are not yet returned. Finally, it is also impossible to know how many people in our community who are self-quarantining and may have mild to moderate symptoms that did not require medical treatment or testing. In short, providing a number of cases hospitalized would give an extremely false hope that there might not be reason for the community to be concerned. That would be irresponsible. We expect an increase in cases over the next week to two weeks, and possibly longer. We also know that if people are out and about rather than staying home, that number will increase dramatically.

What we would like the community to know is how Hamilton is preparing for COVID-19 cases. Hamilton is cohorting patients from the time they enter the Emergency Department. We have devoted care areas and devoted care teams for suspected COVID-19 patients. If someone is determined to need to be admitted, and he or she is suspected of having COVID-19, admission is to a designated COVID-19 treatment area. Whether needing intensive care in our Medical Intensive Care Unit or needing hospital care on a regular floor, Hamilton has specific areas where these patients are treated.

Finally, Hamilton would like to remind our community about our no visitor policy. Of course, there are extraordinary circumstances, but we are grateful for the understanding expressed by families that we are doing all we can to protect them and keep them safe as we care for their loved ones. Additionally, we screen every associate and provider at the beginning of each shift, including checking temperature for fever. Any associate who has a fever greater than 100.4 is further screened and sent for testing as medically necessary, following quarantine guidelines as appropriate. Just as with our associates, if there is an extraordinary circumstance where a visitor must enter the hospital, we screen for fever and symptoms as well.

 In sum, the Hamilton family is doing all we can to protect your family. Whether it is additional ventilators, designated treatment rooms, following appropriate PPE guidelines from the CDC, or simply caring for our staff and visitors by screening, we are here to serve you. Our service to our community also includes encouraging each and every person to do his/her part. Please follow social distancing guidelines and good hand hygiene. Please don’t overload the emergency room with non-emergency needs. Hamilton Convenient Care locations are available with extended hours, and some of our Hamilton Physician Group primary Care clinics are offering tele-health visits to established patients.

There simply cannot be enough said about the dedication and hard work of the frontline staff, facilities, infectious disease, and the entire Hamilton family for how they have pulled together to care for the community. It is our honor and privilege to serve you. You are our family.

Be safe. Be well. Thank you for all of your support, kind words and prayers. Social distance.

Graves announces modified congressional art competition

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) ton Wednesday announced that his office will be hosting the annual Congressional Art Competition to encourage and recognize student artists from high schools across the 14th Congressional District. Each Spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent across the nation and in each congressional district. The competition through Rep. Graves’ office this year will be modified due to the ongoing public health crisis, but participation is still encouraged and welcomed.

“Every year I am so impressed with the talent in Northwest Georgia, and this year will be no different,” said Rep. Graves. “Though many schools are closed right now, I am still encouraging students to share their creative talents with our community. I look forward to seeing all of the submissions and recognizing our local artists!”

This year, the Office of Rep. Graves has asked students and teachers to submit high resolution photos via email of any art that they would like to be part of the competition. An updated timeline, along with the required student release forms, can be seen below. The 1st place winner’s artwork will eventually be shipped to Washington, D.C., where it will remain on display in the Cannon House Office Building’s Capitol Tunnel for one year, alongside the 1st place artwork from every congressional district in the country. The deadline for art submissions is April 17, 2020.

The judges, chosen by the Rome Area Council of the Arts, will view the art digitally and will name the top three places as well as two honorable mentions. There will also be a people’s choice award, and the public will be able to view all of this year’s submissions via webpage on Rep. Graves’ official website. The webpage will be shared with the public in the coming weeks.

Students who would like to participate in the competition should email their high resolution photos and necessary attachments to Tracey.bartley@mail.house.gov and Valerie.jones@mail.house.gov.

Congressional Art Competition timeline:

April 17, 2020: Submission deadline for digital entries

April 20, 2020: Submissions forwarded to judging panel

May 1, 2020: Judges decisions due to Congressional office

Additional dates will be announced.

New insurance rules set

ATLANTA — Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King has released a new directive to Georgia’s insurance industry announcing additional protections for Georgia consumers and businesses negatively impacted by the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
 
The directive instructs property and casualty insurers not to cancel any commercial policies for non-payment, particularly those dealing with business interruption or business income coverage, for the next 60 days. It also calls on health insurers to refrain from canceling policies for non-payment until further notice.
 
“The COVID-19 virus is increasingly having a direct financial impact on many families and businesses across our state,” said King. “(The) directive ensures that no one in Georgia loses critical insurance coverage for non-payment due to these circumstances beyond their control.”
 
The directive also alerts insurers that the Commissioner’s Office is halting all in-person, onsite exams, audits and licensing requirements, while temporarily suspending all non-federal filing deadlines and applicable late filing fees until business operations return to normal. Additionally, the commissioner will offer immediate and expedited review for any insurance products that are critical due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects.

Community Foundation creates virus fund

DALTON —  The Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia has launched the COVID-19 Response Fund, a charitable fund designed to provide flexible resources to organizations throughout the region that serve the most vulnerable individuals and families of Northwest Georgia communities amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“From families exercising social distancing to volunteers dropping off groceries at an elderly neighbor’s doorstep to doctors and nurses standing ready at our hospitals, everyone is doing their part to respond during this unprecedented time,” says David Aft, president of the Community Foundation. “We are bracing for what’s ahead, and that’s one reason why we have developed a giving mechanism to raise and deploy much-needed funds to local nonprofits whose missions are to serve the underserved in the communities across Northwest Georgia.”

Aft noted that the fund serves two purposes. First, it will enable people who feel compelled to give during the COVID-19 crisis to make donations now to a trusted partner committed to directing funds to organizations throughout the Northwest Georgia region with proven track records of efficiently serving struggling individuals and families. Second, it will enable the Foundation to help administer those funds to ensure that the donations are distributed to local organizations that help people here in Northwest Georgia. Donations given to national funds may not provide assistance to our region.

“We are still shaping how this fund will operate,” Aft says. “What we do know is that the need will be immediate and long-term. Distributions from our COVID-19 Response Fund will be guided by local volunteers and, at least initially, target areas of immediate need and hardship arising from the recent health crisis. As we learn more about our local needs and the changing nature of this unprecedented situation, we will adapt our process.”

The Foundation has made giving to the COVID-19 Response Fund easy. People who want to contribute should navigate to the COVID-19 Response page on the Foundation’s website and select a giving level in which they feel comfortable — $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, or $5,000.

“The online donation process takes less than three minutes,” he says. “You can direct your gift to help specific counties within Northwest Georgia. Our promise is that we will fulfill each donor’s wishes. And as always, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.”

Donations can be made online at https://www.communityfoundationnwga.org/covid19response. The Foundation also has a link on their Facebook page.

“We know this crisis has the potential to reshape many aspects of our lives,” Aft says. “Charitable giving and the work of key civic and humanitarian organizations will continue to play a vital role.”

The mission of the Community Foundation is to promote philanthropy and charitable giving throughout Northwest Georgia.  Individuals wishing to learn more about ways to respond charitably during the crisis are encouraged to reach out to the Foundation by calling (706) 275-9117 or emailing Aft directly at David.Aft@CommunityFoundationNWGA.org.

“Our job is to help people who are interested in making a difference develop strategies that best suit their needs,” he says. “Charity isn’t just what we do — it is who we are.”

State to expedite nursing licenses

(ATLANTA)-Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is taking action to expedite licensing for healthcare professionals who come to Georgia to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The Georgia Board of Nursing, under the Professional Licensing Boards, a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, will begin issuing temporary permits to nursing professionals licensed in other states who come to Georgia in response to the declaration of a public health state of emergency in Georgia. These licenses will receive expedited review, less than 24 hours for a temporary license and less than 7 days for a regular application, to better respond to the public health threat.

“Fighting, defeating, and overcoming coronavirus in Georgia and across the country will require enlisting the help of the best and brightest medical professionals available,” said Raffensperger. “Regulatory barriers should not get in the way of public health. Quick, temporary licenses for qualified nursing professionals to practice in Georgia will help ensure the people of Georgia have access to the best care possible.”

On March 16, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp signed a public health state of emergency to address COVID-19 in the state of the Georgia.

Following the declaration, the Georgia Board of Nursing, under the Professional Licensing Boards, a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, has enacted provisions for the issuance of temporary permits for nursing professionals who have come to Georgia to fight the coronavirus spread. Licensed practice nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses who have an active license to practice anywhere in the U.S. will be eligible to apply.

To limit bureaucratic obstacles these dedicated health professionals face in Georgia, the temporary licenses will be reviewed in less than 24 hours. Regular licenses will be reviewed in less than 7 days.

Applications can be submitted and permits can be verified at http://www.nursys.com/. Please visit the Board’s website at www.sos.ga.gov/plb/nursing for more information.

Georgia is a member of the Nurse License Compact (NLC), which allows licensed practical nurses or registered nurses from other NLC states with multi-state licenses to practice in Georgia.

Murray County Sheriff’s Office seeks public’s help

The Murray County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following press release:

On Monday, March 16, 2020, at approximately 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), the Murray County Sheriff’s Office responded to Carlton Petty Road at the Conasauga River Bridge regarding an unidentified deceased white male appearing to be in his twenties.

The area was processed by investigators of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The male was transported to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner.

If anyone has information regarding this incident or happened to see anything suspicious between the dates and times of Sunday, March 15, through Monday, March 16, at approximately 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), please call the Murray County Sheriff’s Office at 706-695-4592 ext. 339 or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region One at 706-624-1424.

Langford: Jail visitation suspended

In accordance with Governor’s Office, the inmate visitation at the Murray County Sheriffs Office has been suspended until further notice. This is response to the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting our great state and nation.
The Murray County Sheriffs Office will be conducting business as normal regarding 911 calls for service, extra patrols, investigations, jail operations, and assistance for our citizens. We will still be accepting normal bonding procedures for arrested persons.
If you do not have to come to the Sheriffs Office please do not. Any arrestee(s) will be screened before entry into the facility to aid in the medical awareness of our inmate population. Sheriffs Office employees are receiving personal protection equipment for this event.
The current crisis has prompted National, State, and Local responses to combat this issue. I along with you hope this will pass quickly. We urge everyone to follow safe practices as recommended by our health officials such as the frequent and thorough washing of hands, limiting contact with large crowds and other hygienic practices.
We ask our wonderful community to take part in looking after elderly citizens and those with underlying medical conditions. If you know of any elderly persons that needs assistance with transportation (doctors visits, pharmacy trips, needs for groceries, etc) please reach out to the Sheriffs Office starting on Monday 03/16/2020 at approximately 8:00 am, we will assist as best we can.
Lastly, I humbly ask you to join me in praying for all those affected by the COVID-19 virus, for our community, our state, and our county that we all love. May God bless you all and God bless America.
 
Gary Langford
Sheriff of Murray County
 
Jimmy Davenport
Chief Deputy MCSO

Hogan backs pro-gun resolution

BY JIMMY ESPY
General manager

While stopping short of declaring Murray County a “sanctuary” for gun owners, Commissioner Greg Hogan on Tuesday reiterated his support for the Second Amendment.
Hogan, at his monthly commissioner’s meeting, said he would likely “do a resolution naming us a Second Amendment county” stating the county’s support for gun owners. Hogan told The Times he had a thick “book” of names of local people who support the move.
“I am in full agreement with protecting our Second Amendment rights,” Hogan said.
How much if any legal validity “gun sanctuaries” have is unclear. But the movement is designed to send a pro-gun message to the federal and state governments.

See this week’s The Chatsworth Times for the complete story.

General Electric invests $32M in Murray County with new logistics facility, adding 100 new jobs

Staff Report

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced Thursday last week that GE Appliances (GEA), a Haier company, is significantly expanding its operations in Georgia through three significant investment and job growth initiatives in the state, one of which includes a $32 million investment to build a new Southern Logistics Center that will create 100 new jobs in Murray County. $43 million was invested in the company’s Roper Corporation facility in Walker County, creating 100 new jobs and and a new $55 million smart warehouse, creating 100 new jobs in Jackson County.

“Thanks to corporate partners like GE Appliances, we are seeing greater investment and job growth in every part of our state,” said Kemp. “These jobs in Jackson, Murray, and Walker counties will provide greater opportunity for hardworking Georgians, and we’re very excited to announce GE’s expanded footprint in North Georgia.”

“Georgia has been a longtime home for GE Appliances,” said Kevin Nolan, Chief Executive Officer for GE Appliances. “Our goal continues to be to become the leading major appliance business in the U.S. These investments and job expansions will help us do just that.”

“Innovative manufacturers like GE Appliances are the backbone of our nation’s economy and have long been part of our Northwest Georgia community,” said U.S. Representative Tom Graves (R-Ga.-14), who represents Walker and Murray counties. “I applaud their continued investment to create good-paying jobs in rural communities for so many Georgia families.”

The $32 million investment to build a new Southern Logistics Center in Murray County has been designed to take advantage of Georgia’s decision to expand the Port of Savannah to handle large trans-Pacific container ships, reducing reliance on cross-country trucking from West Coast ports. Connecting the port at Savannah by rail to the Appalachian Regional Port (ARP) in Northwest Georgia brings the benefits of the maritime port some 388 miles inland. This investment and the 100 new jobs that it creates will bring untold opportunities to the Murray County area.

“I am very pleased with the performance of our industrial development authority and all involved with the project. This will bring a diverse job mix and a welcomed new investment to our community,” said Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan.

“With the opening of the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County in August of 2018, we are anticipating more opportunities such as this. The quality of jobs and investment this project is bringing to our community is just the beginning of a long corporate citizenship we want to achieve in Murray County,” said Illya Copeland, Murray County Industrial Development Authority Director.

“The experience working with Scannell Properties and GE has been exactly the partnership we are looking for in murray County. it was a great experience. We would also like to thank Elyse Davis of Georgia Power for helping Murray County locate the project,” said Copeland.

“GPA established the Appalachian Regional Port with a goal of encouraging economic development in a Tier 1 county by providing efficient, cost-effective rail access,” said Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Griff Lynch. “With today’s announcement that a globally recognized brand such as GE Appliances will locate in Murray County, we are certain this is only the beginning of great things to come for the ARP.”

About GE Appliances

At GE Appliances we make the world a better place, and our team is committed to leading in the communities where we live and work. Today, GE appliances are in 50 percent of all U.S. homes, and our business is committed to serving every family in the country. We are a purpose-rooted and passion-driven organization that believes there is always a better way. We sell products under the Monogram®, Café™, GE Profile™, GE®, Haier, and Hotpoint brands. Our products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners and water filtration systems. For more information, visit