As formally announced today by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) has now confirmed there has been a patient tested at the Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center who has officially been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from ARH.

This is the first patient in the 13-hospital ARH system to test positive for COVID-19, the statement said.

“ARH is committed to being as transparent as possible to keep our communities safe and informed as we move through this rapidly evolving situation that COVID-19 has become. We want our public to be fully aware if there is a case in their community so they can take additional measures to protect themselves and those around them,” said Dr. Maria Braman, ARH Chief Medical Officer. “However, due to patient confidentiality and the turnaround time for tests to be processed as commercial labs get up and running, we encourage the public and the media outlets that are trying to keep them informed, to please have patience, and respectfully ask that everyone be considerate of these patients’ privacy. We understand these are scary and stressful times, but processing these tests takes time and we have been instructed that all positive confirmations are verified by the state and announced by Gov. Beshear’s office.”

Since being tested, the patient, who was in the area visiting from another state at the time they sought treatment at Hazard ARH, has been in self-isolation at a home awaiting results of the COVID-19 test, according to the statement.

The statement said that, during this time, ARH staff members have remained in contact with the patient, monitoring the patient’s condition and offering support.

"Based on these interactions, we feel the patient has taken all the responsible measures to protect themselves and those around them by properly self-quarantining," the statement said. "Due to patient privacy laws, and out of respect for this patient and their family, ARH will not release any further details about the patient."

The statement said the medical system used protocols already in place to treat the patient.

"As part of our extensive training on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and preparation for the potential of COVID-19 in our facilities, during testing our medical staff took every precaution and followed the appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols to prevent exposure to staff and other patients," the statement said. "Due to these measures, no staff or patients were exposed nor require self-isolating,

“We are keeping this patient in our prayers and hope for a quick recovery. This is a new and very contagious virus. This will not be the only case of COVID-19 we see in our communities,” Dr. Braman said. “It is our responsibility as healthcare professionals to be prepared for these cases, and at ARH, we are prepared. Furthermore, it also is our responsibility as citizens to help control the spread of COVID-19 by limiting our exposure to others and practicing the CDC recommendations for social distancing and hand-washing practices. That is the only way we can get ahead of the spread of this virus.”

The statement said that, to help combat the potential spread of COVID-19 into our areas, over the last week, ARH put the following steps in place to keep our patients, employees and caregivers as safe as possible.

ARH has implemented new visitor restrictions and limited entry access to our facilities. Most visitor entrances into ARH facilities are closed. There are signs posted directing you to the appropriate entrances.

No regular visitation is allowed in ARH hospitals. Exceptions will be made for the following:

• Patients at the end of life

• Labor/Delivery – Only one person of the mother’s choosing is allowed to accompany and visit. The visitor will undergo appropriate screening, which includes a fever check. No one with a fever greater than 100 degrees is allowed to visit.

• Pediatric patients – One responsible adult is permitted to stay with pediatric patient, after appropriate screening, which includes a fever check. No one with a fever greater than 100 degrees is allowed to visit.

The statement said that, to further protect its communities from the potential spread of respiratory illnesses to patients coming into the hospital Emergency Departments, ARH also now offers a separate screening area for patients experiencing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, fever or difficulty breathing.

"The goal of the separate screening area is to limit the exposure of patients with respiratory symptoms to other patients with similar symptoms, and to separate them from other emergency department patients who are not experiencing respiratory illnesses," the statement said. "Patients with respiratory symptoms are evaluated in these areas for the proper type of testing and treatment their conditions requires."

ARH understands this is a stressful time for our communities and has developed both a COVID-19 website and Hotline.

The ARH COVID-19 Hotline is open from 7 a.m to 11 p.m., seven days a week, to field questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms, testing and prevention. The Hotline can be reached at, (606) 439-7100. For the most accurate and current ARH COVID-19 updates and information, call the ARH COVID-19 Hotline or visit, www.ARHCOVID19.com.

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