Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
This page will be updated as new information comes out about COVID-19. Check back frequently for new information from trusted resources. Next update will be published on Aug. 2.
COVID-19 Patients & Testing Throughout Our System (Updated Aug. 5, 2020)
Updated July 31, 2020
A Message of Hope
Some people have told me, “Hope isn’t a strategy.” Simply hoping something will happen doesn’t make it happen. I agree, but I also think hope is an integral part of supporting a successful strategy. With the rising number of new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, is there an opportunity for hope? My answer is yes!
We repeatedly hear, “Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands for 20 seconds frequently,” yet the message is not resonating with everyone. Science supports that these three superpowers work. Unlike the movies and comic books, the superpowers in this situation are not embodied in a romantic, larger-than-life hero. The superpowers of COVID-19 live here within us.
North Mississippi, I believe in you, the spirit you share and your commitment to use your powers to do what’s right – respect each other and wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and lead by example. Now’s the time to step forward and say, “Thank you for wearing your mask appropriately; it means a lot to me and my family. Thank you for washing your hands. Thank you for social distancing.”
How can you be a leader in your community? Start by wearing a mask, then create hope in others by saying “thank you.”
Let business owners know you appreciate them and their employees requiring masks. Financially invest in this climate of hope by shopping and dining where owners and workers wear their masks appropriately. Together our actions will make our hope a reality.
Jeremy Blanchard, M.D., MMM
Chief Medical Officer
North Mississippi Health Services
The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Heart Association encourage people across the country to follow science: continue social distancing, washing hands for at least 20 seconds, and most importantly, to wear a face covering when outside the home to stop the spread of COVID-19. #WearAMask #MaskUpMississippi
Updated July 24, 2020
NMMC Gilmore-Amory to Distribute Free Masks by Curbside Pickup
North Mississippi Medical Center Gilmore-Amory will distribute free masks to residents through curbside pickup at the Fitness Center from 9-11 a.m. Thursday and Friday, July 30-31, and from 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, and Thursday, Aug. 6.
Thanks to Wayne Knox of the Gilmore Foundation and Brad Blalock, mayor of Amory, each local family may request up to five masks. The Fitness Center is located on the hospital’s campus at 1105 Earl Frye Blvd.
NMMC Gilmore-Amory is distributing the masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Updated July 24, 2020
NMMC Acquires Negative Pressure Containment Stretcher for Critical Care Transport Unit
North Mississippi Medical Center has purchased north Mississippi’s first negative pressure containment stretcher to allow the transport of patients without exposing staff to COVID-19.
This negative pressure isolation cell will be used for transporting patients on NMMC’s Critical Care Transport unit. The containment stretcher is under negative pressure, which prevents pathogenic microorganisms like the virus from leaking into the environment and contaminating staff. The technology is the same as that used in hospital rooms of COVID-19 patients.
The negative pressure is provided by a filter engine attached to the foot end of the unit. The unit also includes two “gloves” that allow staff to manipulate patients while protected.
NMMC’s Critical Care Transport unit is used along with CareFlight medical helicopter to transport critically ill patients from hospitals throughout the region to NMMC in Tupelo, the only Level II Trauma Center in the north half of Mississippi. The Critical Care Transport vehicle is staffed 24 hours daily by a team of registered nurses, paramedics and EMTs who have received advanced critical training to care for acutely ill patients.
CareFlight medical helicopter will soon be outfitted with a negative pressure containment stretcher as well.
Updated July 21, 2020
NMHS Statement on Bed Capacity
North Mississippi Health Services is collaborating with the Mississippi Department of Health, the Mississippi Hospital Association and nearby hospitals to provide non-COVID and COVID-19 care to those in need. Because we are a seven-hospital system, we are able to contract and expand our bed capacity as needed when demand surges. At present we have the ability to accept medical, surgical and critically ill patients. We continuously monitor our capacity since demand for beds is very dynamic with frequent changes. We anticipate an ongoing need to continue to adapt, expand and contract over the next days, weeks and months so we can care for those in our community with and without COVID-19, assuring them safe and excellent care.
Updated July 15, 2020
NMHS Patients Have Opportunity to Participate in COVID-19 Investigational Treatment
Those who have completely recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma—called “convalescent plasma”—that could be used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.
North Mississippi Medical Center is now working with Vitalant on collecting convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 as part of a program to treat patients infected with the virus. This FDA-sponsored investigation includes emergency use of a special blood product containing antibodies that may give patients an extra boost to fight the virus. Here's the full story.
Updated July 13, 2020
NMMC-West Point to Distribute Free Masks to Residents
North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point will distribute free masks to residents between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. beginning Wednesday, July 15, at the Wellness Center, 185 Medical Center Circle. Masks will be distributed during those hours weekdays while supplies last.
Individuals may request a free mask for each member of their household age 6 or older. NMMC-West Point is distributing the donated masks to support the city of West Point’s masking requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
West Point Masking Statement/NMHS ICU Bed Availability
Updated July 9, 2020
NMHS/NMMC-West Point Statement on West Point Masking Requirement
"On behalf of North Mississippi Health Services and North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point, we would like to thank Mayor Robbie Robinson and the Board of Selectmen for taking a stance as a leader in public health by approving masking requirements for West Point. We wholeheartedly support this decision. Wearing a mask is the simplest, least expensive yet most effective means of preventing viral spread. By combining masking with frequent hand-washing and social distancing, our region can reduce the impact of COVID-19. We require masking in our hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other NMHS locations. Many of our employees have been leading by example by wearing their masks outside of work to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
North Mississippi Health Services
North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point
ICU Bed Availability
We are greatly appreciative of Dr. Dobbs and the Mississippi Department of Health’s leadership and guidance. As part of our collaboration with the Department of Health, we daily supply numbers on our capacity in both our ICUs and medical/surgical units. We report once a day, and the situation is very dynamic. We report, as requested, as individual hospitals; however, there are seven hospitals in our system, and we function as a system. We currently have ICU beds available at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo and within our system to care for COVID and non-COVID patients. This is dynamic—part of our response is to adjust our resources to provide excellent and timely care to all patients seeking our medical support.
Dr. Jeremy Blanchard
System Chief Medical Officer
North Mississippi Health Services
Open Letter to All Mississippians
Updated July 8, 2020
A joint letter from the Mississippi Hospital Association, Mississippi Municipal League, Mississippi Nurses Association and Mississippi State Medical Association
Open Letter to All Mississippians,
Mississippians have always been recognized for our generosity. As physicians, nurses, hospital and health systems leaders, public health experts, and municipal leaders, we are urging Mississippians to continue to show their generosity by taking simple steps to protect your neighbors and your loved ones—and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Our request is simple: wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands frequently.
In the weeks since our state began reopening, our communities have seen a huge increase in COVID-19 cases, which is a cause for concern and action. In just the last two weeks, Mississippi has experienced one of the largest percentage increases in daily cases of any state in the country. Our number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are also at an all-time high, which is significantly increasing our utilization of existing intensive care beds. Right now, we are ranked among the top 10 states in the country for the use of intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients. The situation is serious, and we need to act now to protect public health.
The good news is that we have a cheap, effective way to protect all Mississippians: wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands. Researchers at the University of Washington predict the U.S. could reach 180,000 COVID-19 deaths by October, but 33,000 of those deaths could be prevented if at least 95 percent of people wear a mask.
Our health system in Mississippi remains prepared to care for you, but we need everyone to do their part to keep our citizens safe and healthy and to keep our economy open for business.
Together, we can make a difference.
Mississippi Hospital Association
Mississippi Municipal League
Mississippi Nurses Association
Mississippi State Medical Association
Open Letter to the American Public
Updated July 6, 2020
A joint letter from the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association
An open letter to the American public,
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have urged the American people to protect themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones amidst the worst global health crisis in generations. After months of physical distancing and staying at home, infections and deaths began to decline.
But in the weeks since states began reopening, some of the steps that were critical to the progress we made were too quickly abandoned. And we are now watching in real-time as a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases is erasing our hard-won gains. Hospitals in some states are at or nearing their ICU capacity. Shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies continue to pose a dire threat to health care workers and patients alike. And last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that the U.S could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases each day if we do not take more precautions.
This is why as physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts, we are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands. We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health—by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions.
The toll of this pandemic is already staggering, and it will take many more months, perhaps years, to truly understand its impact on our country and our way of life. But what is certain – and what the science and evidence are telling us – is that COVID-19 is not behind us and we must resist confusing re-opening with returning to normalcy. Doing so will escalate this crisis and result in more suffering and death.
To those of you who are doing your part in helping turn the tide of this pandemic – thank you. Your actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this – together.
Your continued partners in health,
American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Nurses Association
NMHS Facility Safety
Updated July 2, 2020
North Mississippi Health Services' Environmental Services staff is working extra hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our facility clean and safe for patients, their family members and our staff.
June 30, 2020 Update
Updated June 30, 2020
Because of inclement weather, North Mississippi Medical Center has CANCELED the curbside free mask giveaway for Wednesday, July 1.
Weather permitting, NMMC will offer free masks to Tupelo residents through curbside pickup from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 2-3, at the NMMC Wellness Center, 1030 S. Madison St. Individuals may pull up to the curb near the Wellness Center’s front entrance and request a free mask for each member of their household age 12 or older. Masks will be distributed during these hours while supplies last.
NMMC is distributing the donated masks to support the city of Tupelo’s masking requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
NMHS/NMMC Statement on Tupelo Masking Requirement
Updated June 26, 2020
"On behalf of North Mississippi Health Services and North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo, we would like to thank Mayor Jason Shelton for taking a stance as a leader in public health by approving masking requirements for our city. We wholeheartedly support this decision. We require masking in our hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other NMHS locations. Many of our employees have been leading by example by wearing their masks outside of work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will support this community initiative by distributing donated masks to Tupelo residents beginning next week. Specific details on the distribution of masks will follow later."
North Mississippi Health Services
North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo
NMHS Patients Have Opportunity to Participate in COVID-19 Investigational Treatment
Updated June 26, 2020
TUPELO, Mississippi -- North Mississippi Health Services is participating in Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma for the Treatment of Patients with COVID-19.
“Patients who are severely ill from COVID-19 are eligible to receive plasma (the liquid portion of blood without blood cells) from patients who have already recovered from COVID-19,” said Stephen Southworth, M.D., chairman of the NMHS Institutional Review Board (IRB). “Plasma donated from recovered COVID-19 patients may have the ability to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 through antibodies. This treatment is investigational, but early results are promising.”
Affected patients must provide informed consent and meet inclusion criteria in order to be eligible. While the national protocol is being overseen by the Mayo Clinic, this program was reviewed and approved by the NMHS IRB.
The purpose of the IRB is to maximize the safety and ethical treatment of human subject participants. The NMHS IRB oversees all research relating to NMHS patients and is composed of science members, non-science members and members of the community at large.
To learn more about the IRB, clinical trials and research oversight, visit www.nmhs.net/clinical-trials.
CMO Discusses COVID-19 Prevention
Updated June 25, 2020
Interview with CMO Dr. Jeremy Blanchard on June 25, 2020.
NMHS Introduces New Visitation Policy on June 1
Updated June 1, 2020
Children under age 17 not permitted.
Visitation is restricted for all patients, with further clarification for specific facilities and units, to protect our patients, visitors and staff. A designated visitor is the visitor who first visits the patient that day and may not change during the day; designated visitors may change the next day.
Inpatients: One designated visitor per day, except two per day for an end-of-life situation. For an end-of-life situation, a patient may have two designated visitors per day, but these two visitors may not change throughout that day.
Pediatric Patients: Visitation is currently restricted to mother and father or support person only.
COVID-19 Suspected/Confirmed Patients: No visitors, except two designated per day for an end-of-life situation. For an end-of-life situation, a patient may have two designated visitors per day, but these two visitors may not change throughout that day.
NMMC Women’s Hospital, NMMC Gilmore-Amory and NMMC-West Point: Only one designated family member or caregiver per maternity patient per day in order to limit the number of total visitors.
NMMC Women’s Hospital NICU, NMMC Gilmore-Amory NICU: For the protection of our babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, visitation is currently restricted to mother and father or support person only.
Outpatient surgical patients: Visitation is limited to one visitor (the patient’s designated driver) before and after surgery.
We ask that visitors who meet these visitation guidelines refrain from visiting if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection:
- Temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle Pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Masks are required. Visitors who do not follow personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines will be asked to leave the premises to protect the safety of our patients and staff.
NMMC Wellness Centers Reopening
Updated May 26, 2020
NMMC Wellness Centers in Tupelo, Amory, Baldwyn, Pontotoc and West Point will reopen Monday, June 1, with several operational changes. By respecting these changes and showing courtesy for staff and fellow members, we can ensure our Wellness Centers are enjoyable and safe.
Hours are reduced at some facilities. All members will have their temperature checked before entering. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 will be denied entry. Please wear a mask upon entering and while in common areas such as the locker room and main lobby.
Only active members will be allowed; NO guests.
Members will be limited in each Wellness Center; the total is less than the 30% capacity by governor’s orders.
A distance of 12 feet is required between members on the Fitness Floor. Everyone is limited to 30 minutes on cardio machines and one hour total workout time. Please clean equipment after use; fitness instructors will also clean multiple times daily.
Classes are suspended and certain areas of each facility will be closed.
Billing was suspended on April 1 and will not resume until July 1. Members may opt to freeze their membership with no monthly fee for up to 90 days by emailing or calling their local Wellness Center.
For the full policy, click the appropriate Wellness Center link above.
COVID-19 is Color Blind (Spanish Version)
Updated May 21, 2020
Physicians and registered nurses encourage Hispanics and African-Americans of the necessity of taking all precautions to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. The video features Spanish-speaking physicians and registered nurses, including Drs. Ana Bonetti, Brad Crosswhite, Adriano Duran, Joaquin Hidalgo, Johanna Lu, Demetrio Prota, Francisco Sierra and Jaime Ungo, and registered nurses Jonathan Saga Stume and Javier Tiscareno. The “COVID-19 is Color Blind” video is available in Spanish and English. Both versions were produced by North Mississippi Health Services Media Services.
Our ERs Are Open
Updated May 20, 2020
A Message from Joe Johnsey, chief medical officer for Relias Healthcare and NMMC Emergency Department physician:
While those of us who call northeast Mississippi home have never felt the concept of the 100-year flood as intimately as our fellow citizens of Mississippi Delta, we are in close enough proximity to be familiar with the concept. I recall in college when there was such an event that struck the Mississippi River Valley. I recall the changes it forced in some areas. Some lives were forever altered. In medicine we are experiencing our “100-year flood” event. The last time our world felt something as intense as this was just over 100 years ago with the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Like that pandemic, this one is something we were not prepared for. Therefore, we had to, in a way, respond with “excessive force” to be sure that we could manage the crisis. We enacted measures never seen before in the U.S. Masks have now become commonplace and restaurants, for a time, became a memory.
In addition, we asked everyone to stay at home. The desire was simple. We did not know how infective and dangerous this virus was. We heard horror stories from Italy and Spain, and we worried that our friends and families and neighbors would face the same fate. So we desired that, as much as possible, everyone would stay at home and stay safe and disease-free. The public honored that request in a more impressive manner than most anyone anticipated. We in the health care field were given time and opportunity to rally our resources and plan for a predicted wave of coronavirus-infected patients. Thankfully in this area, patients came in more of a trickle than a wave.
However, we have found that some took the stay-at-home message too literally. We have seen that patients suffering from heart attack or stroke are staying at home far longer than they should. Refusals for ambulance transport have dramatically increased and 911 calls have decreased. While staying at home has limited some of the need for medical care, we know that strokes and heart attacks do not stop because there is a national crisis. In fact, there are good reasons to believe the incidence of such events should actually increase.
Patients who are staying at home are doing so for at least two reasons. First, they do not want to burden a health care system that is potentially overburdened by this pandemic. Let me assure you we are not. In the Emergency Rooms in particular, we are always prepared to care for the next person that needs our help. That is always true no matter if it is a tornado, car wreck, heart attack or pandemic. The second common reason I hear for patients staying at home is the fear of catching the virus in the Emergency Room. We focus on that as a routine concern all the time. We are focused on isolating patients that might have COVID-19 even before they enter the ER. We screen them at our doors or in the ambulance before they arrive and make sure we limit the chance of making anyone else ill as much as is possible. We have been doing the same with other diseases for decades. We also take the time to decontaminate each room after every patient, but especially anyone we think might have an infectious disease, before the next patient enters. Our first desire, even before we consider how to make someone well, is to make sure we don’t let anyone get sick because they came to us for care.
We are working diligently to make sure you have access to safe, high quality health care. Thank you for being concerned about us. We are honored. But please don’t let anything get in the way of getting the care you need. We are always open for business when you need us.
"Let's Stay Healthy Together" Videos Introduced
Updated May 15, 2020
According to the CDC, the two most important things that each of us can do right now to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wash our hands and wear a mask. North Mississippi Health Services enlisted community members to promote “Let’s Stay Healthy Together” in videos.
Singer/songwriter Paul Thorn of Plantersville and WTVA’s chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan of Saltillo took the invitation to heart and created a message on how each of us can do our part to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We invite you to visit here and the North Mississippi Health Services page on Facebook. Check back often as new videos will be added in the coming weeks.
NMMC-Hamilton Resumes Elective Surgeries
Updated May 7, 2020
North Mississippi Medical Center-Hamilton in Hamilton, Alabama resumed elective surgeries on May 7.
“Our visitation policy for inpatient and outpatient surgical patients will allow one visitor (such as the patient’s designated driver) before and after surgery,” said Jennifer Brewer, RN, the hospital’s chief nursing officer. “Our visitation policies protect patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19.”
“Our additional measures will be in place as long as needed to reassure the public that it is safe to access care here,” Robert Trimm, North Mississippi Medical Center-Hamilton administrator, said. “Our mission is to improve the health of the people of our region. We’re ready to resume services that fit the newest guidelines set forth by the state.”
Coloring Sheet Created to Celebrate Health Care Workers, National Hospital Week
Updated May 7, 2020
National Hospital Week is May 10-16. Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, has created a coloring sheet for Mississippians to say Thank You to health care workers. Print the coloring sheet and post a photo with your colored page on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtags #ConnectNMMC #HealthcareHeroes
Elective Surgeries Now Available in Amory and West Point
Updated May 1, 2020
North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point and North Mississippi Medical Center Gilmore-Amory will resume elective surgeries on Monday, May 4.
NMMC-Tupelo Resumes Elective Surgeries
Updated April 27, 2020
North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo to Resume Elective Surgeries on April 28
North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo will resume elective surgeries on April 28 in response to Governor Tate Reeves' recent change, which allows for a restart of elective surgeries and procedures that meet statewide guidelines.
NMMC-Tupelo will initially offer elective surgeries at the medical center, North Mississippi Surgery Center and Women’s Hospital. NMMC-Gilmore Amory, NMMC-West Point and NMMC-Hamilton will soon follow Tupelo in restarting these services.
“During this pandemic, I have been concerned about the public deferring much-needed healthcare because they are fearful of entering a healthcare facility,” said Shane Spees, North Mississippi Health Services president and chief executive officer. “Rest assured, our facilities, which were safe prior to COVID-19, are even safer today because of our diligence in hand hygiene, masking, screening of all entrants, protective equipment usage, cohorting and distancing of patients who are COVID-19 positive or presumed to be COVID-19 positive, as well as continuous sanitizing of facilities.”
Emergent and urgent surgeries, cases considered necessary in order to safe life or limb or to prevent an urgent condition from becoming an emergency, continued during Governor Reeves' statewide executive order. However, his executive order postponed any and all elective cases until April 28th.
Surgical offices will be contacting their patients to reschedule appointments and patients may contact their surgeon’s office as well to request an appointment.
Special precautions will continue to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, including routine screening of physicians and staff involved in patient care. Also, all surgical patients and their designated visitor will undergo a COVID-19 screening upon arrival. Patients will receive an isolation mask. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own mask. Masks will be provided to those visitors who do not have one. We will continue to observe social distancing within public areas.
Beginning April 28, the hospital’s visitation policy is being modified to allow inpatient and outpatient surgical patients to have one visitor (such as the patient’s designated driver) before and after surgery. The visitation policies protect patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19.
“We will keep our additional safety measures in place as long as needed to reassure the public that it is safe to access care at NMHS,” Spees said. “Our mission is to improve the health of the people of our region. We’re ready to resume services that fit the newest guidelines set forth by the state.”
NMMC Discharges First COVID-19 Ventilator Patient
Updated April 22, 2020
NMMC Discharges First COVID-19 Ventilator Patient
On April 16, Maggie Carroll of Cotton Plant became North Mississippi Medical Center’s first COVID-19 patient to be extubated from the ventilator and discharged from the hospital.
“I got up on a Thursday morning with a tightness in my chest. That was the only symptom I had,” said Carroll, who was scheduled to work her shift at Dirt Cheap in Blue Mountain later that afternoon. “I went ahead and went to the ER.” Her only underlying health conditions are diabetes and high blood pressure.
Carroll was admitted to NMMC that day, March 26, and her condition continued to worsen. To help her breathe, she was placed on a ventilator on March 28, her 52nd birthday. “I really don’t remember much about it,” Carroll said. “I stayed confused a lot of the time. The doctors and nurses kept my sisters, Kim and Linda, informed because no one could stay with me.” To help limit exposure, COVID-19 patients are not allowed visitors except at end of life.
After 13 days on the ventilator and several more days in the hospital, Carroll’s doctor said she was well enough to go home. On April 16, NMMC staff members lined the halls on the COVID-19 unit and the lobby as Carroll was pushed in a wheelchair to her sister’s car. “It was wonderful watching everybody cheering me on. I couldn’t do anything but cry,” she said. “I was so happy to be going home, and I realized how sick I had been. I was amazed at the staff—what an awesome team!”
Carroll, who had gotten extremely weak from the coronavirus, has been resting since she left the hospital. “I feel great now. I can stand up without any help, and I’m wanting to get some exercise,” she said. “I’m ready to get off this porch!”
To anyone who thinks COVID-19 may not be as bad as doctors warn, Carroll said, “Cover up when you go around people—put a mask and gloves on. It’s real.”
While Carroll still doesn’t know how she contracted COVID-19, she certainly knows how she recovered. “I thank God I made it through,” she said. “I have to give Him all the praise. God worked through the doctor. They said I was a miracle. If it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t be here.”
COVID-19 is Color Blind
Updated April 20, 2020
COVID-19 is Color Blind
Physicians, nurse practitioners and others encourage African-Americans of the necessity of taking all precautions to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. The African-American community, given their statistically poorer overall health, are at greatest risk. The video features Drs. Eric Lewis, Lakeisha Chism, Richard Rainey, Vernon Rayford, Barbrette Baldwin, Marcus Britton, Roger Huey, Renee Walters and Norris Crump; Sylvia Blanchard, DNP; Ormella Cummings, Ph.D.; and Kasey Lewis. The video was produced by North Mississippi Health Services Media Services to help raise awareness of COVID-19.
April 17, 2020 Update
Updated April 17, 2020
The fee for a COVID-19 diagnostic test is $150 at all North Mississippi Medical Center hospitals (Amory, Eupora, Iuka, Pontotoc and West Point, Mississippi, and Hamilton, Alabama). This information is being made public in accordance to Section 3202(b) of the CARES Act.
April 13, 2020 Update
Updated April 13, 2020
Beginning April 20, Preadmission Testing will be located at Longtown Medical Park.
NMHS has purchased a reusable antimicrobial cloth facemask for every member of the NMHS team. The facemask is FDA approved and contains antimicrobial properties appropriate for use by health care workers.
The masks were manufactured by America Knits of Swainsboro, Georgia, which is co-owned by local cardiothoracic surgeon David Talton, M.D. Dr. Talton offered NMHS the opportunity to purchase the first masks his company manufactured.
Donation hours have changed to 8 a.m.-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the NMMC-Tupelo Wellness Center, 1030 S. Madison. Individuals or industries who would like to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to North Mississippi Health Services are asked to drop off items during these new hours.
These items may be dropped off anytime at the NMMC-West Point Emergency Department Security Desk, 150 Medical Center Drive.
Individually packaged snack items may also be donated at these locations. NMHS appreciates the overwhelming support from our communities. For more information, call (662) 377-3131 in Tupelo or (662) 495-2141 in West Point.
If you or your business/organization would like to donate meals for front-line caregivers at NMMC-Tupelo, please call the Volunteer Services Department at (662) 377-3131 between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday to schedule delivery. Our Volunteer Services Department is coordinating donated meals to ensure that every day is covered and as many people as possible benefit. We are truly grateful for our community’s support.
April 9, 2020 Update
Updated April 9, 2020
Today’s update is a video message from Shane Spees, North Mississippi Health Services president and chief executive officer. The message was shared internally with our workforce and is being shared with the community.
Three weeks ago, COVID-19 threw vast clinical challenges our way. And our organization and clinical teams are meeting those challenges in an amazing way. But COVID-19 also brought with it the greatest financial challenge our system, and the health care industry, has ever faced. Volumes have dramatically decreased by 40-60 percent in many areas over the past three weeks.
If we took no action to address the financial impact of decreased volumes and if we received no “relief” from recent governmental actions, we estimate our system will lose an average of $28 million per month until volumes rebound. We are in the process of implementing a series of expense-reduction actions. The first action occurred Monday when the senior leadership team took a 25 percent reduction in salaries. We continue to flex clinical staff, everywhere possible, to match patient volumes. But given the dramatic decrease in volumes (e.g., 50 percent of our normal volumes), we need to make additional changes in order to flex our entire organization’s staffing to match volumes. To do so will require a furlough, which we expect to implement beginning April 13.
In a few months, we will look back on this together and say, “we helped thousands of people; we made a difference in the lives of thousands” and we improved the health of the people of our region.
Get the Facts on Coronavirus video
April 8, 2020 Update
Updated April 8, 2020
North Mississippi Health Services reached a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19 on Monday, April 6th – “universal masking” throughout all NMHS facilities. The universal masking approach provides masks for all healthcare workers, clinical and non-clinical, to wear when working in one of our facilities. This approach is in addition to the other personal protective equipment (PPE) precautions previously taken to protect those who are caring for COVID-19 patients or those patients we suspect have the virus. This universal masking approach will help prevent further spreading of COVID-19.
We are able to go to universal masking since we have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) in inventory to meet current demand as well as the expected surge in demand related to caring for COVID-19 patients. We greatly appreciate the contributions of PPE from several businesses throughout our community and appreciate the efforts of our supply team who has worked relentlessly over the past few weeks acquiring PPE from private suppliers. These efforts positioned us to go to universal masking.
We will continue to follow CDC guidelines in protecting our healthcare team and we encourage the public to utilize important safety precautions such as frequent hand-washing, keeping a safe social distance, avoiding group settings and wearing their own mask when they have to go out in public areas. We appreciate the incredible effort by our healthcare team!
April 7, 2020 Update
Updated April 7, 2020
We now offer virtual visits with participating providers from the safety, comfort and convenience of your home.
Virtual Video Visits
Connect with your provider through any video-capable device. You can have follow-up for conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, or see a physician or nurse practitioner for many new complaints like sinus problems, cough, back pain, headache, red eye, heartburn, urinary problems and others.
Simply call your clinic or Nurse Link at 1-800-882-6274 to set up an appointment. Virtual Video Visits are currently covered by all major insurers.
If you have a simple medical problem (whether new or a pre-existing condition) but do not have a video-capable device, you can reach out to a participating clinic for a personal Telephone Visit with a provider. The doctor or nurse practitioner can evaluate your condition to see if it can be treated adequately over a phone call or if it needs further evaluation.
Simply call your clinic or Nurse Link at 1-800-882-6274 to set up an appointment. Telephone Visits are currently covered by all major insurers.
We now offer convenient E-Visits with Urgent Care providers seven days a week. Simply log into myConnection and request an E-Visit. If you are not already using myConnection, enrolling is free and easy here.
If you request a visit between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., you should expect a response from us within four hours. Otherwise, you can expect a response from us the following day.
E-visits are payable by credit card and debit card only and cannot be billed to your insurance. The cost for an E-visit is $29.
We're Here for You
If you desire a traditional in clinic visit, we’re here for you. Call your clinic or Nurse Link at 1-800-882-6274 for an appointment.
Home Health Updates, April 1, 2020
Updated April 1, 2020
Thanks to new waivers issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can now:
- Order home health services
- Sign a home health plan of care
- Certify patient eligibility for Medicare home health services
For patients, this means that your normal provider - if you see a nurse practitioner or physician assistant - can order any home health services you need. It also gives providers and patients more flexibility so they can practice social distancing more easily.
Visitation Policy, Updated March 27, 2020
Updated March 27, 2020
Based on the executive order issued by the Governor of the State of Mississippi, the visitation policies at all North Mississippi Medical Center hospitals will change effective immediately:
Children under age 17 not permitted.
Visitation is restricted for all patients, with further clarification for specific facilities, units and patient types below:
General Acute Care and Swing Bed Patients: No visitors, except two per day for an end-of-life situation. For an end-of-life situation, a patient may have two visitors per day, but these two visitors may not change throughout that day.
Critical Care Unit (CCU): Only one designated family member or caregiver per day per patient throughout the patient’s hospital stay in order to limit the number of total visitors. For an end-of-life situation, a patient may have two visitors per day, but these two visitors may not change throughout that day.
COVID-19 Suspected/Confirmed Patients: No visitors, except two per day for an end-of-life situation. For an end-of-life situation, a patient may have two visitors per day, but these two visitors may not change throughout that day.
Dementia/altered mental status: Only one designated family member or caregiver per patient throughout the hospital stay in order to limit the number of total visitors
Pediatric patients: Only one designated family member or caregiver per patient throughout the hospital stay in order to limit the number of total visitors
NMMC Women’s Hospital, NMMC Gilmore-Amory, NMMC-West Point: Only one designated family member or caregiver per maternity patient throughout the hospital stay in order to limit the number of total visitors
NMMC Women’s Hospital NICU, NMMC Gilmore-Amory NICU: For the protection of our babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, visitation is currently restricted to mother and father or support person only
Outpatient surgical patients: Visitation is limited to one visitor (the patient’s designated driver) before and after surgery
We ask that visitors who meet these visitation guidelines refrain from visiting if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection:
- Temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher
- Shortness of breath
- Travel outside of Mississippi, Alabama or Tennessee in last 14 days
Visitors who do not follow personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines will be asked to leave the premises to protect the safety of our patients and staff.
NMHS, City of Tupelo Partner on COVID-19 Updates
Updated March 23, 2020
North Mississippi Health Services and the City of Tupelo are working together to raise the community’s awareness of COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing capabilities provided by the State of Mississippi have been available for a week now in northeast Mississippi. Capabilities provided by the state include “testing kits” for local providers to use in collecting and transporting specimens, which are then sent to the state lab or an outside lab for processing. The state or outside lab sends the results of each test to the site that collected the specimen or to the provider, as directed by the order. The total time from collection of the specimen to receipt of the results by the provider could be four days or more. Mississippi’s state lab has prioritized processing of tests for these individuals as follows:
1. Hospitalized patients
2. Exposed healthcare workers
3. Non-hospitalized patients
North Mississippi Health Services’ experience during the first week of testing is:
• 338 total collections sent to the State of Mississippi
• 141 of 338 are still pending results
• 17 tests were positive; 7 of those 17 positives are patients hospitalized within our healthcare system and 10 are quarantined at home
“We all should continue emphasizing the importance of precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and support actions taken by our government officials to promote social distancing and avoiding group gatherings,” said Shane Spees, NMHS president and chief executive officer. “These precautions protect your family, neighbors and you. We know that prevention and containment are the best means currently available to limit the impact of COVID-19. Prevention and containment measures will not only limit the viral spread but will help ensure that needed healthcare services are not overwhelmed and remain available to all who need care, not just COVID-19 patients.”
“Our area is extremely fortunate to have one of the nation’s best medical centers right here in Tupelo. By working together and following the guidance of our medical team, we can do our part to flatten the curve,” said Mayor Jason Shelton, City of Tupelo.
Visit www.cdc.gov for www.nmhs.net/coronavirus for timely updates on COVID-19 (coronavirus). The CDC offers a symptom checker to help individuals determine their risk. The handy Coronavirus Self-Checker, located at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/index.html, suggests what steps to take based on information provided. NMHS is following CDC criteria for testing and treatment.
In addition to this offering from the CDC, area residents may call Nurse Link at 1-800-882-6274 for answers to questions about the coronavirus and NMHS locations. The free service, which is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, connects callers with information to address health care concerns.
March 23, 2020 Update
Updated March 23, 2020
Individuals or industries who would like to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to North Mississippi Health Services can drop off items at NMMC Wellness Centers in Tupelo and West Point.
Needed supplies include:
- N95 medical or industrial grade masks
- Nitrile or medical grade gloves
- Hand sanitizers
- Clorox wipes & other disinfectant wipes
- Non-regulatory masks, goggles & face shields
Donations will be accepted between 8-10 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday starting Tuesday, March 24.
The Wellness Centers are located at 1030 S. Madison St., Tupelo and 185 Medical Center Circle, West Point.
Community members have also inquired about what they can do to show appreciation for our caregivers. Individually packaged snack items would be a great idea for this and can also be dropped off at these Wellness Centers during these hours.
“We have already experienced tremendous community support in the form of gift cards for our frontline team members taking care of COVID-19 patients,” said NMMC-Tupelo President David Wilson. “We are blessed and honored that there remains a widespread effort to also support our caregivers with donations of personal protective equipment. Given the limited market supply, we will graciously accept these donations at our Wellness Center.”
“We are so humbled and appreciative for the outpouring of support we are receiving from our community and local businesses. We are all in this together battling this pandemic, and that is the beauty of living and working in our family-oriented community. Everyone is looking for ways to help,” said NMMC-West Point Administrator Barry Keel. “Thanks to everyone for their support. Please know that we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure our patients are provided exceptional care throughout this process.”
For more information, call (662) 377-3131 in Tupelo or (662) 495-2141 in West Point.
CDC's Coronavirus Symptom Checker
CDC's Coronavirus Symptom Checker
Do you know your risk for the coronavirus? Visit the CDC's symptom checker to determine your risk. This handy tool suggests what steps you should take based on the information provided. North Mississippi Health Services is following CDC criteria for testing and treatment.
In addition to this offering from the CDC, we invite you to call Nurse Link at 1-800-882-6274 for answers to your questions about the coronavirus and our locations near you. The free service, provided by NMHS, is there for you 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Nurse Link connects you with the information you need to address your health care concerns. Our call center is available in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, and is supported by local providers as needed.
For timely updates on the coronavirus, visit the CDC web site and this page.
March 20, 2020 Update
Updated March 20, 2020
North Mississippi Health Services implemented restricted visitation policies and congregation of people at its hospitals on March 15.
Here are specific visitation restrictions that are now in place:
Hospice/End-of-Life (including Critical Care Unit): Limited to 2 visitors per patient
COVID-19 Suspected/Confirmed Patients: No visitors, except for end-of-life
All other acute care patients, including Critical Care Unit: 1 designated visitor per patient at a time
NMMC Women’s Hospital: Only one designated family member or caregiver is allowed per patient throughout their hospital stay in order to limit the number of visitors. Children under age 14 are not permitted to visit.
NMMC Women’s Hospital NICU: For the protection of our babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, visitation is currently restricted to mother and father or support person only.
We are caring for patients who are suspicious of or have tested positive for COVID-19. To date, that is a small percentage of the total number of patients in the hospital. As you know and can appreciate, laws prevent us from sharing patient specific information. We are utilizing national guidelines to protect the safety of patients and the care team.
The NMMC-Tupelo Auxiliary Gift & Floral Shop will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Customers may call (662) 377-4194 with pick-up orders only and gift shop staff will meet them at the door. Food items, sundries, flowers and gifts will be available.
The NMMC Women’s Hospital Gift Shop will close to the public Monday, March 23. Customers may call (662) 377-4939 between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday with orders for balloons, flowers and plush items to be delivered within Women’s Hospital (patient rooms or departments).
We appreciate your patience and flexibility during this time.
March 17, 2020 Update
A Message for Our Clinic Patients
We know that you may have a lot of concerns and questions about your health, and we are committed to keeping our community safe by introducing new safeguards and procedures. In alignment with our commitment, we want to update you on changes and current guidance:
There is nothing more important than your health for you and your family. That is North Mississippi Health Services' priority, too. For patients that are most vulnerable in our community or at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, we are working to proactively reach out and ensure these patients are cared for in the best possible way. This may include potentially rescheduling any non-essential visits. If you feel that it is not in your best interest to seek care for non-urgent visits at this time, please reach out to your provider’s office and reschedule your appointment. This information is specific to clinic visits. If you have questions about appointments, tests or procedures at any North Mississippi Medical Center hospitals, please contact them directly.
If you have symptoms like cough, fever or other respiratory problems, please contact your provider's office by phone or Nurse Link (1-800-882-6274) before coming to a clinic or hospital. Please do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.
Clinic Precautions of Note
- In an effort to limit unnecessary exposure, patients who have an appointment at a clinic may have one person accompany them, if necessary.
- We are doing our best to handle the volume of phone calls we have been receiving. Please bear with us as you may experience longer than usual phone wait times. We appreciate your patience. Your care and safety are always our top priorities. For your safety and to minimize the potential of virus exposure for our patients and staff, we are screening all patients via phone before scheduling any appointments.
- Out of an abundance of caution and given the COVID-19 community situation, the ability to self-schedule appointments in the patient portal (myConnection) is currently unavailable. Please know that all of the other great functionality available within myConnection will continue to be available. myConnection is an excellent resource for you and we encourage utilization of it. If you are an established patient and haven’t registered for our new patient portal, it’s easy. Visit www.myconnection.org.
We appreciate your understanding during these uncertain times. Our goal is to protect you, your loved ones and our team members. If you have any questions, please contact your care team.
March 16, 2020 Update
Message to Our Community
Earlier today the first positive test result for COVID-19 in our service area (Monroe County) was disclosed by the Mississippi Department of Health. Prior to that reporting, all previous COVID-19 tests on patients in north Mississippi were negative. Over the weekend we stepped up our precautionary measures (such as limiting visitation, restricting access points into our hospitals, screening staff and visitors upon entering our hospitals and screening/testing employees and medical staff who have returned from travel from an affected area and cohorting patients under watch into one physical area).
For your safety and the safety of others, we will continue these precautionary measures for an indefinite period of time and adjust those precautions as needed. We will assess the situation on a daily basis.
Prevention and containment are the best practices in limiting the spread of any virus, particularly this one. Each one of us plays a pivotal role in prevention and containment. Help our communities stay ahead of it by using previously recommended strategies (and share these with your family, friends and other neighbors):
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Thank others when you see them wash their hands.
- Avoid any gathering of people; keep a social distance when possible.
- Older individuals, those with chronic diseases and immunocompromised states are more susceptible and need to avoid any gathering of people or anyone who is sick.
These practices will help you take care of yourself and will help our team care for our community. We greatly appreciate the efforts of many (too many to name by person) who are working daily to provide a safe environment to care for our families, friends and neighbors. Stay in touch with us by visiting www.nmhs.net/coronavirus for COVID-19 updates.
March 15, 2020 Update
Updated March 15, 2020
New Hospital Visitation Policies Implemented
North Mississippi Health Services is restricting visitation and congregation of people at its hospitals. At 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15, the following visitation policy is in effect at all NMHS hospitals (listed below):
- As a precautionary measure, visitors are limited to one per patient at a time.
- Our strong preference is to have one designated family member or caregiver per patient during their hospital stay in order to limit the number of visitors hospital-wide.
- Children under age 14 should NOT visit.
To help protect our patients and staff, please refrain from visiting if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection:
- Temperature of 100 degrees F or higher
- Shortness of breath
As a precautionary measure, NMMC Wellness Centers are canceling all group exercise classes, personal training sessions, children’s gymnastics classes and child care until further notice.
Due to growing concerns regarding COVID-19, HealthWorks! will be closed until further notice. This includes canceling scheduled programs (Home School, Hip Hoppers and After School) for the week of March 16-20.
Please continue to follow HealthWorks! social media accounts for programming updates. We will also be sharing resources to keep your family healthy and active during this time.
March 14, 2020 Update
Updated March 14, 2020
NMHS Nursing Home Updates
North Mississippi Health Services nursing homes are implementing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new guidelines.
Effective immediately, visitation is restricted for all visitors and non-essential groups and services with the exception of certain compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life. In such cases, visitors will be limited to specific rooms.
NMHS nursing homes are encouraging visiting by electronic means, such as FaceTime and Skype.
NMHS nursing homes include:
- Baldwyn Nursing Facility
- Marion Regional Nursing Home
- NMMC-Eupora Nursing Home
- NMMC-Pontotoc Nursing Home
Communication for North Mississippi Medical Clinics Patients
Dear Valued Patient:
Thank you for choosing us to be part of your healthcare team. Our desire is to serve our community by providing the best possible care and service. This includes our work in serving patients who are seriously ill and need care. If you have concerns about symptoms you are experiencing, please call Nurse Link at 1-800-882-6274 to speak with a member of our team, who can evaluate your situation and tell you what to do next. They might advise you to come to one of our clinics, provide assistance scheduling an appointment or give you advice about caring for yourself at home.
During this time, we are asking that patients not walk into our clinics and ask to be tested for COVID-19. Test availability is still limited and only available at specified collection locations at this time. We cannot test everyone who would like to be tested.
Our health system can only test individuals who meet current CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) clinical criteria for testing:
- Close contact with a confirmed, positive COVID-19 individual, or
- Travel from an affected area within the last 14 days and fever, shortness of breath and cough, or
- Severe symptoms with no known exposure to the virus, but only after other infections, such as influenza, have been ruled out.
We know this is a stressful time for many people in our community. Some are worried about their own health; others have concerns about distant friends or family members. Please support each other, and please support North Mississippi Health Services in its mission to continuously improve the health of the people of our region and to care for those who need us the most.
Your North Mississippi Health Services Care Team
About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC
Prevent Others from Getting Sick | CDC
March 13, 2020 Update
Updated March 13, 2020
North Mississippi Health Services is making preparations to begin restricting visitation and congregation of people at its hospitals.
North Mississippi Medical Clinics has implemented a testing center for patients identified at risk for COVID-19. The service is available by referral only and is not open to the public. The samples collected are sent to the Mississippi State Department of Health for testing. The center’s location is not being disclosed to protect patient privacy and prevent unnecessary exposure to potential COVID-19 patients.
March 2, 2020 Update
Updated March 2, 2020
North Mississippi Health Services is taking a proactive approach to educate staff and the public about COVID-19, a new strain of the coronavirus that is making international news.
“Our preparations include a multidisciplinary team, composed of physicians and other healthcare professionals, who are developing protocols and educational materials specific to COVID-19,” said Jeremy Blanchard, M.D., NMHS chief medical officer.
NMHS is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and is working closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Alabama State Department of Health.
The first wave of preparations included educating emergency medicine staff at the North Mississippi Medical Centers in Tupelo, Amory, Eupora, Iuka, Pontotoc and West Point, Mississippi, and Hamilton, Alabama as well as North Mississippi Medical Clinics and North Mississippi Medical Center clinic locations throughout the hospital’s 24-county service area.
Individuals who call 911 seeking emergent medical treatment are encouraged to alert the dispatcher and responding crews of their travel history and symptoms if they fit the criteria for COVID-19.
Preparations also include procurement of medical supplies to treat this specific patient population. Employees will be instructed to use personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately to ensure an adequate supply will be available in the event COVID-19 spreads to the NMHS service area.
“Ideally, anyone who fits the screening criteria for COVID-19 would call the hospital or doctor’s office before they arrive to help prevent the spread of infection,” Dr. Blanchard said.
The CDC does offer guidelines on how individuals can protect themselves and others. There are currently no vaccines available to protect against COVID-19. The risk of infection may be reduced by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- For information about hand washing, see CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives!
Individuals who have cold-like symptoms can help protect others by doing the following:
- Stay home while you are sick
- Avoid close contact with others
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
What to Do if You are Sick with the Coronavirus.