Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness Information

Our hospital is committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors. We are continuing to monitor the evolving situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are taking the necessary steps to ensure we are fully prepared to care for patients, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in partnership with our local and state health departments.

Below are a number of resources to help educate you and your family on COVID-19. For more information on the virus, please contact the Tennessee Department of Health.

Important Links:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Canceled Classes & Rescheduled Services:

Updated March 26, 2020

  • Healthy Community Group, suspended until further notice (fourth Wednesday of each month at noon)
  • Diabetes Support Group (Thursday, March 26, 6 p.m.)
  • Smoking Cessation Support Group, suspended until further notice (first Thursday of each month)
  • Diabetes Education Class

Starr Regional Medical Center has made the difficult, but necessary, to postpone/reschedule the following services:

Visitor Guidelines for all facilities:

► Effective Thursday, April 2, 2020, at 6 a.m., Starr Regional Medical Center will screen everyone - patients, providers and employees - who enters our facilities for COVID-19 risk factors with a temperature check, as well as questions regarding respiratory symptoms, exposure, and/or travel history. This screening process will be in place at all outpatient and physician practice locations as well.  

We moved to a zero-visitor protocol effective at noon, Monday, March 23. There will be no visitors allowed at either of our facilities with few exceptions. We understand the concern this may cause among family members and the important role family plays in the care of our patients. We will approve exceptions to this policy on a case-by-case basis. One well visitor will be allowed for pediatric, obstetric and surgical patients. Other exceptions include end-of-life care, patients who are critically ill and impending transfer to another facility, and patients with special needs.

If you have specific questions or concerns about this policy, please ask to speak with a member of our administration team and we will work with you to create a plan that is best for the patient. Please read a letter from John McLain, chief executive officer of Starr Regional Medical Center, regarding our visitation policy.

We know that these increased precautions may seem concerning. We do not want to cause alarm – but we do want to send a clear message to our community that we are prepared, responding appropriately and are committed to protecting the well-being of our patients, employees and community.

These increased safety measures do NOT mean that you cannot access the hospital or your providers. Please seek medical care as needed. And if you are concerned you may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call your provider in advance of going to his or her office. Of course, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

► We have limited entry points to our facilities. On the Athens campus, the main entrance and the Emergency Department entrance will be the only entrances available. The outpatient services entrance will be closed and patients visiting the hospital for necessary outpatient services are asked to enter through the main entrance. Sick patients seeking medical care, including testing, must enter through the Emergency Department.

The Etowah campus entrances will be limited to the main entrance and Emergency Department as well. After 4 p.m., the main entrance will transition completely to the Emergency Department.

Additionally, all common areas on both campuses, including the Cafeteria, Chapel, Gift Shop and main lobby, will continue to be closed to the public and all visitors. It will be available to employees and medical staff only. 

► Starr Regional Health & Rehabilitation and our Senior Care program, both located on the Etowah campus, elected to restrict all visitation effective March 12, 2020. Exceptions, only after screening has taken place, will include family of residents at end of life, hospice caregivers, home health care agencies and other necessary caregivers. We understand that connecting with family members is incredibly important, and there are a variety of other ways you might consider connecting with them, including telephone, email, text, or through Google Duo or Facebook. Please call Starr Regional Health & Rehabilitation at (423) 507-3659 with any questions or for information on how to contact a friend or family member using Google Duo or Facebook.

Additional Resources:

► Tennessee Department of Health's COVID-19 Public Information Number: 877-857-2945, available 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. CST daily 

► Chattanooga - Hamilton County Coronavirus Hotline: 423-209-8383, available 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST Monday through Friday

► Statement regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID–19)

Starr Regional Medical Center is committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors. We are continuing to work closely with the Tennessee Department of Health and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure our hospital is prepared with the appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID–19). Additionally, we are reviewing our facility’s robust emergency operations plan and proactively completing a number of preparation checklists out of an abundance of caution.

Starr Regional Medical Center, including Starr Regional Health & Rehabilitation - our skilled nursing and long-term care facility, has taken the following measures to prepare, in accordance with CDC guidelines:

  • All employees, patients and visitors are screened with a temperature check, and questions regarding possible symptoms and recent travel history prior to entrance to the facility.
  • Personal protective equipment is available, including face masks and eye protection, for all employees and patients. All employees will wear a face mask in all patient care areas.
  • Hand hygiene products are easily accessible throughout the facility.
  • Patients with suspected Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) will wear a face mask and be transferred to a private room, where the door will remain closed.
  • Infection Prevention, Administration, and the Tennessee Department of Health will be notified immediately of any patient with suspected Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Entry points to our facilities have been limited to the main entrance and Emergency Department for employees, patients and visitors.
  • A Zero-Visitor protocol has been implemented at all facilities.

Importantly, many of these measures are standard operating protocols that are in place year-round to help ensure the health and well-being of everyone who enters our hospital.

We want to assure our community that our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of viruses and infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. For more information, contact the Tennessee Department of Health or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at