Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness Information Learn More
Your Health. Our Heroes.
Frequently Asked Questions for Patients
Is the hospital clean and safe?
Our hospital is clean and safe -- just like it always has been! One of the core elements of properly managing infectious diseases is the cleanliness of our physical facility. We are staffed 24-hours-a-day/7-days-a-week with qualified Environmental Services personnel who are properly trained to disinfect the entire hospital for COVID-19, in addition to other infectious diseases. Processes are in place for more frequent, thorough cleaning of common areas such as entrance lobbies and waiting rooms, as well as thorough cleaning and disinfecting of each patient room.
Do you have the supplies and capacity to accommodate my procedure?
Our clinical teams conduct daily "go/no-go" meetings in which they review crucial supplies such as PPE, medications, blood, space and staffing to ensure that we have enough to comfortably care for those undergoing elective/non-urgent procedures AND accommodate our normal emergency care and potential COVID-19 patients.
Out of an abundance of caution and with the conservation of supplies in mind, we did not start with a full schedule right away. Instead, we continue to increase our capacity on a week-by-week basis. This is for your safety and ours.
Do you have enough staff to resume elective/non-urgent procedures?
Our team regularly monitors staffing levels to ensure a safe environment for all patients, providers and employees. In addition, we screen all employees daily for COVID-19 symptoms. We are confident that we have the appropriate staff and providers to resume elective and non-urgent procedures while also accommodating our normal emergency care and potential COVID-19 patients.
Will my experience be the same as in the past?
Your experience in our facility may look a little different than in the past, but this is because we have new processes and procedures in place to further protect your health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What should I expect during my procedure?
Upon arrival at the facility, you will be asked the same standard screening questions and provided with a mask (if you do not already have one). If you have your own mask or bandana to cover your mouth and nose, you can wear that.
We continue to operate under a zero-visitor protocol out of an abundance of caution, so your family member/spouse/friend/caregiver will not be permitted to enter the hospital. We will gather their contact information so we can follow up with them to provide an update after your procedure and share instructions for pick up at the same location.
You may never see another patient while you are here, and that is intentional for now. We are currently trying to minimize overlap in an effort to promote social distancing, conserve resources, and protect the safety of all of our patients and employees.
You are going to be asked COVID-19 screening questions multiple times by multiple people, up until you are admitted for your procedure. You may get tired of these questions, but we assure you they are for your health and safety, and that of our staff.
You may never see the faces of your care team members under their protective equipment. We do regret this, as the personal connections we have with our patients and community are what keep us going. However, this is an important precaution we are taking to protect you and our clinical staff.
What questions will I be asked during the screening?
The questions are part of our standard COVID-19 screening process and include asking if you have:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Whenever you are asked, please answer these screening questions honestly. If your procedure has to be postponed, it will be just that: postponed. It does NOT mean it will be canceled, and we will work with you to reschedule as soon as possible.
How will I prepare for my procedure?
If you are having a surgical procedure, though it is not a requirement, you will be strongly encouraged to practice "safer at home" behaviors for seven (7) days to minimize potential exposure prior to your procedure. This means going a step further from social distancing -- trying only to leave your home for critical needs such as groceries or going to the pharmacy. If you need to leave for an essential purpose, you must wear a mask. You also will be asked to check your temperature twice a day during this seven-day period and report any result above 100°F to your provider. Finally, you will be tested for COVID-19 prior to your procedure as an additional precaution.
If you are having an imaging procedure, you will be screened and masked, but not tested for COVID-19.
Will I be tested for COVID-19?
If you are having a surgical procedure, pulmonary function test or sleep study, you will be tested for COVID-19 prior to your procedure/test/study. Your provider will place the order for the test, and the hospital will reach out with instructions for scheduling. If your test happens to be positive, your procedure/test/study will be postponed, and you will be given instructions related to your care. If you are having an imaging procedure, you will be screened and masked, but not tested for COVID-19.
Can my family member/spouse/friend/caregiver come with me to the facility?
We are operating under a limited visitor protocol on our Athens campus and continue to operate under a zero-visitor protocol on our Etowah campus, with few exceptions.
Patients at our Athens facility will be limited to one WELL visitor/companion. All visitors must be 16 years of age or older and will be required to wear a mask and armband while in the facility. Visitors are NOT allowed for high-risk, isolation, immunocompromised or respiratory patients who are under observation or test positive for COVID-19. We will continue to screen everyone who enters our facilities for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, per CDC guidelines. Visitors/companions who do not pass the screening at entry will be asked to reschedule their visit until they are symptom-free.If you have a family member/spouse/friend/caregiver with you, he/she will not be permitted to enter the hospital.
Starr Regional Medical Center - Etowah is still operating under our zero-visitor protocol out of an abundance of caution. When you arrive for an outpatient procedure or test, you will enter through the main hospital entrance. Your family member/caregiver will be asked to wait in the car. We will gather their contact information so we can follow up with them to provide an update after your procedure and share instructions for pick up at the same location. Patients seeking treatment in our Emergency Department may be allowed one well visitor/companion. The visitor/companion must pass the screening upon entry and will be provided a mask to be worn at all times inside the facility.
What happens when I arrive for my procedure?
When you arrive at the facility, you will be asked the same standard screening questions and provided with a mask (if you do not already have one). If you have your own mask or bandana to cover your mouth and nose, you can wear that.
Will I be treated near COVID-19 patients?
We are not performing elective/non-urgent procedures on COVID-19 positive patients at this time.
All patients who test positive for an infectious disease, including COVID-19, are isolated for treatment in accordance with Tennessee Department of Health and CDC guidelines. Our hospital has a dedicated wing for treatment of patients under investigation (PUIs) and patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
If I have additional questions about my procedure, who should I contact?
If you have any questions, please call our team at (423) 745-1411.
Thank you for entrusting us with your care. It is our privilege to serve you.
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