If you’re feeling stress since the World Health Organization’s dec­laration of a global pandem­ic, the resulting imposed confine­ment and a world turned upside-­down by invisible germs trans­mit­ted person-to-person, here are three calming words: Hardin Mem­or­ial Health.

The hospital, its medical group and team of professionals are central to health care in this 10-county region. As the reality of this crisis has unfolded in recent weeks, HMH repeatedly has reinforced our community’s con­fi­dence in the skill and ability available here.

Consider last week’s report about HMH reaching out to the respiratory care education program at Elizabethtown Com­mun­ity and Technical College. Considering the potential stress on hospital facilities and equipment in the event of a significant outbreak locally, making arrangements to access 50 hospital beds and four ventilators used at the college makes perfect sense.

These discussions were initiated by HMH, not last week, but proactively before any local school had closed and long before most people in Hardin County had heard about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“I was very impressed with Hardin Memorial because they are a step ahead of this,” said Martha Glutting, an ECTC professor and associate degree nursing program coordinator.

Moreover, the hospital has mobilized new resources for a concerned public in a timely manner.

The HMH Medical Group introduced a telephone hotline staffed by nurses to field questions and direct patients to the appropriate level of care based on the latest Centers for Disease Control standards. Information and answers are the best way to calm anxiety, particularly for people with seasonal allergies or flu-like symptoms who might be apprehensive about visiting their doctor’s office for fear of being exposed to the new virus.

The hotline number is 270-979-7777 and it is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It should be limited to calls specifically about COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Going one step further, HMH announced a freestanding drive-thru respiratory care center a few days later. Located behind the hospital complex at 1004 Woodland Drive in Eliza­beth­town, it also operates from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Established to provide quality care without overwhelming the hospital or medical practitioners, people with a referral by a physician or the symptom hotline is required for this same-day service. Without leaving the comfort of their vehicle, patients can be tested, evaluated and see a doctor or advanced practice clinician. The pop-up clinic response to this unfortunate situation.

The hospital has taken other precautionary steps such as postponing elective surgery and modifying visitation policies.

Joining forces with the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, hospital leaders repeatedly have stepped up publicly to address concerns, explain best practices and generally working to keep the community well informed. Their confidence and knowledge is quite reassuring.

As an example, here’s what Sharon Wright, HMH’s vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, said shortly after it was announced Friday that the hospital has its first COVID-19 patient.

“Our clinical teams have been preparing for the possibility of treating a COVID-19 patient since January, using methods recommended by the CDC,” Wright said. “HMH is in the business of caring for people with all kinds of illness. It’s what our team trains for, prepares for and does every day.”

You can count on the CDC and WHO for reliable information and insight about the coronavirus. But when it comes down to actual care and expert treatment, the three letters which matter most here are HMH.

This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board

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