St. Joseph’s/Candler is prepared for COVID-19: What the public needs to know

Mar 4, 2020

St. Joseph’s/Candler is prepared for and is actively monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Our infectious disease doctors and nurses are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Georgia Department of Public Health.

We are following the most current guidelines from those agencies in order to treat any potential cases of COVID-19 and to protect other patients in our facilities.

The circumstances with COVID-19 are constantly evolving, and St. Joseph’s/Candler will continue to monitor and consult with the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health to make changes that are appropriate for the protection of our patients and co-workers.  

Currently, we are screening patients for COVID-19 by:

  • Asking about recent travel history or contact with people who might have travelled to countries with sustained COVID-19 transmission.
  • Determining if symptoms include
    • Fever
    • Cough (lower respiratory illness)
    • Shortness of breath

All testing for COVID-19 will be ordered by the Georgia Department of Public Health or CDC.


At St. Joseph’s/Candler, our co-workers are prepared year round to handle infectious diseases, from tuberculosis to new ones like the coronavirus.

Currently we have visitor restrictions in place that prohibit visitors with flu-like symptoms from visiting our facilities.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. It’s officially named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes has been named coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short.

As of today, according to the CDC, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus. This virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the United States. However, it is important to note that current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.

At both St. Joseph’s Hospital and Candler Hospital, we stock personal protective equipment (PPE) – head covers, masks, eye protection, gowns, gloves, coveralls and disposable boots – specifically designated to treat patients suspected of having an infectious virus. The emergency room staff is trained regularly on guidelines for putting on and taking off PPE.

There are 20 negative pressure rooms between the two hospitals that are always prepared for use. These rooms are intended for patient isolation and are designed so that when the door opens air goes inside the room and not out.

How we determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19

Healthcare professionals at our hospitals, outpatient facilities, urgent care and primary care locations will ask patients where they have recently travelled.

Physical symptoms include:

  • fatigue  
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

However, COVID-19 may also be asymptomatic, so it’s important to inform your healthcare providers of your travel history or if you’ve come in contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19 or who has traveled in an area with confirmed cases.

What you can do

For the general population, your risk of getting COVID-19 is low. Those at high-risk are the elderly, very young and those with a compromised or weakened immune system – as is the case with many infectious diseases such as the flu.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. There are simple, everyday preventative steps you can take to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If you are sick, stay home
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Clean frequently-touched surfaces regularly, such as door knobs, light switches, toys and other items
  • Always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the sleeve of your arm
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, call your healthcare provider who can make recommendations as to stay home or go to the emergency department. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

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