SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – LewisGale Regional Health System is implementing new procedures as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to increase throughout Virginia.

On March 18, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 77 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Commonwealth. The breakdown of cases includes 14 in the central region, 19 in the eastern region, 39 in the northeast region, and 5 in the northwest region.

There are still no cases in Southwest Virginia.

“The situation here is ever-changing,” says Lance Jones, Market President for LewisGale Regional Health.

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, Jones says LewisGale remains in constant communication with their parent company, HCA Healthcare, as well as health agencies like the VDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

By closely monitoring the situation, the healthcare system has been exploring new guidelines that directly impact their patients and staff.

To reduce the spread of respiratory illness like the coronavirus, LewisGale announced all facilities will implement visitor restrictions starting Monday, March 16.

Officials say they have also started pre-screening visitors using standard pre-screening questions.

Jones says there are procedures in place for patients who may be potential risk factors for the disease.

“Individuals on a screening process that are flagged, are automatically masked. They are directed into either a negative pressure room to control airflow or isolation and then our physicians work through that testing process. Obviously, while we wait on results to be returned to us either from the state or from a private lab, those folks are isolated in the facility at that point in time,” says Jones.

Officials say they have already tested a certain amount of patients and are currently waiting on those results, which can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days.

“We rely on our physicians and their clinical judgment following the screening, working in partnership with VDH, but we have tests currently for patients that will either go to VDH once they have approved or they’ll go to a private lab and facilitate testing there,” says Jones.

Along with new guidelines, LewisGale says they are also making sure they have essential supplies at all of their facilities.

“We need more than ever, to make sure that the critical availability of supplies is there for al healthcare workers,” says Jones. “Part of our scale as a company means we’re moving supplies around the country now to support all of our hospitals and that’s been very, very pertinent to us.”

The healthcare system also partners with local EMS providers to ensure their safety as well.

While the future is still unknown, Jones says that they will continue to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and ensures that their facilities have more than enough resources to effectively care for patients and staff.