Two Coronavirus Care Clinics Opening as Early as Monday

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Possibly by Monday morning, two new care locations will be open for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic – one in Mahoning County and the other in Trumbull County.

Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health-Youngstown, made the announcement as a press conference of the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors Association Friday morning at the Covelli Centre.

“The point of those is having more access for care,” he said. “Details of who should go to those sites and what services will be offered there will be forthcoming when we have more information.”

For now, residents who are concerned should first call their physician for guidance.

“The emergency rooms are always busy, but we need to keep those for patients who need to be in the emergency room,” he said. “Labs are getting certified through the government for testing. And that is continuing to evolve.”

Drive-up clinics “may happen,” he said, but it depends on the availability of buildings. “Mercy is continuing to look at all of our options,” he said, adding that no discussions have been made to use the closed Northside Hospital on Gypsy Lane, but that wasn’t off the table.

Dr. James Kravec speaks at the press conference at the Covelli Centre.

Currently, Mercy hospitals have enough rebreather masks, ventilators and medications to help people who need it, Kravec said. However, testing kits are limited in the state and, for the time being, residents can only be tested if they have symptoms, he said. Kravec couldn’t give a specific number of available tests for coronavirus.

With regard to treatment, he said certain antiviral medications “may be used in the early development in the treatment of [COVID-19],” and spoke with the infectious disease physicians at Mercy Health earlier Friday about treatment possibilities, he said.

As far as generic drugs go, as more individuals come down with the flu and strep throat, they will be prescribed generic drugs. The supply of those drugs is “something we need to keep a close eye on,” he said.

Plans to deal with coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it spreads have been in development since January, Kravec said. Coordinated efforts between health care providers and cities are underway to convert brick-and-mortar buildings for patient evaluation for respiratory illnesses. The system has worked closely with health systems in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties as well as the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The yellow tent erected Thursday at the entrance to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital was part of the plan to care for increased volumes of patients with respiratory illnesses and influenza.

“You may continue to see other changes like that at our hospitals and office-based practices,” Kravec said.

Other than the male patient being treated at Mercy Health’s St. Joseph Warren Hospital, “we do not have anyone in the city of Youngstown or in surrounding areas under investigation for coronavirus,” confirmed Erin Bishop, health commissioner for the city of Youngstown.

Echoing recommendations made on Thursday by Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, Bishop advised residents to stay home as much as possible to limit contacts with others and to minimize the spread of coronavirus.

The city’s vital statistics division isn’t closing down, but will be limiting the number of in-person visitors, Bishop said. For those needing a birth certificate, Bishop recommended purchasing one online at VitalChek.com/birth-certificates, or by contacting the office at 330 742 8212 and sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to Health Department – Vital Statistics Division, 9 West Front Street, Suite 200, Youngstown OH 44503.

City mayors advised the media that they are following the guidelines established in the order signed yesterday by Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton, said Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Youngstown.

“If you’re feeling sick, stay home,” Brown said. “I think we’re going to learn a lot more about how to become different in our lifestyle that we typically don’t do.”

Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown speaks at mayors press conference.

Residents will need to learn that public meetings may be canceled or hosted via conference call or online video conferences, like Zoom, he said. Throughout the pandemic, the mayors stated that all meetings with cabinets will be held via video conferencing and access to city halls will be limited.

In Youngstown, in-person water bill payments will be suspended for at least the next 30 days, Brown said. Payments can still be made online or over the phone. For permits, he encouraged residents to call the office before they come in to see if they can handle it online. There will also be limited contact at courts.

“This is a lot more about us doing things now than not waiting for later on for issues to come to a greater head for this community,” Brown said.

The city of Warren will also suspend in-person water payments, Mayor Doug Frankllin added.

“This virus, COVID-19, doesn’t respect or limit itself to political jurisdictions or cities or communities,” Franklin said. “We’re working across those jurisdictions to work together and to speak with one voice as mayors.”

Through the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors Association, Franklin and other mayors are cooperating to provide each other with additional services when needed, particularly with city employees and safety departments.

As emphasized by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted during Thursday’s press conference, elections are still being held throughout the Mahoning Valley, though the mayors did encourage residents to vote early if possible. Area boards of election are looking for poll workers.

Check back to BusinessJournalDaily.com for continuing coverage of the coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.