Parish Prepares For Impact Of Coronavirus - Here’s How To Stay Informed On A Local Level
To St. James Parish residents:
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) makes its way near and possibly to St. James Parish, let’s all remember that we are in this together and we will get through this tough time.
At this time there are many unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and the entire situation is rapidly changing and evolving, but there is no doubt the best way to get through the tough times that lay ahead is to stay CALM, stay INFORMED, and to FOLLOW the recommendations from the medical experts.
Because all things pertaining to this virus change day by day and hour by hour, it is difficult to keep readers informed of the very latest, so what I would like to do is try to direct our readers to where to find the best, most reliable and most up-to-date information for residents of St. James Parish.
In the following article you will see the most up to date information available as of Wednesday morning concerning the St. James Parish Hospital, St. James Parish School Board, St. James Parish Government and other information pertinent to our great Parish.>
Before we get to the local entities, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) strongly urges all citizens to do the following:
*Wash your hands OFTEN with soap and water for at least 20 seconds - especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
*Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
*Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
*Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care (see St. James Parish Hospital’s website if you start to feel sick).
*Put distance between yourself and other people, at least 6 feet, and this is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
*Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
St. James Parish Hospital
The following information was taken from the St. James Parish Hospital’s website, www.sjph.org, which is the best website to use to stay up-to-date on what to do should you or someone close to you start to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
The St. James Parish Hospital’s (SJPH) Coronavirus Task Force has been meeting regularly to review and implement state and national best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
St. James Parish Updated Case Count
Since presumptive positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be publicly reported, updates of the number of confirmed cases will be updated on the hospital’s website.
At this time, there have been NO reported or confirmed cases in St. James Parish.
Interim Visitation Policy
Since the COVID-19 onset in the United States, we have been preparing our facility to maintain the safety of our team, patients and community.
Due to confirmed presumptive cases in Louisiana, we have enacted an emergency task force to plan updates to hospital operations based on the latest guidelines by the CDC and Office of Public Health.
We have implemented a new visitation policy, effective immediately, which limits the number of visitors per patient, restricts the number of entry points into our facility and implements screenings for all visitors.
Visitation hours will be limited (Monday - Friday 6:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
No new Inpatient visitors will be allowed after 5:00 p.m. and only visitors age 12 and over will be permitted.
Entry points will be limited
All visitors, patients and essential vendors will be screened at designated entry points (symptom and temperature check plus questionnaire).
Visitors entering with Outpatients and ER patients will be limited to 1 per patient.
Inpatient visitation will be limited to no more than 2 visitors per day. Patients with contact
Patients with contact precautions will not be allowed visitors (exceptions apply). Visitors and patients
Visitors and patients may also be required to wear personal protective equipment.
Visitors who are sick or do not meet screening criteria will not be allowed to enter the facility.
Call Ahead Notice to Patients
Per CDC guidelines, we are asking that any patients experiencing certain respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath AND fitting certain criteria such as having been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19 or having recently traveled from an area with an ongoing spread of the virus, call ahead before visiting Urgent Care (225)-258-2040 or coming in for a test or medical appointment.
Call your Primary Care Physician’s office or Urgent Care (225-258-2040) to discuss symptoms over the phone. Our clinics have been trained to help and guide you on steps moving forward.
In the event you meet both conditions above and need to call 911 or visit an ER due to a medical emergency, notify the dispatch personnel or staff that you are being evaluated for the virus.
If possible, put on a facemask before coming into contact with medical professionals.
Steps to Prevent Illness
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Clean your hands often and avoid close contact with others.
Preparing Your Home
Practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and remind everyone in your home to do the same.
These actions are especially important for older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions:
*Avoid close contact with sick people.
*Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care (call ahead with symptoms).
*Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
*Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
*If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
*Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
*Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
Public Dining Room Closure
SJPH has temporarily closed the hospital dining room to the public. In addition, our dietary team will be implementing additional infection control protocols for the safety of patients and staff.
St. James Parish Government
The St. James Parish Government is also taking measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and readers should also follow the Parish’s website to stay up to date.
According to a press release issued by St. James Parish President Peter Dufresne’s Office, he and parish officials have been in constant communication with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals discussing the latest information on the rapid spread of COVID-19 following the President of the United States’ Declaration of National Emergency.
Out of precaution, the Parish President has declared a State of Emergency for St. James Parish.
On Tuesday, President Dufresne signed an executive order in accordance with the proclamation of the state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic declaring all employees of St. James Parish Government to perform their job duties remotely from home and remain oncall in the event employees are needed in person beginning March 18, 2020.
St. James Parish Operations Department will suspend public works routine maintenance and only perform emergency work on a call-out basis.
Out of an abundance of caution and to protect the health and safety of employees and residents, the following offices will be closed:
*St. James Parish Fitness Center
*St. James Parish Libraries
*St. James Parish Senior Centers
*St. James Parish Welcome/Tourist Center
*St. James Parish Permitting Office
*St. James Parish Utility Offices
The St. James Parish Utilities Offices would like to remind residents that online bill pay, over-the-phone utility bill payment, and the on-site drop box are continued services.
These types of payment are encouraged at this time. Call the Utilities Office at 225-562-2551 for more information.
The following have also been cancelled, closed or postponed until further notice:
*All organized (public or private) events on Parish property (Recreational Parks) are prohibited
*St. James Parish Recreational Sports are postponed
*All Parish Park Rentals between March 16, 2020 and April 18, 2020 are cancelled
*Easter Egg Hunt at the library is cancelled
*Transit services will be limited
*Keep It Moving Fitness Classes are postponed
*Department of Human Resources Emergency Assistance Program will be limited
As updates are received from the Louisiana Department of Health and the Center of Communicable Disease, they will be shared on the Parish website and social media pages.
Louisiana’s statewide 211 network is now answering calls and this network is best designed and staffed to handle the large volume of calls from Louisiana residents who are concerned and who have questions about the coronavirus.
Parish Government has also recently implemented pro-active measures within parish offices to increase disinfecting procedures and heighten awareness to employees.
President Dufresne is asking residents to remain calm and take important preventative measures to protect their health and reduce the spread of illness.
St. James Parish School District
The following information was taken from the St. James Parish School District’s website www.stjames.k12.la.us, which is one of the best to stay abreast of all the decisions being made that affects the public schools and the students.
Also, the School District will send updates with information and resources via email, text messages, robo calls, the website and social media.
Please continue to check these frequently.
Last Friday, March 13th, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a proclamation that among other actions, closes all K-12 public schools statewide effective Monday, March 16th through Monday, April 13th, as Louisiana seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the State.
With the spread of COVID-19 moving rapidly, we want to provide our students and parents with the most accurate and up-todate information that we can.
As of now, all teachers and paraprofessionals WILL NOT report to work for the remainder of this week. Central Office staff and school administrators will be on-site to answer phone calls only.
Janitorial staff will continue to perform preventive cleaning measures while students and staff are out and these cleaning tasks will include, but not limited to, classrooms, touch-points, athletic facilities, and school buses.
Lastly, all school athletics are suspended until further notice. This includes all practices and games.
All St. James Parish Public Schools Athletic Facilities are also closed until further noticed.
Please continue to check our official website and Facebook page for “Operation COVID-19” updates.
On Monday, March 16th, the Board met in special (emergency) session to adopt a resolution to declare a State of Emergency in St. James Parish and to delegate special emergency powers to Superintendent Ed Cancienne.
The Resolution suspends regular governing rules, which normally requires explicit authority from the St. James Parish School Board, and gives Superintendent Ed Cancienne the ability/authority to make decisions and enter into contracts and agreements that he determines are necessary or appropriate to run the school district.
Cancienne agreed to keep the School Board updated on all decisions and/ or agreements he makes and he will be allowed to operate the District in this manner until the Emergency Declaration is lifted.
School District To Provide Food Service
On Tuesday, March 17th, it was announced that the School District, starting Wednesday, March 18th, would offer breakfast and lunch (as long as prepared meals are available) to children 18-years old and younger.
In order to be eligible to receive a meal(s), at least one child must be present with an adult in order to receive meals.
Meals are available through stationary sites and community daily routes where meals will be delivered and dropped off at specific locations at specific times.
For a list of the Dropoff locations, please see the School District’s website and Facebook Page
The Stationary sites are:
*East Bank: Lutcher High School, Paulina Elementary and Cypress Grove Montessori and these sites will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
*West Bank: St. Louis Academy and St. James High and these sites will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The School Board and Superintendent ask that parents please be patient and to know the Administration and staff are working diligently to adapt to this ever changing and unprecedented situation.
The website says, “The School District understands that extended school closure will create a hardship for many families and that many children count on the reliable routine that a school day offers, from the classroom setting to the many people at school who know them, care for them and provide recognition of them five days a week.
Families, too, count on that routine and the knowledge that their children are cared for during the day. It allows them to tend to their work day or focus on the other pieces of life that need to be taken care of - and there are many.
Contemplating weeks without that structure and care may seem overwhelming. Please know that we are doing our very best to make decisions that will help care for all of us through this time.
St. Vincent de Paul Store & Food Pantry
St. Vincent de Paul in Lutcher would like the public to know that the store is closed until further notice but the food pantry will remain open for its normal operating hours.
The Food Pantry will open on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
If you need to speak to someone at St. Vincent’s, please call 225-869-1078 (leave a message please) or call the Pastorial Center at St. Joseph Church at 225-869-5751.
WCSF 2020 Scholarship Info
Due to the closure of Lutcher High School, the Winbush-Chriswell Scholarship Foundation’s 2020 Scholarship Applications will not be distributed to the school counselor or the churches on April 1, 2020.
Scholarship applications will be available after classes resume and an article will be published in the News Examiner-Enterprise stating when the applications will become available.