A member of the Mariposa Community Health Center staffs the COVID-19 screening table at the clinic in Patagonia.

Mariposa Community Health Center says it has installed screening stations outside its facilities in Santa Cruz County in an effort to mitigate the possible spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 infections.

According to a news release issued Wednesday, MCHC said staff are using criteria established by public health authorities to screen all patients and visitors for possible exposure to COVID-19 prior to entering its facilities. The health center has locations in Nogales, Rio Rico, Patagonia and Tubac.

“MCHC takes the safety and well-being of the community and staff very seriously,” it said.

An MCHC representative also confirmed Wednesday that the health center has sent “several” samples to a commercial lab for COVID-19 testing. The person added that the turnaround time for results is three or four days, and that no results had been received to date. 

Jeff Terrell, health services director for Santa Cruz County, said he was aware that a number of local tests had been sent to private labs, but noted that medical providers are not required to inform his office about tests sent for commercial testing. 

“If there is a positive test result then it must be reported,” he said in an email, adding that Santa Cruz County still had no positive test results, and that the county had not ordered anyone quarantined.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has also begun noting on its coronavirus page that its figures on the number of people tested in in the state do not include tests performed at private labs. However, the number of positive cases it reports does include private tests.

As of Wednesday, that total was 27 positive cases – 14 confirmed at the state laboratory and 13 at commercial facilities. There were no confirmed coronavirus deaths in Arizona.

More changes at MCHC 

In addition to the screening stations, Mariposa Community Health Center said Wednesday that it is following recommended guidance and implementing other changes as well.

Effective immediately, MCHC said, it is postponing the scheduling of routine, non-urgent visits for patients 65 and older until further notice. It added that it will continue to see patients with urgent medical conditions, and prescription refills will be authorized as needed, regardless of whether patients have an appointment.

All routine, non-urgent gynecological visits will be rescheduled, but obstetrics patients will continue to be seen, the health center said.

All non-urgent or routine pediatric visits for patients 2 or older will be postponed until further notice, though visits involving newborn patients, chronic conditions or vaccines will still be scheduled.

“Additionally, other visits may remain scheduled at the discretion of the provider, or as required based on the clinical condition,” the news release said, adding that MCHC is “aggressively” working to boost its capability to provide telehealth services.

“As the COVID-19 situation is changing frequently, we will continue to provide updates,” the health center said. “We are extremely grateful for the support of our patients and staff as we all work together to make sure we are following best practices recommended by trusted sources to minimize COVID-19’s impact on our community.”

Health tips

MCHC said people who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, can call their health care provider at (520) 281-1550 for guidance and assistance.

The health center also encouraged community members to follow CDC recommendations to protect themselves, such as:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing and sneezing or use your elbow. Put used tissues in a waste basket.

• To lessen the chance of spreading viruses, avoid handshakes, especially if you have a cough or sneeze.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

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