Q & A with Dr. Parnell – What you need to know

Published 8:07 am Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A message to the community from Dr. Parnell at the hospital….


Panola Medical Center and its staff are here to provide the people of Panola County and the surrounding counties the best quality care.  With the worldwide pandemic caused by the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) resulting in the disease now known as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease – 2019), the medical staff wanted to provide some information that we thought would be both useful and timely as we prepare for the virus to make its way here.  The virus has now been documented in all 50 states.  As of March 17, 2020, there are currently 12 reported confirmed cases in the state of Mississippi.

What is a pandemic?  This simply means that there is a global outbreak of a specific disease, in this case, COVID-19.

What is the current risk for me?  According to the CDC, the immediate risk of exposure to this virus is still low for the majority of Americans, however, as the virus continues to spread, this risk will increase.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?  The most common and prevalent symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, and shortness of breath and these symptoms are thought to appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.  The symptoms vary dramatically from patient to patient.  Illnesses in individuals have varied from no reported symptoms to severe respiratory symptoms, including death.  Current analysis of the disease indicates that older individuals (>65 years) and people of all ages that have severe chronic medical problems such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes appear to have a higher than normal chance of getting severe disease symptoms.

What do I do if I have these symptoms and think I might be infected with the virus?  You should call your primary care physician on the phone.  They should be able to decide whether you need to be tested or not.  You should not go to your doctor’s office without calling first.  Importantly, there is no treatment for COVID-19 itself, only treatments for symptoms such as fever or cough.  Antibiotics are not needed and do not work for viral infections.  If your physician determines that you need to be tested, they will arrange the testing for you.  If you don’t have a physician, you can call the hospital and we can determine if you need to be tested and arrange the testing for you.

How do I know if I need to go to the hospital for treatment?  If you have symptoms, you should only leave your house if your physician instructs you to do so or if you have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath, ongoing continuous pain or pressure in your chest, new onset of confusion or the inability to arouse someone with symptoms, or bluish lips or face.  This list does not include all severe symptoms, if you feel like you are having severe symptoms you should consult your doctor.

I am positive for COVID-19, now what?  Stay at home with mild to moderate symptoms, almost all people who get the disease with mild symptoms are able to recover at home.  Do not leave your home except to seek medical care.  Do not go to any public areas.  Stay away from other people as much as possible, in a “sick room” in your home.  You should use a separate bathroom from others in the house if this is available.  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue in a lined trash can.  Then, immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.

If I have been at home because of COVID-19, when can I leave?  You can end your quarantine when all of the following have occurred, you have had no fever for 3 days (72 hours) without the use of medication to lower fevers, other symptoms have improved, 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

The physicians, nurses, and staff at Panola Medical Center want the community to be informed and prepared for this pandemic to help us prevent an overwhelming number of patients acquiring the disease at one time.  By following these recommendations, we can all help prevent rapid spread of the disease through the community so that patients who need treatment may obtain it.  If you need further information, or you need to contact us about the possibility of having COVID-19, please call us at 662-934-7259.


Donald H. Parnell, Jr., M.D.

Chief of Staff, Panola Medical Center