SEARCY, Ark. – While Americans continue to follow and track the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local businesses are working to get back to some sense of normalcy. While some are happy to resume their shopping and dining, others remain hesitant. But while sticking with online ordering and delivery works for restaurants and retailers, doctors at Unity Health urge patients to seek medical care and not to stay away from the hospital out of fear of the virus. Unity Health is here for you. 

“I am concerned there are more people experiencing bad outcomes from issues they are ignoring than from COVID-19,” said Dr. Roddy Lochala, Unity Health’s Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Lochala says they are seeing patients wait to come to the hospital, despite suffering symptoms, out of concern of the Coronavirus.

“Patients, tremendously sick people, are coming into the emergency rooms, suffering bad outcomes that could have been avoided with earlier intervention,” said Dr. Lochala. “We are seeing people with chest pains stay at home. Patients short of breath stay at home. Patients coming in with severe infections that are much more difficult to treat because they waited. If they had come in three to four days prior, it might make the difference between an outpatient visit and an overnight stay. In some cases, it can be  the difference between life and death.”

While concerns over the virus are understandable, Dr. Lochala wants the community to know Unity Health and other hospitals and clinics in Arkansas are doing a good job to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We have deployed prevention strategies put in place by the CDC,” said Dr. Lochala.

Among the policies Unity Health has put in place at all of their hospitals and clinics;

  • All those who enter a Unity Health facility, patients and staff included, are required to wear a mask. Those who do not have their own will be provided one.
  • Everyone who enters a Unity Health facility is put through a COVID-19 screening which includes a temperature check and questions about whether or not they have experienced any of the symptoms related to the Coronavirus and if you have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • Unity continues to maintain a no-visitor policy, directed by the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health.
  • All patients who show signs of or are suspected of having COVID-19 are identified, tested, and treated as if they have the virus before test results return.
  • As always, all staff members are maintaining good “hand hygiene” practices, including regular washing after visits with patients.
  • All patients scheduled for elective inpatient and outpatient surgery are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the surgery. All those involved in the surgery, including the surgeon and staff, must follow a similar policy.
  • Unity Health physicians are offering telemedicine to patients.

“Hospitals and clinics have done a very good job of paying attention, wearing their gear, protecting themselves and others,” said Dr. Lochala. “We are going to do all we can to protect patients as they come in, but they are potentially  hurting themselves by staying at home. There is no need for that fear in Searcy.”

Since tracking for the virus began in January of 2020, White County has had only 37 confirmed cases, out of a population of 78,753 residents.

“We urge people to not sit at home with symptoms and be afraid of COVID,” said Dr. Lochala. “Those feeling ill should at least contact their physician. Just call and ask ‘Do I need to come in?’ or ‘Can I have a telehealth or telemedicine visit?’.”

For those patients who want to know more about their symptoms or concerns before making a trip to a Unity Health facility, call your physician for a telemedicine appointment or schedule an appointment online. 

For those interested, COVID-19 testing is available and Unity Health continues to offer Those who feel they need to be tested can contact their physician to schedule an appointment. For all COVD-19 resources visit