Local hospitals prepare for coronavirus spread

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, healthcare officials in southwest Virginia are preparing for potential cases.

“We are likely to see more cases in the United States,” says Dr. Anthony Baffoe-Bonne, Infectious Disease Specialist and Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Carilion Clinic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus cases in the United States are expected to grow in the next weeks and months to come.

On Feb. 26, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) confirmed it’s investigating a possible case of coronavirus in southwest Virginia. Another possible case is already under investigation in Northern Virginia.

A total of six cases have been investigated across Virginia in recent months, though all have tested negative for coronavirus.

To prevent the spread, Carilion says they are working closely with local health departments, VDH, and the CDC to monitor any potential patients in the area.

Should a patient test positive for the disease, officials say they would be notified.

“With that notification, we are able to help navigate the patient’s experience in a well-choreographed manner that decreases the exposure to other patients as well as helps provide us to anticipate the arrival of the patient and, therefore, we are able to use appropriate PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] throughout the care of the patient,” says Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie.

Carilion Clinic also has an incident management team used regularly for any disruptions that come about. Comprised of people from various departments and specialties, the group is a standard for the healthcare system.

Discussions include looking at community needs, analyzing current materials they possess, and establishing the best protocols for ideal patient care.

After the first case of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, the hospital has set up enhanced screening procedures to identify patients who visit their clinics with flu-like symptoms.

Some precautions include organizing an electronic medical record database, where healthcare officials can write-up patients who experience certain symptoms like cough and shortness of breath.

Certain patients are also asked to take travel questionnaires with topics on travel history to affected areas by themselves or people close to them.

On Jan. 30, the CDC confirmed that coronavirus has spread between two people in the United States, representing the first instance of person-to-person transmission.

Carilion officials say those cases will likely increase.

“There are just 60 cases in the United States. Being aware of the disease, being aware that simple actions can help decrease these person-to-person transmissions, is very important,” says Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie.

Some of those simple actions include washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, and getting the flu shot.

Carilion says their top priority is the safety of patients, staff, and their community.

Staff at LewisGale Regional Health System is also in regular contact with the Virginia Department of Health and other healthcare providers.

“LewisGale Regional Health System uses a ‘First Point of Contact’ admission assessment to screen all patients for signs of active infections (fever, cough, sore throat, etc.) as well as any recent international travel. Additionally, we’ve adopted CDC guidelines for Evaluating and Reporting patients for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). At the same time, our Infection Prevention team is communicating regularly with the Virginia Department of Health, other Regional Healthcare Facilities, and our Corporate partners. And at all LewisGale facilities, we’ve developed and posted signage to aid patients and staff in recognizing potentially infectious individuals.”

Nancy May
Lewis Gale Regional Health System

For more information about coronavirus and current safety recommendations, click here.

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