NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Preparations to treat coronavirus patients are in place and continue to evolve at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Late Friday afternoon infection prevention physicians at the hospital met to further discuss plans for potential coronavirus patients.
“We are getting new information every day,” Doctor William Schaffner told News 2.
While they haven’t seen any suspected coronavirus patients yet, he says he feels confident that his team is ready to treat patients.
“Should the patient show up in our emergency room we are prepared to deal with it,” he stated.
Just this week the hospital changed the automated pop-up alerts on their screening process to address coronavirus.
“We screen every patient every day regardless of if there’s an epidemic or not,” Dr. Corey Slovis told News 2.
He says among the questions of symptoms are two key questions.
“Have you traveled outside of the United States? Where? Have you been with someone whose traveled outside the United States?”
If the high priority alert pops up, the patient is given a mask and placed in a negative pressure room.
“The air going into that room comes from outside and is vented outward through special filters rather than having them contaminate everyone around them,” Dr. Slovis explained.
Infection prevention is then notified to take over from there. It’s a procedure they have had to follow before with SARS and ebola.
“We like to think we are ready for most things. We are on alert, but this is not at the epidemic proportion where we need to have suits readily available to put on as we did with Ebola. We could get them quickly, but they are not readily available to go into full preventive mode for any transmission,” said Dr. Slovis.
Dr. Schaffner says while the new coronavirus outbreak should be taken seriously, the flu is more of a concern here at home.
“Symptoms are entirely similar to influenza you would have fever more or less, cough feeling poorly difficulty breathing those kinds of things, typical upper respiratory infection but it’s important to put this into a little bit of context. This is a new virus but there’s an old friend, maybe an old enemy that’s out there causing hospitalizations in middle Tennessee and across the country right now that will cause I’m afraid by the end of the season many thousands of deaths in this country and that’s influenza,” said Schaffner.