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CHS Prepared to Treat Cases of Coronavirus

January 29th, 2020

Hospitals and physician practices across Catholic Health Services (CHS) are prepared to diagnose and treat patients showing symptoms of coronavirus while also taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease.

CHS’s Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO, MBA, FACEP, CHCQM, said the health system is following precautionary guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding coronavirus.

“At all CHS hospitals, we are actively screening patients in our emergency departments, asking if the patient had recently traveled from China and looking for signs and symptoms of the virus. Symptoms include fever and respiratory issues,” he said. “Also, we are taking these precautionary steps at our owned physician practices.”

While symptoms of coronavirus are similar to influenza, Dr. O’Shaughnessy stressed that the additional step CHS is now taking–asking patients if they or someone close to them traveled from China during the past 14 days–is vital to properly screen and identify those who may have contracted the disease. A patient showing symptoms of coronavirus and answering in the affirmative to the travel question will be isolated to prevent cross-contamination and allow for a proper diagnosis, he added. 

Dr. O’Shaughnessy explained that CHS will also draw on past experiences with communicative diseases such as MRSA. “With MRSA, we provided classes and trained personnel in the latest protocols to handle any patients with the disease,” he said. “Also, we checked our inventory levels to ensure we had the proper amount of supplies needed. When a patient was identified, our emergency department leaders moved quickly to isolate the patient and provide staff with the proper protections.”

The CDC said there are several preventative measures people can take to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Those who have traveled from China or other parts of Asia over the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care. The CDC suggests calling the health care provider before visiting the office to discuss symptoms and recent travel.

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