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Baylor Scott & White ready for coronavirus cases

Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 20:22:06-05

TEMPLE, TX — The doctors and nurses at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple say they're more than ready for the coronavirus should a local case surface.

Dr. Karen Brust, an infectious diseases specialist, outlined the hospital's preparedness plan on Wednesday. She said if a patient arrived at the emergency room exhibiting symptoms, step one is to pinpoint their history.

"Identification is critical. The timing is critical. We would like the community to tell us if they've traveled anywhere that they could pick up the coronavirus," said Brust.

The hospital has a series of Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms, AIIRs, where a suspected patient would immediately be housed.

"[It's] airborne isolation, which is basically management of air in the room, and then we try to limit the amount of people in and out of that room," said Brust.

The doctor wouldn't specify how many isolation rooms are available, but said their facilities could certainly handle multiple cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has issued a nine element plan for US hospitals to follow given that more cases are expected.

"It’s not so much a question of when this will happen, but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Anne Shcuchat, a CDC doctor, said this week.

The guidelines walk hospitals through isolation protocol, transmission prevention, cleaning efforts, and visitor limitations.

Brust said their facilities regularly prepare for scenarios like the coronavirus, and always mandate that staff approach possible patients with care.

"We use personal protective equipment, gowns, gloves, and goggles to protect the eyes," said Brust.

Last month, a Baylor student suspected of having the virus actually tested negative.

Brust stressed that the majority of patients recover from the illness with a recovery period of one to two weeks.

McLennan County health officials, as well as those in Brazos County, are encouraging folks to be prepared for the virus.

They stress that the public should wash their hands, stay away from face masks unless someone already feels sick, and realize that the death rate is extremely low.