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Precautions, best practices in place to treat virus

On Monday morning, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services posted the latest numbers. At that time, there were 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, the closest a county away, in New Bern.

In preparation of the virus arriving in Beaufort County, Vidant Health and its community hospitals have put measures in place to for treatment and isolation of those exhibiting symptoms.

COVID-19 SYMPTOMS AND FIRST STEPS

This disease caused by a coronavirus, COVID-19, has several primary symptoms: a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath.

“We know that people are contagious when they have symptoms. Whether the virus can be spread before someone has symptoms is currently being evaluated,” the Vidant Health website states.

Symptoms generally appear two to 14 days after exposure, and most coronavirus illnesses typically cause mild to moderate respiratory illness. Most people with COVID-19 have symptoms mild enough they do not need hospitalization, but there are reports of severe illness with a small percentage resulting in death.

If a person is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, the first thing to do is to contact their primary care physician to describe the symptoms. For those who do not have health insurance or a primary care physician, there is another option.

“If patients do not have a primary care physician, they should call ahead to their local urgent care provider to describe their symptoms,” according to Pam Shadle, Vidant Beaufort Hospital’s director of marketing, community outreach and development.

Otherwise healthy individuals who think they might have the illness, should consult their doctor, consider using Vidant’s telehealth options such as VidantNow, then self-quarantine until tested.

VIDANT PRECAUTIONS

Of primary importance is preventing/slowing down the spread of COVID-19. To that end, those with coughs visiting Vidant hospitals and office settings will be given a mask to wear, which is standard practice year-round, but especially so during flu season. According to the website, if the patient has traveled to an area that is at-risk for COVID-19 or been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19, the patient will be placed into an isolation room.

A patient who fits all the criteria will be tested for other illnesses such as flu. Vidant facilities currently do not have the ability to test for COVID-19, however, tests can be requested by physicians from the Beaufort County Health Department for patients exhibiting symptoms.

Many hospitals across the country are working to create isolated environments for testing.

“Vidant is considering a range of testing options, however, our hospitals do not yet have on-site testing capabilities. We will have share more information when testing is implemented,” Shadle said.

NEXT STEPS

Those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, after testing, will be asked to return home and self-quarantine, using all precautions to prevent spreading the virus to others, including family members.

“If the patient is in need of inpatient treatment, we are able to safely transfer them to a Vidant hospital where they will receive care in an isolation room with respiratory support and other interventions as needed,” the website reads.

Vidant Medical Center in Greenville has more than 100 isolation rooms and there are additional ones located in its system of community hospitals.

Vidant is currently limiting visitors to its hospitals and clinics: only one immediate family member over the age of 16 and not exhibiting any symptoms of illness may visit a hospital or accompany a patient to an appointment.

“We are exploring video visits as an alternative to those patients with fewer symptoms who are still worried, to have their questions answered. The option of team members working from home is being explored as well,” the website states.

For more information about Vidant Health’s response to COVID-19, visit www.vidanthealth.com/COVID-19-Updates/FAQ.