Roosevelt General Hospital (RGH) is taking precautions to safeguard patients, visitors and staff against COVID-19, known as Coronavirus-19. Currently in the United States, there are 13 states with 80 cases and nine confirmed coronavirus deaths.
“Although at this time, there are not any confirmed cases in New Mexico, it’s important for RGH to plan and prepare for the worst case scenario,” said Kaye Green, CEO at Roosevelt General Hospital.
At the moment, hospital officials are requesting community members not visit the hospital unless they have a need to. “At the front line, registration staff are providing masks to patients presenting with respiratory illness including symptoms and/or fever. From there, these patients are seen by a provider or nurse to quickly identify the respiratory illness symptoms, fever, travel history and possible exposure and isolate these patients,” stated Jesse Gleaton-Croke, manager of Infection Control. At which time, RGH teams up with NM Department of Health to confirm or rule out COVID-19 and initiate treatment plan.
Symptoms of the virus usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms are very similar to the flu, as they are both viruses that cause respiratory illness. The difference is influenza is spread via respiratory droplets and COVID-19 is spread by breathing in shared air (airborne) of an infected person. As with all viruses, there are no antibiotics to cure the flu or coronavirus. Treatment is aimed at addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever.
Gleaton-Croke mentioned there are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy. “Be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food.” She also stated, “It’s important to stay home when you’re sick and cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and make sure to dispose of it in the trash.”
A shortage of masks has been reported nationwide and RGH is affected by this mask shortage as well. However, RGH initiated conservation strategies shortly after the virus entered the U.S. Staff issue masks to patients who present with respiratory illness symptoms and/or fever immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not currently recommend the general public use face masks. Instead CDC recommends everyday preventative actions.
The best defense healthcare workers have to protect themselves and the community against the rapid evolving illness is to mask the patient with a face mask and place the patient in a negative pressure isolation room and adhere to airborne and contact isolation precautions and wear eye protection. Professional healthcare workers are working closely with the Department of Health as the virus evolves.