Fort Wayne’s two primary hospital systems, Parkview Health and Lutheran Health Network, both say they are ready if the COVID-19 virus makes its way here, say their respective spokeswomen.
Both systems are following protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are using the CDC screening guidelines for symptoms and risk factors, monitoring as these are updated, and have a response plan to protect patients and our staff should it be needed,” said Kara Stevenson of Lutheran Health Network.
For example, patients at Lutheran are being screened for risk factors, including fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness. If a person exhibiting those symptoms recently traveled to an area with a high incidence of COVID-19 cases, or if they were in contact with someone who traveled to an area of concern, the patient will be given a mask and isolated in a private room or separate area away from other people. The attending physician will wear protective equipment, including a gown and mask.
“If a suspected COVID-19 case is identified, we will contact the health department to coordinate testing and work with them to get the sample to a state or CDC lab,” Stevenson said. “All testing is currently being done at state or CDC labs.”
Like Lutheran, Parkview has no testing kits. “The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has testing kits for COVID-19 and is handling testing for the state at this time,” said Tami Brigle of Parkview.
“Parkview is working closely with the Allen County Department of Health, Indiana State Department of Health and other agencies to prepare for a potential COVID-19 exposure and respond appropriately,” Brigle said.
Health-care workers must protect themselves from viruses such as COVID-19 and influenza, but how much personal protective equipment they use is determined on a case-by-case basis. Brigle said staff treating low-risk patients might only wear a mask and eye protection. “Those treating high-risk patients may be seen using gowns, gloves, eye protection and a fit-tested N-95 respirator mask.”
A patient at Parkview with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 would be moved to an isolation room, which includes separate air filtration systems that prevent the spread of the disease, Brigle said.
If someone would walk in to the Parkview ER thinking they have COVID-19 the protocol at Parkview hospitals is to ask screening questions to identify high-risk patients, such as those who recently traveled to a high-risk area or have been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19.
As of March 6, Parkview has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19. “Any testing and confirmation would come from the Indiana State Department of Health, which would be responsible for reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Brigle said.