‘Most patients would have minor symptoms’

By on March 14, 2020

OBX Hospital president talks coronavirus readiness

Outer Banks Hospital President Ronnie Sloan.

One local institution on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis is the only facility of its kind in the area, The Outer Banks Hospital (TOBH), an 18-year-old joint venture between Vidant Health and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare.

While none of the 23 novel coronavirus cases thus far reported in North Carolina have been in Dare County, the hospital is already dealing with many by-products of the concern over the pandemic. In order to get a better understanding of the hospital’s preparedness should cases emerge in the community, the Voice submitted several questions by email. The responses, which were also sent by email, come from Outer Banks Hospital President Ronnie Sloan. (The questions were edited for space.)

Q: What is the hospital’s capability when it comes to treating mild, severe and critical cases of Covid-19?

A: TOBH is prepared to screen and facilitate testing for coronavirus.  In the event that the virus becomes present in our community, most patients would have minor symptoms and we would treat those here locally and in collaboration with public health home isolation orders.  We would transfer patients who need intensive care to another facility.  The current containment orders are important and in place to avoid widespread outbreak.  In the unlikely event of a widespread outbreak, the new Executive Order from the White House does allow us to expand our bed capacity and resources should the Outer Banks Hospital be needed to meet the demand for an abundance of patients.

Q: What is the protocol for staff if someone comes to the emergency room or an urgent care center on the Outer Banks with flu-like symptoms?

A: Patients are currently presenting to our urgent cares and emergency department with flu like symptoms on a daily basis. Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak we have been requiring these patients to put on a mask to prevent the spread of flu. This helps protect other patients in the facility and our staff.  Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have been screening patients using the NCDHHS guidelines posted at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/testing-covid-19.  Patients have to meet these criteria to be tested for coronavirus. If patients meet the criteria to be tested for coronavirus, samples are sent both the state and private labs for presumptive testing.

Q: How many Covid-19 tests have been administered at the Outer Banks Hospital or in one of Vidant’s urgent care centers in Dare County? 

A: We have sent several samples for testing, and we are collaborating with the Dare County Department of Public Health on all fronts. For up to date information about local data, please use the NC Department of Health and Human Services Website at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc.

Residents can also be screened by a doctor via phone or video by using VidantNow (vidantnow.com or download the app on your smartphone).  Google is also coming out with a self-screening tool shortly. This will help alleviate some fears and also help our Healthcare facilities provide care to people who need it most.

Our Urgent Cares and Emergency Department are the right place to go for care if you think you might have the coronavirus.  Please call before you come if you suspect you may have coronavirus.  That way we can screen you over the phone and be prepared for you when you come.  Also, it is important to note that our primary care offices are not set up to send patients for testing, so please use Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.

 


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