GREENSBORO, N.C. — While no one has tested positive in the triad for COVID-19, Cone Health has a plan in place just in case.
“In the case of the coronavirus, because there’s so much unknown about it, our staff are wearing the masks, the gowns, the gloves. They’re wearing everything as a precaution,” said Cherrie Speagle, a registered nurse at Cone Health.
Cone Health’s protocol for contagious illnesses is to cover up staff and send patients to a special room to stop the spread of germs.
“All of our negative pressure rooms are exhausted to the outside so that any germs will hit the outside, the sunshine, the daylight. It will help to kill the germs quicker that way,” Speagle said.
Speagle specializes in preventing contagious infections. She says COVID-19 can start with flu-like symptoms such as a fever or a cough.
“Coronavirus has several different levels. The one that’s the most severe is the one with pneumonia,” Speagle said.
If a patient is suspected to have the virus, they’ll immediately be placed in a negative pressure room while staff work to get state approval to test that person.
“In North Carolina at this point, we have to go through the health department to get state testing,” Speagle said.
People are tested three different ways to confirm they have COVID-19 — with a nasal swab, a blood test and a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia.
If the tests determine the patient has the virus, people with serious cases may have to stay in the hospital.
People with milder symptoms may be allowed to go into isolation at home for two weeks.
That’s how long researchers believe it could take for symptoms to start showing up after exposure to the virus.
But doctors stress, for a person who is healthy, there’s no need to stay home.
“We don’t want people to be afraid to go out and do their normal daily activities. Just be cautious and be aware,” Speagle said.
She said the best way to be cautious is to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.