DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Medical facilities in North Texas are preparing daily now for potential cases of the novel coronavirus to make it here from China.
An active team at UT Southwestern Medical Center has made it a priority for the past week, adjusting screening protocols, coordinating electronic medical records, and briefing frontline staff on how to handle possible investigative cases.
“The challenge here is the information is changing every day,” said Dr. Julie Trivedi, medical director of infection prevention at UT Southwestern.
While the risk of infection remains low, Dr. Trivedi said the unknowns of how long patients can be symptomatic and contagious, requires facilities to adjust their procedures.
A screening protocol developed during the Ebola virus spread is still in place, but is being modified for patients who might come in with a fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
Depending on a patient’s answers about where they had been and who they had been in contact with, they could be given a mask, and placed in one of more than 50 airborne isolation rooms at the medical center.
Infection prevention and infectious disease teams would then be notified and continue their evaluation of the patient. That would include testing them for more common illnesses, including influenza, which Dr. Trivedi said should still be more of a concern to the public at this point.
Most large providers around North Texas have told CBS 11 News they are adding questions related to travel to their patient screenings.
W. Stephen Love from the DFW Hospital Council said, “We feel confident we’re prepared if North Texas should have a patient with the virus.”