The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging everyone to prepare for the arrival of the virus that is responsible for a respiratory disease called Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.
At Swope Health, you will see that we have initiated our public health emergency procedures. You will find signs at our facility entrances to alert you to the steps we are taking to identify potential infection and protect the community from the spread of the virus.
Those steps include screening all patients at point of entry. This entails asking travel screening questions and also a history of possible exposure. If an individual answers positive to either question, they are isolated from others and a more thorough assessment will take place.
“This is our contribution to halting the spread of the disease,” said Julie Richards, Director of Infection Prevention and Control for Swope Health. “It’s our responsibility to be on the watch for COVID-19 and to help prevent additional infections.”
Where did COVID-19 come from?
The COVID-19 virus originated in the city of Hubei in the Wuhan province of China. It is known to be part of the family of Coronaviruses that includes viruses responsible for the Middle Eastern Virus Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The CDC reports that the COVID-19 virus is believed to have originated in bats. The earliest patients in China have been linked a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread now is reported in China and other countries, including in the United States.
The COVID-19 virus, as of March 3, has been identified in 10 states but not in Missouri or Kansas.
As part of Swope Health’s public health emergency procedures, our providers work closely with the Kansas City Health Department and Missouri and Kansas health officials. The screenings help with early identification of any potential illness, and a positive screening triggers several additional steps to protect providers, associates and other patients.
Swope Health has readied personal protective equipment kits, containing face masks, gloves and gowns, as well as hand sanitizers and related tools, Julie noted. Swope Health associates have been trained on screening and procedures for potential next steps if a person may be at risk of the COVID-19 virus.
While there is no vaccine to prevent the virus, there are ways to prevent spreading this virus and other respiratory viruses, Julie said. The best prevention is frequent hand hygiene and avoiding contact with anyone who is sick. That also means that if you are sick, you should stay at home to prevent spreading your illness to anyone at work or in the community.
If you cough, use a tissue or cover your cough with your sleeve or into your elbow. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
“The No. 1 step you can take is a simple one – wash your hands,” Julie said. “Make an extra effort to wash your hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.”
Do you have questions about COVID-19? Here are some references:
- CDC’s Coronavirus website includes detailed updates about prevention and tracking with frequent updates.
- The World Health Organization’s website includes details on the research into a vaccine and its spread, as well as tips for prevention.
- The Association for Professionals in Prevention and Control website includes a Fact Sheet.
You can also leave us a comment below, or if you are visiting Swope Health, talk with your provider.