How NJ hospitals will deal with possible coronavirus outbreak
New Jersey now has two presumptive positive of the novel coronavirus, both in Bergen County, but health officials are warning that more cases are being investigated and an outbreak is possible in the coming weeks and months.
During a news conference on Thursday, state Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said if you suspect you might have novel coronavirus, don’t just show up at your doctor’s office or the hospital.
“If you feel sick, call your health care provider. They’ll direct you to the emergency room. Call the emergency room because the emergency room wants to know you’re coming through that front door," she said.
Hackensack Meridian Health Regional President Ihor Sawczuk said when there’s a suspected case of novel coronavirus, “there are screening protocols, there are questions that are asked to determine if the patient is a positive screener. If so, then there are precautions taken for the patient and for the team members."
He said that means "isolation of the patient, use of dedicated equipment, and appropriate personal protective equipment."
Sawczuk noted that “we’ve been drilling for biohazards since Ebola, and we’re well aware of what it takes to manage these types of patients.”
He said all personnel working in isolation rooms get very specific training as well as on-going training to ensure they’re able to maintain safety while serving the needs of patients.
There are about 700 negative-pressure rooms in state hospitals that can be used to isolate patients. Negative-pressure rooms circulate air inside the room and do not share the regular hospital ventilation system.
The commissioner urged members of the public to not panic about novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Most people who develop fever and respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and coughing will most likely have the flu or a cold.
“While any case in our state is concerning, most New Jersey residents are still at every low risk of contracting COVID-19," Persichilli said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com