Dr. James Cardon, Chief Clinical Integration Officer and cardiologist at Hartford HealthCare, offered an update March 23 on COVID-19 testing, personal protection equipment (PPE) donations and surge planning.
Hartford HealthCare, Dr. Cardon said, has conducted more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests; 45 have been positive; 12 people are in Hartford HealthCare hospitals; about 60 percent of the test results are outstanding.
The role of testing, he said, is: 1. To help manage the care of people tested; and 2. To understand disease epidemiology and communicability.
There is no treatment but understanding who has the virus allows Hartford HealthCare to maintain isolation and inform staff so they can use PPEs. If people do not have the virus, it decreases the need for resources and space.
Restrictions such as social distancing and working from home help decrease the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Cardon then fielded these questions from local media.
Q: Is Hartford HealthCare looking into getting the malaria drug that can reportedly help cure COVID-19?
A: The science is still evolving but we are looking to secure some supplies should it become the recommended treatment.
Q: Where is Hartford HealthCare with PPEs?
A: We have an adequate supply at this time. We’re trying to anticipate surge so we can ensure the supply. We’re also accepting donations from location businesses. For more information, people can go to www.hartfordhealthcare.org/ppe.
Q: What are your personal expectations as we approach the apex?
A: I say prepare for the worst and, hopefully, we will not go down that path. We need to look at adequate space, staff and supplies.
Q: Are societal measures adequate?
A: Social isolation does clearly have an impact. I would suggest people ask, ‘What can I do?’ You do not want to be the person to spread this illness to someone else. View your day in this way and we’d have a lower rate of rise.
Q: Where does Hartford HealthCare send test samples and how long does it take to get results?
A: We’re using state and commercial laboratories. Turnaround time has been a challenge. Optimistically, it takes 48 hours but it can be two days longer than that.
Q: What about reports that clinical staff are being told to reuse PPEs?
A: Hopefully no one does this unless they’re convinced it’s safe to do so.
Q: What is the mood among frontline providers?
A: There’s a seriousness and a complete commitment. It’s a challenging time but it’s what we signed up for. I’m overwhelmed at the response of our staff and the commitment they’ve shown. The death of our first patient was difficult because it really brought this home.
Q: How many calls are you getting to the hotline? Are there changes to visitor restrictions?
A: The Clinical Command Center is fielding 2,000 to 3,000 calls per day. It’s been a very useful resource. As for visitor restrictions, we continue to evaluate the risk to patients, staff and visitors as the situation warrants. It’s pretty fluid.
Q: What about homecare?
A: We have adequate protection supplies for all colleagues providing care.
Q: Can you get COVID-19 twice?
A: There’s been a question of immunity. The science is not clear. Usually, there’s immunity for some period of time after you have a virus but we don’t know in this case.
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