FAIRFAX, Va. — The outbreak has local hospitals in the area taking steps to make sure they are prepared.
The team at Inova Health System put together a group immediately following the outbreak to discuss the best way to be prepared. The group, made up of staff from infection prevention, laboratory, nursing, administration and emergency preparedness, continues to meet every week to review the latest on the virus or if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changes recommendations.
Currently, there is a facility available at all five Inova campuses as well as equipment ready to keep patients and health care providers safe.
Sujata Ambardar is an infectious disease doctor who started working at Inova more than 20 years ago. She said if they believe a patient has the virus, they are prepared to put them in airborne isolation.
Care providers would also be ready with specific face masks, googles and gowns.
"This was an opportunity. If we did have a patient, we thought may have this virus, that we would be prepared. We would be prepared to keep our health care workers safe, our hospital safe and to take excellent care of the patient," Ambardar said.
Because of their previous experience following the Ebola virus and swine flu, Ambardar said they were able to put a plan together more quickly for this strain of coronavirus because there was already a plan in place.
"We have a setup, currently, which is much more aware of what is happening. That is partly based on experience, and partly because we want a system which communicates better. I feel like with this particular virus we were able to put a group together much more quickly that is ready and prepared," Ambardar said.
Health care providers stressed that it is important not to overreact to this strain of coronavirus.
"That is important because we are in influenza season and that is an important point. It kills hundreds of thousands of people in this country every year, and we need to focus on taking the best care of patients and looking at things in a systematic way when they come in," Ambardar said.
Some of the symptoms of this strain of the cornavirus can look similar to the flu including fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Ambardar said you should only be concerned if you've traveled to China recently or been in contact with someone who has been to that part of the world.