The University of Kansas Hospital has constructed twelve evaluation rooms in an ambulance bay near the Emergency Department but separate from the entrance and general public areas. As patients are brought by ambulance to the Emergency Department with respiratory illness, they are greeted by health care workers dressed in protective clothing and directed to this special area to evaluate where/how best to triage and treat the patient-for everyone’s protection. If a patient is experiencing emergent respiratory symptoms and has reason to believe they may have COVID-19, they should call 9-1-1. Patients experiencing respiratory symptoms requiring non-emergent care should their call primary care physician. Patients should not just show up to any Emergency Department, or doctor’s office if they have reason to believe they have COVID-19.
Calling ahead, whether it’s the emergency department or you physician office, will help ensure the patient receives the best, quickest, safest care. If he/she needs a test for COVID-19, the physician or emergency department can make those arrangements. NOTE: the health system does not currently do any testing … only specimen collection. The health system has a collection process by appointment only, which can be scheduled by health system physicians. Every health system is developing their own process. It is important for the public to call ahead and talk with a health care professional for the proper directions on where and how to get help.
In the video below, Dr. David Wild, vice president of Performance Improvement at The University of Kansas Health System, says the hospital has emergency preparedness plans that have been in effect for some time, and he outlines the steps the hospital is taking to deal with the outbreak. He talks about how the hospital collaborates with other organizations across the region, such as area health departments, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Mid America Regional Council. He talks about some of the changes the public has noticed, especially new signs and screening questions, and says there may be more changes coming. Dr. Wild also says the use of telemedicine may be expanded to care for patients who may not be able to come to the hospital for treatment. He also describes the current system for seeing if a patient has the virus. It involves taking a swab of the patient’s nose and throat, then sending the specimen to the patient’s home state health department for testing. The results are available within hours, but closer test facilities may soon shorten that turnaround. He says the hospital may eventually be set up to do its own COVID-19 testing, like the testing it currently does for the flu. He says while there’s no cure, the faster the diagnosis, the faster patients can begin the best treatment. He explains what role The University of Kansas Health System plays in the outbreak. And he tells us the top five things he tells patients, friends and family to do to combat the spread of the disease: Wash your hands while singing Happy Birthday, don’t touch your face, eyes or nose with your hands, sanitize your surroundings, don’t come to work sick and most importantly, call ahead before simply showing up unannounced to your doctor. Don’t go straight to the emergency room unless your doctor or the health department tells you to do so. He says The University of Kansas Health System is ready for the challenge.
The video also has broll of the twelve evaluation rooms and swabbing for specimen collection.