Hospitals in the Nashville area are balancing infection control with their duty to treat patients who may have the coronavirus.
Williamson Medical Center took samples to confirm the one case in Tennessee, but the patient wasn’t even allowed to enter the hospital. He was met outside.
“The reason for that is to reassure our current patients and visitors who have been at the hospital and getting care that there isn’t concern for exposure to them,” medical director Paul Jacob said in a press conference.
Jacob says anyone seeking treatment is welcome. But patients are being discouraged from just showing up in emergency rooms.
In Williamson County, Vanderbilt Health has instructed patients to present at its walk-in clinics. And Vanderbilt Medical Center wants patients to call first so they can be given a mask before entering the clinics. The hospital has also established a hotline (888-312-0847) staffed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
But they’re also discouraging anyone from seeking testing if they don’t have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Tennessee’s ability to test patients remains fairly limited. As of Thursday, the state lab had only tested 10 patients with the capacity to handle 85 more.
The first case was confirmed publicly Thursday. A man in Williamson County is recovering from a mild case of COVID-19. But the discovery of the case has the community on high alert. Even though he doesn’t appear to have kids in public school, the district closed schools until Tuesday for deep cleaning.
“We still need medical providers to see ill patients,” state epidemiologist John Dunn said Sunday. “That’s their role in our community. And we’re trying to support them the best we can.” He also said the best place for most patients to go is still their primary care physician.