Sanford, Essentia set plans for dealing with potential coronavirus cases

Both health facilities are now asking all patients about recent travel history

FARGO, N.D. — The Dakotas and Minnesota have yet to report a case of the coronavirus, but with with confirmed reports in 10 other states, both Sanford and Essentia health are putting plans in place in case the virus makes it’s way to the area.

“We have had several different preparedness meetings where we have gotten together to talk about what are our resources, what this would this look like if it became more of a pandemic,” Essentia chief medical officer Dr. Richard Vetter said. “Making sure that we have the supplies and the resources, and making sure that our staff and our providers are educated.”

The first step in detecting potential new cases is asking all patients about their recent travel histories, even if they came to see a health provider for an unrelated reason.

“We screen all of our patients that both call in or present in to any of our locations with a question about their travel,” Sanford Vice President Dr. Douglas Griffin said. “In fact, now we are expanding that beyond just China; travel to other affected areas or contact with somebody known to have the COVID-19.”

“We are doing travel history questions right now and illness questions so if they have a travel history or contact with someone that potentially had the disease, then we would put them in temporary isolation, do the further analysis questions and appropriate testing for treatment,” explains Vetter.

After moving the patient to a contained area, the next step would be to immediately contact the department of health and the Center for Disease Control.

There are also precautions in place to make sure the virus would not spread to staff.

“There is very specifically laid out use of personal protective equipment,” said Griffin. We commonly use this for other things so we have it and we make sure our clinics have this available as well.”

This is an issue changing globally on a day-to-day basis, but both Sanford and Essentia are staying up-to-date daily with recommendations from the federal and international public health authorities on how to stay prepared if things get worse.

Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-MN, Coronavirus-ND, Health, Local News, North Dakota News