Baptist Health Experts Offer Guidance, Protection Tips on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Baptist Health South Florida featured a panel discussion Wednesday about the Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19.

As questions and concerns arise throughout South Florida and nationwide about potential outbreaks, Baptist Health experts offered insights on infection protection, the latest on symptom awareness and how Baptist Health is prepared and screening potential patients, including the pivotal role of telemedicine, or Care on Demand, which allows you to see a physician from any mobile device or PC — any time, 24/7.

You can see the full panel discussion on Resource Live. Here are some highlights:

From John Braden. M.D., Baptist Health’s director for emergency preparedness:

What advice would you give people who may have symptoms similar to those of COVID-19?

Dr. Braden: “They should be reaching out to their healthcare provider for advice and for the best mode of action. If symptoms are serious, they should seek immediate medical care. But overall, most cases of COVID-19 are mild, including fever and respiratory symptoms (such as a dry cough).”

What is Baptist Health doing to prepare for the potential spread of COVID-19?

Dr. Braden: “As an organization tasked with taking care of our community, Baptist Health takes emergency preparedness very seriously. Across all our entities, we have a screening process at all entry points — including ERs and urgent care facilities — screening for pneumonia-like symptoms, and particularly fever and respiratory complaints. Once we identify potential patients, they are moved into a triage area and we’ll do an in-depth interview on any possible travel history (and possible contact with potentially sick individuals). We would then identify and isolate them if they meet the criteria. And with guidance from the CDC and the Florida Health Department, we’ll manage any potential cases.”

From David Mishkin, M.D., medical director of Baptist Health Care On Demand:

What should the public know about Care On Demand and the critical role it plays currently with potential outbreaks of COVID-19?

Dr. Mishkin: “Telemedicine is an alternative to seek care without physically having to go to a doctor’s office, an urgent care center, or a hospital. Currently, we recognize that a lot of patients with certain symptoms are specifically concerned whether or not they are exposed to this virus.

“We want to be accessible to the community to advise patients and their family members about their symptoms and potentially what to do next. This is an excellent alternative for patients to seek care with our providers who have been trained and are following surveillance guidelines and CDC protocols.”

From Javier Pérez-Fernández, M.D., pulmonologist and critical care director at Baptist Hospital of Miami.

Which patients are most vulnerable to COVID-19?

Dr. Pérez-Fernández “It’s important to mention this virus behaves with respiratory symptoms. But most of the patients suffer very mild symptoms. The vast majority of the patients affected with COVID-19 only present with cough and fever, and the respiratory symptoms don’t go beyond that. Some patients will develop pneumonia, which is a condition that will fill the lungs with inflammatory substances, such as fluids … Some of these patients will be affected to different degrees of severity. And most of them, luckily, present with mild to moderate disease.

“Those patients that have more of a risk to develop a serious problem are those with comorbidities (one or more pre-existing chronic health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes). These are baseline conditions, such as respiratory disease or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or even complicated asthma cases or patients with other diseases, such as those recovering from lung cancer. This is the population that can be exposed to more serious complications.”

From Aileen Marty, M.D., professor, Infectious Diseases, at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine:

What are the best practices for protecting yourself against COVID-19?

Dr. Marty: “It is very important to be hygienic. The good news about this virus is that it has an envelope. And envelope viruses are more sensitive to most any cleaning ingredients that we can use, almost any easy over-the-shelf cleaner. So by cleaning surfaces and keeping surfaces clean that are frequently touched, we’re going to reduce the spread. That’s very important.

“No. 2 — we have to do personal hygiene. And by personal hygiene, I don’t just mean washing your hands, although that is incredibly important. I mean being attuned to what you’re doing with you hands on a regular basis. That’s because if you wash your hands and then touch a contaminated surface, and then touch your face, you’ve basically defeated the purpose of having washed your hands. So you have to be attuned to what you are doing physically.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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