‘There is no risk to the people of Spokane County’: Health officials address concerns over treating coronavirus patients

Editor’s Note: The above video shows images from Sacred Heart’s pathogen unit during Ebola training in 2017. Patients with coronavirus are not treated in the isopod or by full-suited caregivers. 

SPOKANE, Wash. – Health officials want the general public to understand they should not be concerned about contracting coronavirus in Spokane.

“There is no risk to the residents of Spokane County by bringing these people into our community for care,” Dr. Bob Lutz with the Spokane Regional Health District said.

Lutz, as well as other medical professionals, were speaking in response to surfacing concerns as Sacred Heart accepts patients with confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The patients were flown to Spokane International Airport from Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento before being transported by ambulance to the hospital.

Hospital officials said they were initially expecting five patients, but that number was reduced to four Wednesday evening.

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Peg Currie, Chief Executive Officer at Sacred Heart Medical Center, said the staff is very confident they are prepared to take on these patients.

Currie said the country recognized the need to strengthen its strategy for unusual pathogens in 2014 and establish regional treatment centers, with Sacred Heart being the designated facility for Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

She said the pathogens unit is in a separate facility from regular patients and all other hospital operations will continue as normal while the patients with coronavirus are being treated.

“We are operating normally, we are accepting patients, any procedures that were scheduled are going forward as planned. You may feel safe here,” Currie said.

Christa Arguinchona, who oversees the Special Pathogens and Rapid Response unit, said this is the first time the unit has been enacted. She said the care teams have been training for four years and have the expertise to properly care for the patients.

The patients will be at Sacred Heart for a minimum of two weeks, which is the guideline for patients with coronavirus.

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Posted by 4 News Now on Thursday, February 20, 2020

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