vidant sign

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the East Carolina University and Greenville community is undergoing a continuation of change. With these changes, many may wonder what Vidant and the medical community are doing to keep people safe and handle this outbreak.

Kristen Ingalls is a registered nurse for Vidant Medical Center and she said there has been a few changes around the hospital to keep patients, visitors and workers safe.

Ingalls said visitors can only be immediate family, 16 years or older and there can only be one person in the room at a time. She said visitors have been very respectful of these changes and they can test for the coronavirus at Vidant, but they have to send it out somewhere else for results.

“I think what they’ve been doing is when people have symptoms of it, they go ahead and test them and send it out and then they quarantine those people so that they’re not around anybody else until we get those results back,” Ingalls said.

Ingalls said if there is anyone currently on the floor and shows symptoms, they are placed inside of a special room for isolation. She said the room keeps all the air flow inside and that it is typically used for patients with tuberculosis.

There are more than 100 isolation rooms at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville and additional isolation rooms in Vidant community hospitals, according to the Vidant Health website.

Ingalls said Vidant has also been consistent with texts, emails and updates for employees every few hours regarding any changes. She said if you do not need to go to the hospital, you should not go to the hospital.

“If you're sick and it’s something that can wait until after this is over, like if it's something you can treat at home, then you should not be going to the hospital period,” Ingalls said. “But if you have any symptoms at all then you need to go ahead and go to the ED (Emergency Department).”

Vidant is keeping patients and visitors safe by identifying those with coughs at admission of entry points and placing masks on the patients, according to the Vidant Health website. It also states if a patient traveled to an area at risk for COVID-19, or the patient has had exposure to someone being already treated, they will be placed into one of their isolation rooms.

Chief of Infectious Disease at ECU Brody School of Medicine, Paul Cook, said there has been a shortage in testing and test results have taken several days to get back. However, he said the hospital has purchased a new format testing machine that will provide a more rapid testing process.

When the machine is ready, they've been told the hospital lab will have the ability to do 40 to 44 tests a day and receive same day results, according to Cook. He said there isn’t enough capacity to test people who are asymptomatic and haven’t had any real exposure.

“For folks who are sick and in other words having flu-like illnesses we’ve got a protocol in place where we’re testing them for the flu which is still quite prevalent now,” Cook said.

If the flu test comes back positive, Cook said they get sent home, and if the flu test is negative, they test them for other respiratory illnesses. He said if those tests are negative and they’re still suspicious, they then get tested for COVID-19.

Cook said it is extremely unlikely to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

“We do expect to see cases in the hospital, we’re trying to get some protocols in place on how to treat folks, and we’re also looking at getting some trials in with some investigational medication that seem to have some activity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Cook said.

Sophomore intended nursing major Adryana Sandiford, said she thinks ECU made the right call to transition to alternative course delivery when they did to keep students safe. She said at first she didn’t think things were that serious, but quickly changed her mind as she saw groceries missing from grocery stores and people undergoing quarantine.

“A lot of people, they’re grocery shopping but they’re taking like a lot of stuff, so now there's not really anything else for the people who are late going to the grocery store and getting all the supplies they need,” Sandiford said.

Sandiford said things should be taken seriously but she hopes people will be less greedy in stores and understand that everyone is in this together.

Although Sandiford is now at her home near Raleigh and Vidant wouldn’t necessarily apply to her, she said she feels confident and has trust in her local hospital if she ever needs to be seen or treated.

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