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Mercy Medical Center demonstrates care for patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms

A tent that is set up outside of the entrance to the emergency department at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. Patients with mild to severe respiratory symptoms are being tested in this tent after calling ahead to a doctor to help limit the spread of COVID-19. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)
A tent that is set up outside of the entrance to the emergency department at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. Patients with mild to severe respiratory symptoms are being tested in this tent after calling ahead to a doctor to help limit the spread of COVID-19. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 10:00 PM CDT
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Healthcare centers are taking numerous steps to ensure the safety of patients and workers in the face of coronavirus spread.

Patients with mild to severe respiratory symptoms are being tested outside of Mercy Medical Center Cedar Rapids in a tent after contacting their doctor first.

Patients are asked a number of questions similar to if a patient would go inside the hospital, but a little more stringent. After sanitizing their hands, they go into a room with back curtains where they can be tested for a number of different respiratory diseases including influenza and COVID-19.

“We take a nasopharyngeal swab and it’s applied through the nose,” Dr. Matthew Aucutt said. “It goes pretty far back. We then send it to the Iowa Department of Public Health for testing."

Aucutt said the facility is like an emergency room for patients with respiratory issues. It will help keep patients who could potentially have the virus away from others who need to be seen and don’t have symptoms.

A doctor will visit the patient, and if the symptoms are very serious they move to another room inside of the hospital but away from others. A lot of patients have made it to this checkpoint recently.

“People are doing a good job staying away,” Aucutt said. “The number of people who are really sick with COVID symptoms are gradually increasing.”

A doctor will continue to evaluate the patient and make the decision if they can go home or if they will be sent to the 8th floor to wait for the test results to come back.

“The Iowa DPH usually has results in 24 hours,” Aucutt said.

If the test comes back positive, they will then move to the 9th floor. Those rooms are specially equipped to keep the virus contained in each room.

“We’re trying to protect everybody from the virus with social distancing and staying home,” Aucutt said. “All of those measures are to stop the spread of this infection. This is just another step that we have taken to ensure the safety of our patients and the safety of the community.”

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