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How Prepared Are Las Vegas Hospitals For Coronavirus?

As the number of people with coronavirus continues to grow, one of the biggest concerns is health care and whether the system is prepared for a large scale outbreak. 

coronavirus: what you need to know

Last week, State of Nevada talked to a nurse from a major Las Vegas hospital who didn’t want her name or the name of their hospital used. We also disguised her voice electronically.  

She and other nurses are concerned about the lack of preparation at the hospital. She told us they are having to share personal protective gear. 

"Barb," as we're calling her, said the face masks have been rationed and they are only allowed to use one mask per shift unless it becomes soiled.

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She also said there aren't enough powered air-purifying respirators - known by their acronym PAPR and she said the hospital she works at was going to wait until the outbreak increases to issue more.

Barb said the other nurses she works with are concerned but the hospital administration is not taking their concerns seriously.

"They feel that we're not being well protected in terms of this pandemic," she said, "We want to help out these patients that are sick. We want to help protect the public. We want to help control this but we don't feel like we're being taken seriously in terms of our concerns about the lack of equipment and our lives are just being risked with no contingency plan."

Barb said she loves her job and she's not afraid to work with patients who have the novel coronavirus but she doesn't think the administration is taking the concerns seriously enough.

Dr. Jeff Murawsky is the chief medical officer at Sunrise Medical Center and Sunrise Children's Hospital.

He said no one has dealt with a pandemic like the one that is currently underway. They are using flu pandemic plans to address the situation.

Murawsky understands the concerns that Barb has about personal protection equipment but some of those concerns are based on perception.

"I absolutely understand how she feels," he said, "It's a lot of trying to communicate what we're doing... We usually put out regular face masks at our sneeze stations, things we do for flu, so visitors can come by and borrow them."

But he said with the spread of the coronavirus, his hospital took those masks away and people now have to ask for them. He said his hospital didn't want people to come there to "shop" for masks.

Murawsky said because some of the supplies come from China they wanted to manage their current supply.

"It doesn't mean that we violate CDC standards but we're having to communicate to do things a little differently," he said.

Sunrise Hospital now has white tents out front where patients that are coming into the emergency room will be tested and triaged before being brought into the hospital.

Murawsky said the tents allow for the best ventilation and if there is a larger outbreak in the city they'll be used to evaluate even more patients.

For now, Murawsky said everyone needs to work at preventing the spread of the virus.

"If we adhere to the social distancing guidelines that are being put forth and slow the spread of the virus by keeping our distance, washing our hands repeatedly, staying inside if we have a fever or feel sick, really following those meeting guidelines around not gathering in groups. If we do those things and we flatten the curve is what people are talking about," he said. 

'Flattening the curve' means reducing the number of cases so the health care system doesn't get overwhelmed with sick people all at once and instead the number of cases gets spread out over a longer period of time. 

 

Guests

'Barbara', nurse, hospital in Las Vegas; Dr. Jeffrey Murawskychief medical officer, Sunrise Medical Center and Sunrise Children’s Hospital. ​

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