PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Singing River Hospital is on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, working to care for seven infected patients while also keeping their healthcare workers safe.
The Pascagoula hospital gave WLOX an unprecedented look inside the hospital to show how they are fighting to keep the virus from spreading.
Before walking into Singing River Hospital, everyone is required to stop at the checkpoint out front to make sure that person does not have any symptoms of COVID-19. Once inside, a thermal camera reads the person’s temperature to ensure no fever is present.
For those who have symptoms of COVID-19, SRHS has partnered with American Esoteric Labs, a private facility, to process test results faster. Currently, the turnaround time for tests is less than 48 hours.
“Our objective is to try and hit this harder on the front end,” said SRHS Chief Executive Officer Lee Bond. “That social distancing, its legitimate. It needs to be done and that’s how we will bust the curve, not flatten it.”
Bond said on Wednesday that the hospital is caring for seven patients who have the virus. Those patients are being cared for on the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
ICU rooms are sanitized with UV light from a machine known as the Skytron. Rooms are then pressurized to make sure the air does not flow back into the hospital, which limits the virus’s exposure to other patients and hospital staff members.
“All air is flowing from outside into the room, through our HEPA filtration system,” said SRHS Director of Facilities Randall Cobb. "It scrubs the air and then is discharged outside.”
As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, Singing River Hospital is making sure they have enough ventilators to properly care for patients.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Randy Roth said SRHS is also working with colleagues at the surgery center to make sure they have enough ventilators on standby if needed to care for the community.
“It’s a real issue but right now we’re okay,” said Dr. Roth.
In addition to caring for patients, a primary focus of the hospital is to keep its healthcare workers safe so they can keep caring for patients long-term.
One of the ways they are doing that, said Dr. Roth, is through televisits, which allow patients to get care at home without having to travel.
“You should be at home right now," said Dr. Roth. “We are not seeing a lot of walking well people get very sick. We are seeing a lot of people who are very sick to begin with getting sicker with this virus.
SRHS has multiple clinics set up to test patients for COVID-19. However, health officials recommend that anyone showing symptoms call ahead before showing up to one of the clinics.
To see a list of clinics throughout the state that are providing coronavirus testing to patients who meet the criteria, click HERE.
SRHS has set up a coronavirus hotline to help answer people’s questions. It can be reached by calling 228-809-5044. The Mississippi Department of Health also has a hotline available at 877-978-6453.