Inside An Isolation Room For Coronavirus Patients

All News KCBS Radio
February 21, 2020 - 5:00 pm
San Francisco General Hospital said Feb. 20, 2020 that potential patients with coronavirus would be treated in isolation rooms like this one.

Nic Palmer/KCBS Radio

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More than a dozen patients sick with COVID-19 have been transferred to Bay Area hospitals from Travis Air Froce Base in Fairfield. 

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital has approximately 40 isolation rooms that could be used to treat coronavirus patients. 

KCBS Radio got an exclusive look at the so-called negative pressure rooms at the hospital. 

Doctors and other staff suit up with protective gloves, masks and gowns before interacting with patients. 

"Once they have that on, they would then go on to do the work they need to do," said Jeffrey Schmidt, the director of clinical operations. 

These rooms are typically used for patients infected with tuberculosis, measles, chicken pox and other communicable illnesses that can spread through the air. 

The rooms are behind an extra set of doors to restrict air flow. The system sucks air back into the patient's room, where there's a special filtration system, rather than letting it escape elsewhere. 

COVID-19 is not thought to be airborne, but officials at the hospital said it's wise to take extra precaution.

"We try and do one higher level of PPE [personal protective equipment> than we believe may be necessary," said Elaine Dekker, infection prevention and control program manager "It can look a little intimidating, but we make sure they know the people behind those masks and those gowns."

Private bathrooms and showers ensure that patients do not need to leave their room. 

Even though the chambers are isolated, visitors are welcome, but they must also don protective gear. 

Officials said patients should not go to the emergency room if they believe they may be infected with the virus. Instead, they should contact their physician who can help make arrangements to be examined at a medical facility. 

Reporting by Kathy Novak.