Stanford tests drive through medical center

June 12, 2009 6:48:31 PM PDT
In a worst case scenario, the H1N1 pandemic could flood emergency rooms and medical centers with patients seeking help and keeping the virus from spreading while protecting doctors, nurses and first responders will be a major challenge.

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One safeguard may be having patients stay in their car and have the medical team come to them.

"This is more comfortable for me personally, I actually have a camper, so if I had to wait around for a long time I could stretch out in the back and wait if I wasn't feeling well," said volunteer Vicki Pelton.

Vicki is actually feeling fine. She is one of several volunteers who took part in an exercise at Stanford Hospital to test the feasibility of a drive-thru medical center during a pandemic.

The whole idea is to keep the emergency room open for trauma patients, and to keep those with flu-like symptoms isolated in their cars, so they can be treated there.

"I think this will not only be a very viable alternative but an important one that hospitals can use all over the country to see large numbers of patients and mitigate the spread of infectious disease," said Dr. Eric Weiss from Stanford Hospital and Clinic.

Stanford is the first hospital in the country to hold this type of exercise. Dr. Weiss says considering they almost had to use this service during the recent H1N1 outbreak, he is confident Stanford will implement it, and patients seem satisfied.

"I think being able to isolate people in a car is a great idea," said volunteer Suzanne Gelb.

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