ABC7 News tours SF General ICU isolation rooms amid coronavirus concerns

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
ABC7 News tours SF General ICU isolation rooms amid coronavirus concerns
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Here's a look at SF General's ICU isolation room that has been used to treat patients with a variety of infectious diseases, including H1N1, tuberculosis, and measles.

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of Americans are being evacuated from China and landing at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, where they will be quarantined for at least two weeks.

If one of the evacuees is diagnosed with coronavirus once they are stateside, they will be taken to a hospital.

Right now, UCSF is treating two coronavirus patients, who were transferred to their Parnassus campus on Monday, from San Benito County.

RELATED: 2 cases of coronavirus confirmed south of Gilroy in San Benito County, person-to-person transmission, health officials say

Dr. Lisa Winston is the hospital epidemiologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and says their facility is also ready if anyone shows up with the virus.

"The types of resources that you need, an airborne isolation room, and personal protective equipment are things that we use routinely for caring for patients with other conditions."

SF General has treated patients with a variety of infectious diseases in the hospital's isolation rooms, including H1N1, tuberculosis, and measles.

Dr. Winston showed ABC7 how their negative pressure rooms function. Standard ICU rooms open directly to a hallway, but the isolation rooms are connected to the hall with an antechamber room, which prevents air from escaping into the rest of the ICU and hospital. The air from the isolation room is then run through a specialized filter and pumped outside.

Once a medical worker is in the antechamber, they first sanitize their hands with Purell, and then suit up in a gown, N95 respirator, eye protection, and gloves.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Centers for Disease Control confirms 2nd case of coronavirus in Santa Clara County

Dr. Winston says N95 respirators are used instead of standard surgical masks, when treating infectious diseases.

"They filter out small particles that we would be worried about breathing in," said Dr. Winston.

After 26 years at SF General, Dr. Winston is very comfortable with their protective clothing and gear, but said, "when we're dealing with something new like novel coronavirus, we generally do have someone who's observing to make sure we have adequate coverage and that everything is on properly."

Dr. Winston says she has never been infected by a patient at the hospital.

You can visit CDC's website to keep updated with the latest information on coronavirus.

See more stories related to coronavirus here.