WOOSTER — No one entered Wooster Community Hospital on Wednesday for the “Learn the Facts: Coronavirus” presentation without answering two questions.
“Have you recently experienced any symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, or shortness of breath?” and “Have you traveled anywhere in the last two weeks?”
The hospital stationed one of its staff members, armed with a clipboard and wearing a mask, at the door to check each of the 30 community members who attended the educational event about the new coronavirus disease at the WCH auxiliary atrium inside the Outpatient Pavilion.
Following an introduction by the hospital’s chief of staff Dr. Paul Moodispaw, infectious disease physician Dr. Robert Leininger gave a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation about COVID-19, the respiratory illness first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Leininger outlined the types of coronavirus, how COVID-19 differs from the other, more common human coronavirus types, how it spreads, what the symptoms are, and who is most at risk. He also presented the CDC recommendations for what precautions to take, what to do if infected, what to if someone around you is infected, and treatment options.
Testing is only being given to individuals who have a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness — such as cough or shortness of breath — have traveled from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, or Italy within the last 14 days, or been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient within the last 14 days.
Leininger also addressed what parents or guardians should tell their children such as avoiding language that blames others or creates stigma. In comparison to the flu, which has a mortality rate of 0.1%, the COVID-19 rate of mortality is 3.4%, according to the World Health Organization, but that number is likely to go down once more cases are discovered.
He encouraged the audience not to panic. The biggest risk to the health system over the coronavirus is overloading medical resources. A limited supply of personal protective equipment is also why the public is being asked not to buy masks needed for hospitals and other health care providers.
One of his last points was addressing the precautions being taken to slow down the spread of the virus. Leininger said there are likely more cases in Ohio that have, to this point, gone undiagnosed.
“The more we can do to slow the spread can help delay the biggest spike,” Leininger said. “We want to try to control this the best we can, the more we can do to reduce the peak burden on hospitals and the medical structure.”
Following Leininger’s presentation, Rachel Franks, infection preventionist at WCH, updated the audience on how the hospital is preparing for possible COVID-19 patients. The hospital will be closing down some of its access points so it can better screen people coming into the building.
Wayne County Health Department Commissioner Nick Cascarelli assured the audience that he felt “confident that we’re prepared” if a case occurs in the county. For those who had more questions, he encouraged them to call the health department at 330-264-9590 or visit the website at www.wayne-health.org.
Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman also asked that people “take a deep breath and calm down… The best thing to think is common sense and get as much information on your own as you can.”
All of the information shared during the presentation came from the Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, and audience members were encouraged to visit their websites.
The hospital streamed the event on Facebook Live, but it plans to release an edited version on Friday due to poor sound quality from the live stream.
— Reporter Emily Morgan can be reached at 330-287-1632 or [email protected]
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