SPOKANE, Wash — Four patients with coronavirus, or COVID-19, have been transported to Spokane's Sacred Heart Medical Center.
The patients were transfered to Sacred Heart because it has one of 10 units nationwide prepared to deal with infectious pathogens in isolation conditions.
The decision was a joint effort between the Spokane Regional Health District, Providence Sacred Heart and the Washington State Department of Health.
A lot of questions have been asked about the patients and their possible impact on Spokane. KREM's Laura Papetti sat down with Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz to ask some of these questions.
The following transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. KREM's Laura Papetti's questions are in bold type, while answers from Dr. Bob Lutz are in normal type.
KREM's Laura Papetti: Is there a danger to the general public? Is there a possibility that having these four patients in our community means that the virus is going to be something that the average person can get? Let's talk about that. Why did you say there is zero risk to the general population?
Dr. Bob Lutz: I think it's a very reasonable question I said zero risk because I think if you look at how these individuals were identified and transported, you look upon practice, you look upon the experience of the individuals who are doing the transportation. So I feel very confident in saying, knowing the individuals who were involved, in ensuring that the individuals, that the patients were picked up at the airport and transported safely. There was security around the ambulance, and then brought to the pathogen unit. Again, I feel very confident saying that the general population has no risk from having these four individuals in our community.
Papetti: Another question we get, is that there are medical workers, people in transportation, who are working with the individuals. They get done, obviously go through a process, each time there is potential exposure. So, they go through quite a process and we can talk about that in a minute. But then they go to the grocery store or they go to the school and human error is is always a possibility. What about those folks that are dealing directly with the patient?
Lutz: So one of the things that they practice is redundancy, and you are, when you, for example, are donning and doffing what we call PPE, personal protective equipment, you are being monitored by somebody. You're watching somebody, and so somebody is watching you. So, they have practiced this many, many times. And so if perchance you make an error, while you were donning and doffing, that's noted by somebody, and you repeat the process. So again, I think the fact that you have people who have the expertise, people who have practiced this again really provides me a lot of confidence, and I would encourage the community to have that confidence in these people who have practiced or have the expertise to ensure that they are remaining city, as well as anybody that they come in contact with.
Papetti: Another question that we got today, is there any vaccine that people can get?
Lutz: No vaccine.
Papetti: Does the flu vaccine [work]?
Lutz: No, no, no, no. None whatsoever. Very different viruses.
Watch the video below for the full Q&A with Dr. Bob Lutz. Mobile users, click here to watch the video.
See all of the latest coverage of the coronavirus patients in Spokane in our YouTube playlist: