ATLANTA — Emory Health provided an update on its response to combat the coronavirus, which included a request for personal protection equipment and good news about COVID-19 testing.
During a conference call with journalists Friday morning, Dr. Colleen Kraft, Emory’s associate chief medical officer, said results for COVID-19 testing is now taking less than a day.
“Just yesterday we got all of our results being done within 24 hours, meaning we finally got all of the results from those referral laboratories that were taking seven to ten days,” Kraft said.
The infectious disease expert said all healthcare workers who exhibit symptoms will have access to the tests. It’s an important update Kraft said will keep staff healthy and working.
It something she learned while coordinated the Ebola response at Emory about five years ago.
“The thing that always worries me the most that has remained with me since the Ebola disease is the large percentage of our healthcare workers getting infected," she said. "That always scares me the most, because that leads to a lot of mistrust."
The hospital administrator believes the criticism for delays in test results are contrived. Kraft said most of the public doesn’t realize the creation of the test was the fastest Emory has ever created.
“I know we all want a diagnostic test immediately in many different forms as fast as possible, but we are currently prioritizing those that really need to know whether they have COVID, so that we can either properly isolate them, or properly get them to another part of the hospital where they are not going to be near a COVID patient,” Kraft said.
Like other hospitals, Emory said it is in critical need of disposable or reusable gowns, as well as face masks. The hospital system is requesting donations and ideas on how to handle the shortage.
“One of the things that I hope is a side effect of this outbreak, is that we have excellent innovation in personal protection equipment, and if there is anyone who wishes to donate, to such a fund, please contact me. We have lots of ideas, especially coming out of this outbreak, that we’ve had since the Ebola disease,” Kraft said.
Emory announced it created an online tool for the public to monitor symptoms and identify how likely they have contracted the novel coronavirus. The website is C19check.com.
“The free tool was designed by Vital software with guidance from Emory Department of Emergency Medicine's Health DesignED Center and the Emory Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response,” Emory wrote in a press release.
Dr. Kraft said she isn’t sure how long the coronavirus will take its toll in Georgia, but she knows we haven’t seen the worst yet.
“I think that is something that is taking a personal toll on me to be honest," she said. "I think it’s been a difficult time in preparation to think about that - we haven’t even hit the peak yet."
“I think that we will be in some sort of crisis," Kraft predicted. "I don’t know if we’re going to have COVID patients that are so severely ill. I think the recovery outside the healthcare system, is gonna take a while.”
Dr. Kraft would not say whether Emory has enough ventilators, but the hospital did recently purchase 50 new machines this past month.
Emory is in the process of conducting a study with recovered COVID-19 patients – using their plasma to extract antibodies to potentially treat patients.