The Seattle man who tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from China recently was kept in isolation and evaluated using a robot after arriving at Providence Regional Medical Center – Everett.
Dr. George Diaz, section chief of infectious diseases at the hospital, said that staff was contacted by the health department and asked to admit and treat the man, who has not been identified, once the positive coronavirus test results came back. Diaz said the man was transported to the hospital via ambulance from his home and placed in an isolation pod.
Diaz said that the patient was taken in the isolation pod directly to a special pathogens unit, which is a closed unit where he is the only patient being treated.
“All interactions between myself and the patient initially were through the use of a robot, which is basically a telehealth module that we use outside the room in our command center,” Diaz told Fox News.
Diaz explained that the robot is in the room with the patient and can be manipulated to move closer to the patient and examine him using a stethoscope so that staff can evaluate him without risking contamination. It was reported earlier that 16 people who had come in contact with the patient were under observation but that none had developed symptoms.
“The risk to the general public remains low,” said Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District.
Diaz said his patient, who first went to an urgent clinic with suspected symptoms and told staff he had been traveling through China, has been treated with supportive therapy since there is no specific treatment regimen for this virus.
“At this point, he is in stable condition and we’re waiting for the direction from the CDC in terms of further testing and hopefully discharge,” he said, adding that because the virus is so new, it’s not clear what kind of recovery is to be expected.
Diaz noted that the fatalities have involved older patients with underlying health issues, and while he said he could not elaborate on his patient’s health history, the patient is “expected to have a good recovery.”
Those concerned about the virus, which has infected over 500 people and been linked to at least 17 deaths, should take normal precautions when trying to avoid illness, Diaz said. He also said the main risk factor in this outbreak is travel.