Health care providers urge calm amid COVID-19 outbreak

Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center.jpg
Posted at 9:48 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 00:11:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Health care providers are bracing for overload as the number of COVID-19 patients in the Kansas City area, across Kansas and Missouri, and across the U.S. continue to rise.

Right now, hospitals and health centers are preparing for a possible influx of patients experiencing complications from the novel coronavirus.

"We had a patient yesterday, we had to call the EMT (because) he had chest pain,” Dr. Toni Zink, who specializes in adult senior health at the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, said. “He’s a heart patient, and so everyone had fear of, ‘Oh, he has COVID.’ But, no, he was a person with chest pain who needed to be treated.”

So far, the health center hasn’t had a COVID-19 case, but Zink wants everyone to know the symptoms — including a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath — and not overreact to other ailments.

It’s unclear yet how pervasive the COVID-19 outbreak will become in the U.S., but Zink already knows that places like the Samuel Rodgers Health Center need more supplies to get the crisis.

"We are in desperate need of the N95 masks, gloves, more testing supplies as well since we don’t know the number we will receive in the future,” Zink said.

To help keep the first responders safe, 911 call centers are asking more screening questions during medical emergency calls.

"They’re asking things like, ‘Are you not feeling well? Do you have a cough? Have you been running a fever?’” Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department Public Information Officer Nancy Chartrand said. “All these screening questions (are designed) so that we’re getting them the right type of help they need.”

Despite the alarms sounding from the medical community, Zink urges the public not to panic.

Instead, follow the medical community’s advice — wash your hands frequently and maintain a 6-foot distance from other people when possible until the pandemic is over.

"We want everyone to stay calm, relaxed,” Zink said. "I’m a true believer that things that are hard they’re going to make us stronger, if we work together.”