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'It's very serious': Navicent Health doctor says they've been preparing to treat COVID-19 for weeks

Two confirmed cases are being treated at the Macon hospital now

MACON, Ga. — Two people diagnosed with COVID-19 are now being treated at Medical Center Navicent Health.

That's according to hospital spokesperson Megan Allen.

One patient is from Peach County, the other is from Bibb.

Dr. Sanford Duke, the hospital's Chief Clinical Officer, says both patients are in stable condition.

Allen said the two are not a risk to the other patients in the hospital.

The hospital cited patient privacy laws and declined to provide more information on the specifics of these two patients — including how many people may have been exposed to them, and if they have underlying medical conditions.

However, Duke said the patients have been isolated and hospital employees are using special protective gear, called personal protective equipment (PPE), when near them.

Duke says that step, among others, should protect other patients and limit the risk to caretakers

"We are cohorting those patients who are either under investigation or who have been diagnosed with COVID," he said. "We're going to have a unit set up where we have all of the patients in one area, where we can standardize the PPE and protect our team members. We're following that closely. We do routine audits, and we're careful to make sure that all of our team members are safe."

PPE is in high demand.

Georgia Public Broadcasting reported that Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital near Albany had to hospitalize nearly 60 people with COVID-19 symptoms, and burned through months worth of protective equipment supplies in a week.

"The situation in Phoebe Putney is certainly concerning and has definitely galvanized our focus to ensure that we're prepared and we're looking at multiple levels of preparedness in surge and we have contingencies such that we are prepared for such a surge here," Duke said.

He didn't mince words when it came to COVID-19.

"This is serious and despite the fact that there is the potential for it to be mild disease, we need to respect this disease because it has the potential to overwhelm the medical system if we don't practice those simple guidelines," Duke said.

Those simple guidelines, he said, mean diligent hand washing and sanitizing, social distancing, avoiding groups of more than ten people, and staying home if you're feeling sick.

When asked if Navicent would accept COVID-19 patients from other hospitals, Allen says "we're a tertiary teaching hospital so we often take transfers from other hospitals from central and south Georgia."

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