Memphis VA hospital pre-screening for coronavirus while monitoring patient

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis VA Medical Center is taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the hospital monitors a patient for symptoms.

The Veterans Administration hospital will now begin pre-screening everyone who enters the facility.

Tents could be seen set up outside the emergency room entrance on Jefferson to screen people attempting to enter Wednesday.

"Some of the doors they've closed off," VA outpatient Jeff Shamblin said. "They're basically funneling people from one door to another…employees have one entrance and then visitors to the hospital have another entrance. >

The evaluation includes answering three questions:

  1. Do you have a fever or worsening cough or flu-like symptoms?
  2. Have you traveled to China, Japan, Italy, Iran or South Korea in the last two weeks?
  3. Have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus?

Hospital officials said patients should be aware that this processing may lengthen entry time. They asked patients and caregivers to arrive a few minutes early to allow for that.

"Questions about: have you been outside the country, have you been in contact with someone who's sick or somebody that has tested positive for the coronavirus?" Shamblin said.

As of Wednesday morning, the Memphis VA Medical Center has not encountered anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. However, the hospital is monitoring one patient.

Michael Lonbardo, who said he's been coming to the VA for 10 years, said the hospital was eerily quiet Wednesday.

"It's very empty inside, like a lot of people must be cancelling their appointments or something," he said. "Because on a weekday, at this hour of the day, the halls are usually packed with people going to and fro. It's empty in there as if it were a Saturday."

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