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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Health Alerts

NEW VISITOR POLICY

To all our visitors:

In accordance with New York State Department of Health Guidelines and to ensure a safe environment for our patients and visitors amid the spread of 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we have updated our policy for visitors to the hospital and clinics.

Effective immediately, we are not allowing visitors into the hospital (exceptions are for Obstetrics: one visitor during active labor and Pediatrics, 4th floor: one parent or guardian). Only these exceptions will be allowed to enter the hospital through the 470 Clarkson Avenue entrance and allowed entry only if they screen negative for the coronavirus disease.

Also allowed in the 470 Clarkson Avenue entrance: Scheduled outpatients for the clinic, scheduled urgent radiology/OB Ultrasound and time-sensitive genetic testing patients.

During this challenging period we will work with our patients to provide information to designated family members or support persons daily.

Thank you for your cooperation.

 

Information About COVID-19

A Reminder

For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the The Federal Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) website to learn about ways you can help keep yourself, your family, and our shared community safe.

BACKGROUND

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers COVID-19 a global public health emergency. Coronaviruses are very common in nature; in humans, the common cold is frequently the result of coronavirus infection.

Other species of animals have specific coronaviruses that do not ordinarily infect humans. Sometimes though, one of these animal coronaviruses develops ‘fitness’ to infect humans, and it becomes a more serious problem, as is the current case.

ABOUT NOVEL CORONAVIRUS—THE CAUSE OF COVID-19

The origin of this coronavirus is not entirely clear, but it seems to have become suited to infect humans, now spreading from person to person. From what we know, most people who get this infection appear to develop mild-to-moderate respiratory tract symptoms that resolve with time.

Serious illness, including death, has been noted primarily in the elderly and those who have serious underlying medical conditions. Despite news to the contrary, there is no known effective antibiotic therapy for this. As is usual for this time of year, there are many different ‘bugs’ circulating, including influenza, that make people sick.

WHAT WE ARE DOING

Our clinical services at University Hospital of Brooklyn is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC-DOHMH) to develop and coordinate plans to screen, and, if necessary, isolate and care for an individual or individuals—whether a patient or a staff member—who may potentially have COVID-19.

We received referred cases of concern (more than one), which were properly and expeditiously handled in our Emergency Department. After consultation with the NYC-DOHMH, these cases were determined to be low-risk, and those individuals were subsequently discharged. Our staff is well trained and capable of identifying, isolating, and treating patients with suspected coronavirus. Signs have been posted at key entry points in the hospital to urge staff and patients to self-identify if they suspect a coronavirus infection.

We have reviewed procedures in the Emergency Department, in our Ambulatory Clinics, and at our Bay Ridge facility. Our supply of masks, gloves, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and other equipment is robust, and we regularly monitor the proper functioning of our isolation facilities.

We have also developed protocols with our laboratory for diagnostic testing of nCoV as well as other, more common infections. Although tests at UHB can identify some common coronaviruses, they cannot identify the epidemic strain.

Because of repeated excellent preparations over the years to a variety of new infectious disease threats like smallpox, anthrax, Ebola, SARS, MERS, and pandemic influenza, the University Hospital of Brooklyn is well prepared to address this new concern. Our Infection Control team meets regularly with clinical and administrative leadership to assess institutional preparedness.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Wearing masks in public places is of unclear benefit, and some masks may be dangerous if used improperly. And while there is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
  • Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern, or who have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas, should call ahead to their healthcare provider before presenting for treatment.

New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus. The Department also has a dedicated website created as a resource with updated information for New Yorkers.

GOING FORWARD

Everyone should continue to observe good hand hygiene practices. We will continue monitoring the situation and will keep you alerted about any modifications to our plans.


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