Edward-Elmhurst Health hosted a virtual town hall meeting to give an update on how its hospitals are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and to answer questions from the community.
Edward-Elmhurst Health’s System CEO Mary Lou Mastro and Chief Physician Executive and COVID-19 Incident Commander Dr. Sanjeeb Khatua led the discussion, with Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley and Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico also answering questions.
Community members’ questions for the healthcare workers ranged from what are the symptoms of COVID-19 to what they’re doing at home to avoid contracting the virus.
One question asked of the Edward-Elmhurst Health workers was the criteria they use to discharge a patient after they successfully recover from COVID-19.
“What we’re looking for is improvement in symptoms,” said Ankur Singal, M.D., an internal medicine specialist/hospitalist at Edward Hospital. “The greatest symptom being shortness of breath, reduction in fever, and your overall oxygen requirements… That’s probably the biggest markers, along with inflammatory markers that we see on blood tests that help us decide if you can go home or not.”
Edward-Elmhurst Health has had 371 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 319 of them have recovered, and 51 have died from the illness according to numbers that were given at the town hall meeting.
Edward-Elmhurst Health officials say they are following recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the CDC’s recommendations is to wear a mask in public.
Jonathan Pinsky, M.D., a specialist in infectious diseasesl at Edward Hospital, said there are multiple benefits to wearing them.
“One is to protect yourself from someone else who is contagious, and the second benefit would be to protect others if you are contagious,” said Pinsky. “A little bit about the transmission of COVID–it’s thought to be transmitted through droplets, so that would be not only through coughing or sneezing, but just through talking, or singing, [and] speaking. And they can be transmitted up to six feet.”
When Should You Wear a Mask?
Healthcare workers ask you dispose of your mask safely. Pinksy said community members should wear masks in a setting where there are crowds.
“You don’t need to wear a masks outside. If you go to the park and the wind is blowing you’re fine, you don’t need to wear a mask. This would be in a setting in being in a building where you can’t more distance yourself than six feet, or if you’re in some kind of crowded environment,” said Pinksy.
Should Cities Enforce The Public To Wear Masks?
Both mayors were asked if they should enforce community members to wear masks in public.
“Right now, I would say in Elmhurst we’re encouraging everyone to do it,” said Morley. “We continue to communicate that, but we’re not in a position, at this point to mandate it because I’m not sure if it would be as beneficial.”
“I think that the governor, likely, will be providing us with a modified stay-at-home order within the next couple of days,” said Chirico. “I suspect, and I would support, that part of that order would include additional protocols. And one of those might be that all employees at food stores wear masks…I think it would be reasonable, at least at the beginning, to include that with the opening up of our economy again until we know for sure that the caseloads are at manageable levels for the health care systems.”
Towards the end of the hour-long meeting, a community shared a story about man who was having chest pains but was scared to go to the emergency room because of he possibility of contracting coronavirus. The man died as a result of a heart attack.
Edward-Elmhurst Health officials ask if you have any concerns about your health, do not hesitate to go to the hospital.
“If you need to come to the hospital, it is safe,” said Mastro. “We are here, we stand prepared, and are ready to take care of you as we always have.”
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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