With Coronavirus (COVID-19) on everyone’s mind, Bronx Times had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Margaret Aldrich, Director of Pediatric Infection Control for Pediatric at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore about what Bronxites can do to prepare themselves and their communities.
“Wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and keep a clean environment,” Aldrich said.
Dr. Aldrich is taking a reasonable approach to looking at the virus; she said it’s important for everyone to get a good, realistic depiction of what the virus’s potential effect on the city.
Aldrich said healthcare specialists are in constant contact with affiliates on the west coast in Washington State due to the multitude of cases there.
“We are looking at Washington State, talking to doctors and want to implement similar precautions,” Aldrich said.
She added it is helpful for people to take a step-wide approach with their reactions so not to over or under react to the situation.
Due to the all the unknowns of the virus and its evolving nature, Aldrich said it can be an anxiety inducing situation for people.
“Everyone I know in healthcare is taking it seriously and we are preparing the best way we can,” she said.
The doctor advised New Yorkers to listen to the information put out by the Centers of Disease Controls and the New York City Department of Health.
Many New Yorkers who use public transportation are shielding themselves from contamination with facemasks and latex gloves, but Aldrich said it’s more important to take simple precautions like washing your hands before you touch your face or eat.
“Washing your hands can not be understated,” Aldrich said.
Subject matter of schools was brought up in the conversation since closures have started in the NYC and Westchester County. She reiterated the importance of staying home if you’re sick.
“These things are done to honestly protect the communities, not to hurt them or pick on them,” Aldrich.
According to Aldrich, one of the biggest challenges for healthcare providers is identifying those who are actually experiencing COVID-19.
“It’s challenging identifying it in many people who are displaying minor symptoms like a minor cough or fever,” Aldrich said. “The symptoms can be quite mild to quite severe like trouble breathing.”
The doctor suggested anyone feeling “distressed” in any manner to go to the hospital.
Several years ago at the height of the Ebola epidemic, Montefiore built what they call the “Emerging Infectious Disease Unit.”
The EIDU is a specialized facility where the air flow is regulated to safely manage any air-borne infections. Dr. Aldrich said the unit is fully functional and ready to operate in the case an active COVID-19 infection is hospitalized.