Henry Mayo explains patient privacy, coronavirus symptoms

The new Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Patient Tower is pictured on Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Although three cases were confirmed over the weekend by Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, no new cases had been added as of Monday afternoon.

However, little is known to Santa Clarita’s general public about the specifics of the patients, with questions including whether the ones diagnosed were travelers, the ages or any additional descriptive information.

Dr. Bud Lawrence, medical director for Henry Mayo’s emergency room department, said the hospital is unable to provide any information on any of those patients because the hospital is following county Department of Public Health protocol.

“When you stop and think about it, with the anxiety out there, there’s a potential for social stigma, where other people would be very upset if they find out that someone in their neighborhood had this or something,” said Lawrence. “We don’t ever want there to be a situation where some patients have their privacy jeopardized.”

When asked how many cases he believes are in Santa Clarita, Lawrence said there was no way to know.

“When you look at China, there’s 56,000 that they had and those are only the people who tested positive,” said Lawrence. “A majority of patients have a very mild course of the illness, like a common cold, so most patients don’t even go to the doctor.”

“That’s why when you look at all the data and you’re looking at case fatality rates,” said Lawrence. “The data is not really that trustworthy because you’re not taking into account all of the cases that are out there.”

But despite the total number of Chinese patients being unreliable, Lawrence said the data Chinese doctors provided on those 56,000 patients regarding symptoms is important.

About 90% had a fever; 68% had a dry cough; and about 33% of patients, or so, had fatigue.

“Those are the three most common symptoms,” said Lawrence. “I preach that it is even almost more helpful to know that only 5% had nausea or vomiting, 5% had a runny nose and only 4% of those patients had diarrhea.”

“If you have another viral infection, like you tested positive for influenza or different viral illness, there’s a less than 2% chance that you’ll have COVID-19 as well,” said Lawrence. “There’s 98-or-greater-percent chance that you don’t have two viral infections going on at the same time with this particular COVID-19 virus.”

Lawrence emphasized the importance of hand washing and social distancing as ways to help prevent the spread of the virus. He also said Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital has set up an external triage system where they can see and test patients outside of the emergency room.

“It’s important to know that Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is on it,” said Lawrence. “We are full steam in making sure we have taken every step we can to be as prepared as we can for whatever the outcome of this viral infection is in our community.”

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