Harris Health hospitals to begin screening patients for coronavirus starting Monday

HOUSTON – Beginning Monday, Harris Health (which includes Lyndon B. Johnson and Ben Taub hospitals) said they will begin screening patients and visitors at all points of entry for travel to affected areas, and symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Concerns over the coronavirus are also prompting changes to hospital policies.

HCA Houston healthcare said patients can only have two visitors at a time between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Women in labor and patients in the pediatric ward and the neonatal ICU can have one overnight visitor.

HCA said all visitors entering the building will be asked about recent travel and current health information. They’ll be looking for folks who have traveled to any of the affected areas with outbreaks of coronavirus.

“We’re asking them very simple questions,” Kelli Nations, the chief nurse executive of HCA Houston Healthcare, said. “Are they experiencing any flu-like symptoms? Have they been exposed to the COVID-19 virus with anyone within six feet, and have they traveled to any of those CDC hotspots?”

At the University of Texas Medical Branch, researchers are working to develop a vaccine.

“We’re still in the very early stages. we’re talking about working in mice,” Jim LeDuc, MD, the director of Galveston National Laboratory, said.

LeDuc told KPRC 2 it’ll be at least a year before a vaccine is available, but in the meantime, UTMB scientists aim to contain the spread by developing anti-viral drugs.

“I’m very hopeful that in a matter of a few months, we might have some real data that demonstrates new drugs that can be used to treat patients,” LeDuc said.

The Harris Health system includes 18 community health centers, five same-day clinics, five school-based clinics, three multi-specialty clinic locations, a dental center and dialysis center, mobile health units and two full-service hospitals.

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