Doctors and nurses are risking their own health every day as they work to diagnose and treat patients, including those with coronavirus.
To keep themselves safe, they wear personal protective equipment, or PPE, with patients who show serious symptoms.
On Thursday, two employees from the emergency room at Decatur Morgan Hospital showed WAAY 31 what that equipment entails and how it protects them.
"That is how we protect our health care workers from the spread of diseases and illnesses such as COVID-19," said Carrie Wynn, the Director of Emergency Services.
Gown gloves, a face shield, and an N95 respiratory mask customized to fit each employee.
It's equipment that protects medical employees from contact with droplets of bodily fluids that come from patient coughs and sneezes.
"It's very important to protect our health care workers. We're going to need our front line health care workers in the field to be able to take care of the patients as we start to see a sicker population in our area," said Wynn.
Since Friday, Decatur-Morgan Hospital took specimens from 25 people with coronavirus symptoms. But the hospital says it can't test everyone who comes in with just minor symptoms.
"We have to maintain good supply of those now, but if we had a rush of people who weren't symptomatic wanting to be tested and we just opened that up then we have a problem," said Ed Nichols, the Community Relations Consultant for Decatur-Morgan Hospital.
"The patients that need to present themselves to the hospital are the people who are having severe respiratory symptoms. They are having difficulty breathing, a high grade fever with pain , chest tightness," said Wynn.
A new drive thru system is in place to separate severely ill patients from non emergencies in the hospital,
"We go out to your car at the drive thru. We take your information, we have you park and as soon as all of your paperwork is done we come out to your car, put your arm band on and take you straight to where you need to go," said Nichols.
With all of these protocols in place, nurses and doctors in the ER at Decatur-Morgan Hospital tell us they're just trying to protect the health and safety of their employees and any patients that comes into their facility.
Hospitals are reiterating how important it is that patients who do not have severe symptoms stay away from emergency rooms.
But if you are having chest pain, shortness of breath, or a high grade fever to get help immediately.
If your symptoms are not urgent, they advise you to contact your physician before coming to a hospital.
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