We encourage our readers to send us questions. Questions can be about the current COVID-19 crisis or other matters. We received two questions last week from readers.
One reader asked how many ventilators are available in the county.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to find an exact number. As of April 15, Hernando County has had 16 hospitalizations of COVID-19 positive residents. There have been a total of 73 positive cases and 2 deaths.
On March 24, Jennifer Siem with Bayfront Hospital stated, “As you know, the COVID-19 outbreak has had a major impact on the healthcare industry in a very short period of time. Hospitals and medical offices across the country are experiencing changes in their day-to-day operations, patient volumes, scheduling, screening of patients, procurement of supplies, and staffing practices. With the state order to suspend elective surgeries and the public’s increased caution during this uncertain time, our hospital is seeing fewer patients than we normally do this time of year.
“Regarding supplies, our hospital is well prepared to support patients during testing and treatment for coronavirus - and all of our patients. We are also actively working with national, state and local resources on a daily basis to ensure that we have adequate quantities of medical grade PPE and all the supplies needed to keep everyone safe.”
Siem commented on April 9, "Our hospital is preparing to respond to the potential surge in patients and we are reviewing our inventory and protocols regularly as CDC guidance is revised. We’re working in concert with the health department and they have the best picture of what resources are available in our community and region. Our inventory of ventilators is sufficient for the patients in our care at this time."
Katie Stacey at Oak Hill hospital stated, “At this time, Oak Hill Hospital has the equipment and supplies we need to care for our patients and our community. We are doing everything in our power to help ensure we continue to have enough equipment, including ventilators, in the event of a patient surge. Ensuring we have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect our caregivers as they provide care to patients is also a priority. Monitoring and reporting 24/7 on everything from staffing, to supplies and equipment continues with our emergency operations centers in our hospitals, division and HCA Healthcare corporate levels. If additional equipment is needed, we will communicate to our emergency operations center to provide additional support.”
On March 22, 2020 a news release from the FDA states, “... the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took significant action to help increase the availability of ventilators and accessories, as well as other respiratory devices, during the COVID-19 pandemic to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing.”
The news release goes on to explain that the FDA is not enforcing the premarket review requirement for certain modifications on ventilator production like adding wireless or bluetooth capabilities. The premarket reviews add time to when the product becomes available for use.
Premarket reviews are also triggered by changes to suppliers or materials. By forgoing the premarket review, non-medical device manufacturers such as car manufacturers are able to assist in making ventilator parts. This will allow ventilator manufacturers to more easily add production lines or partner with alternative suppliers to meet production needs.
Guidance issued also allows hospitals to repurpose ventilators that are designated for transport and use ventilators beyond their recommended shelf life. The FDA also suggested methods on utilizing CPAP machines that are typically used for sleep apnea.
The FDA is also encouraging manufacturers, both foreign and domestic to pursue an emergency use authorization (EUA) which would allow manufacturers who may have previously made medical devices to distribute their ventilators in the United States.
Another question we received is whether we should wash fruits and vegetables with soapy water for 20 seconds to decontaminate them?
Keith Schneider, a UF/IFAS professor of food safety says, “No. There is no evidence of foodborne transfer of COVID-19. Ingestion of soap and detergents can could gastrointestinal distress.”
Amy Simonne, UF professor of food safety and quality, states, “Some doctors tell people to wash fruit and vegetables with soap. This is a “no-no.” Here are tips from the FDA that UF/IFAS Extension recommends:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
- If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
- Rinse produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.”
You can send your question to [email protected]