On Monday, March 2, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. hospital officials at Northwest Community Hospital held a press conference roadside on a Central Road parkway with the hospital’s new tower as a backdrop, and road noise overpowering much of the press conference. Press members had to gather at the roadside presser apparently under 69kV power lines that run overhead along the parkway. The speaker chosen by NCH to lead the press conference was Dr. Daniel Reaven, M.D., who is Medical Director of the Emergency Department — and an Emergency Medicine physician that works for Vituity, a medical staffing company that provides medical staffing for the hospital. No experts in infectious disease, and no officials from CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, or the Cook County Department of Public Health were introduced or available for discussion at the press conference.
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Dr. Reaven confirmed that on Saturday, Northwest Community Hospital received confirmation that an admitted patient tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. The test conducted in Illinois is known as a Presumptive Positive for the coronavirus. The positive test results will have to be confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC). The results of the CDC test were anticipated later today. Dr. Reaven said the patient is doing very well.
He added that the hospital is working very closely with the task forces from the CDC, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Lake County Health Department, and Cook County Department of Public Health,
Dr. Reaven said the hospital’s top priority will be to keep patients, staff and the community safe at all times.
He said an emergency command center has been established within the hospital to provide around the clock, real-time solutions and information. The press conference lasted less than 2 1/2 minutes, and many post-conference questions were not answered. The entire press engagement with Northwest Community Hospital was less than 4 minutes.
Dr. Reaven cut off questions by WGN’s Patrick Elwood, who politely asked for general terms about where the patient was located in the weeks and days leading up to coming here at Northwest Community Hospital. Dr. Reaven replied that the question’s response involved personal protective information for that particular patient, and walked away from the mic stand while press members were still asking questions. Dr. Reaven also refused to answer whether any health workers had any unprotected contact with the patient.
The press conference did not reveal the gender, age or hometown of the patient.
Another reporter asked whether the hospital was restricting access for anyone. Last night ABC 7 Chicago had reported that the hospital was restricting access to visitors less than 18 (or 18 and under?) on their broadcast in the 10 PM slot. The reporter also asked where people could get an answer to that question if they need it. Both of those questions were left unanswered as Dr. Reaven and 6 other men and women accompanying him walked away and ignored reporters.
At least one hour before the NCH press conference, the IDPH on Monday, March 2, 2020 released information that confirmed that the third Illinois COVID-19 patient is a male in his 70s, and released information that a fourth patient also tested positive for COVID-19. The fourth Illinois COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 70s, who is the wife of the third Illinois COVID-19 patient, according to the IDPH.
At the press conference, Dr. Reaven neglected to mention that a female patient (the 4th Illinois COVID-19 patient) existed.
The IDPH reported that both patients are in good condition.
Northwest Community Hospital officials issued a statement Monday morning March 2, 2020 that a patient diagnosed with coronavirus infection was in quarantine at the hospital and they are working with state and federal health agencies regarding the patient’s treatment. The press conference provided barely any additional information.
The morning statment said the patient, who is the third person in Illinois diagnosed with the Novel coronavirus, is being treated at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.
Initially on Saturday, February 29, 2020, the public was only informed that an Illinois patient was diagnosed with coronavirus somewhere in suburban Cook County. With the Monday morning statement from Northwest Community Hospital, the age, gender and hometown of the patient were still unknown, but the patient was believed to be a man in his 70s according to other sources.
Internally, a letter to medical staff was sent out Saturday, February 29, 2020 that stated the hospital had admitted a patient that tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus and that the hospital was implementing necessary crisis management protocols. The letter stated that infectious disease specialists are working with the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The letter also stated that there are many individuals that are affected by this situation, but it wasn’t clear if that meant only many staff members within the hospital were affected.
The public statement Monday morning from Northwest Community Hospital reported, “NCH is closely following recommended guidelines outlined by these officials. At the moment we are implementing all associated protocols, including an exposure investigation, to identify those who might have had contact with this patient in order to treat them accordingly. Along with this patient, our top priority will remain to keep our staff and community safe at all times.”
Initially, it is unknown how the third or fourth Illinois patients were infected.
A Chicago couple were the first and second coronavirus patients in Illinois. They were also the first known case of human-to-human transmission in the United States. The man (the second Illinois case/January 30, 2020) contracted the virus from his wife (the first Illinois case who was also the second United States case/January 24, 2020). The man had not recently travelled to China. Both were treated at AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates and released back to their home where their health was monitored daily under the guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
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