What's Duke doing to keep people safe? Answers to your COVID-19 questions

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dr. Lisa Pickett, chief medical officer at Duke University Hospital, joined ABC11 for a live chat Thursday to answer some of your questions about the coronavirus outbreak. Watch the full session in the media player above.

She addressed the new guidelines that ask anyone with mild symptoms not to get a test and stay at home.

"As we begun to see community spread ... those with mild illness have no specific treatment, so they should go home and call their care providers ... they don't need always to get a test," Pickett said. "We need to reserve those for those patients who are hospitalized ... I think those are the best practices."

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Pickett also said Duke University Hospital is doing everything it can to keep staff and patients safe, including adding more hand-washing stations in the hospital and encouraging social distancing, keeping staff and visitors separate as well as implementing strict visitation policies.

A partial transcript of the Q&A is below:

A lot of people are concerned about the strain this is putting on the health care system.

So, we continue to see patients who are infected with COVID and who are concerned about it and we want to be sure that we protect our staff properly while providing excellent care for them. So, during this time we're very carefully trying to obtain protective equipment as well as to use it in the best and most appropriate ways to care for our patients and keep our staff safe. We do know that likely we will see more and more cases and so we want to be sure that we have enough protective equipment to keep our staff safe in the future as they continue to use this.

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What is Duke doing to protect patients and staff and the centers?
So, a lot of the things we reinforce at the hospital are things people should be doing at home. We encourage our staff every single day to wash or cleanse their hands frequently. We're trying to keep our staff and visitors separated, social distance of 6 feet to protect them from transmitting to each other and also have put up extra handwashing and hand hygiene stations throughout the hospital. We made the very difficult decision to significantly limit visitation to essentially no visitors for routine patients throughout their hospital stay, and this is very hard for us because we're very devoted to patient- and family-centered care but in this setting, it's very important that we limit the number of people coming into the hospital who may not realize that they're sick and transmit illness to our vulnerable and sick patient population.
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