An West Island resident, who chose to remain anonymous, was tested for COVID-19 on March 12, after experiencing flu-like symptoms. After travelling to the Caribbean Islands of St. Martin, he noticed he was feeling slightly feverish with a sore throat.
“After a couple of days of sore throat and a cough five days after I returned home from St. Martin, I felt warm but not extremely warm,” he explained in an interview with the West Island Blog. “I did not realize I was feverish right away; I just wanted to remove layers of clothing at first. I knew I was getting the flu so I called my physician. It felt like I was breathing through a snorkle.”
The man consulted his family doctor, who suggested he call 811. After several hours on hold, he called his doctor back. The doctor instructed him to go to the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) to be tested for COVID-19. The JGH is one of the hospitals in the city designated by the health ministry to receive such patients. To be clear, not everyone who calls is tested. You need to fall under certain criteria.
“The doctor told me that he had enough information to send me to the Jewish General Hospital for testing,” he explained in a voice that was clearly suffering from a cold. “The new section of the hospital is very impressive. Much like the emergency room at the Glen Super Hospital, the rooms are lined up around central administration atrium. The isolation rooms are glass letting the patients see out, and the staff see in.”
The new Pavilion K opened in 2016 on Légaré St, includes an innovative emergency department; a surgery unit with 18 operating rooms; a day hospital; two floors of intensive and coronary care; a cardiac catheterization suite; the departments of obstetrics and neonatology; six floors of care units totalizing 152 single rooms, including one floor for 24 isolation beds. (Jewish General Website)
“As soon as I walked into the hospital, they asked me the usual questions we have all heard. Have you travelled recently? Do you have the chills? Sore throat? My symptoms included coughing and lung pain. It wasn’t long before I found myself in a bed in isolation. The rooms have a sticky mat in front of the door to catch any particles that may drop when entering or leaving. The doctors and nurses must follow a rigorous protocol to enter the room. It takes several minutes to dress and undress before they enter the isolation chambers that are the rooms. They wash their hands and the gloves themselves after removing each piece of protective gear.”
He went on to describe the protective gear to include an N-95 mask, a face shield, a gown, gloves, and shoe covers. He also noted that the nurses appeared frustrated with the fit of the gloves as they prepared to go in and out of the rooms.
“Sadly, it was a very long process to be tested. The whole process from start to finish took ten hours,” the patient said. “They did blood tests, and they swabbed the inside of my nose with what looked like a mascara applicator. The trouble is every time they come to check you; they have to go through the process of gearing up. It is time-consuming so they do it as little as possible. I was there 9 hours before I could get a glass of water.”
The 10th floor of Pavilion K is designated for infectious outbreaks like COVID-19. The intensive care unit and the entire 10th floor is equipped with a negative pressure ventilation system. According to CHT, a negative pressure room in a hospital is used to contain airborne contaminants within the room. Isolation rooms are negatively pressurized with respect to adjacent areas to prevent airborne contaminants from drifting to other areas and contaminating patients, staff and sterile equipment.
Testing results will take a few days to complete. The patient never got through to 811 by phone.
The new number to call if you feel you might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 is 1 877 644-4545 . DO NOT PRESENT TO THE JGH – go to your local hospital if concern is great.