A look inside a Bay Area hospital’s isolation room for potential coronavirus patients

Bay Area hospitals are preparing for a possible influx of coronavirus patients. A KTVU crew was allowed inside an isolation room at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. It's one of dozens ready to accept patients.

Officials said the isolation rooms are in different parts of the hospital including some in the intensive care unit. These rooms have previously been used mostly for patients with measles and tuberculosis. 

In total, there are 48 isolation rooms that will be able to house patients who require separation due to infection from the coronavirus. They include one room specifically for a child and another for an infant. 

"Even if we have high numbers, we don't expect everyone to be terribly sick and would need hospital care," said Dr. Lisa Winston, an epidemiologist with Zuckerberg SF General. 

Still, Dr. Winston said there is a plan in place that includes the isolation rooms. 

She showed a KTVU crew one such room with two doors. One leads to an area where the medical staff can put on the necessary personal protective gear. Beyond the second door is where the patient is kept. 

There is monitoring equipment, connections for oxygen and other gases, specialized lighting and a patient lift.  

"We've been meeting daily to do planning. We have folks from hospital administration, infection control, our emergency department, nursing and other departments," said Dr. Winston. 

So far, no cases have ben treated at SF General. But should there be a large outbreak where there are more patients than the hospital has room for,  Dr. Winston said they have done what she described as emergency surge planning for disaster response.

She said there would be coordination with local and state public health officials. 

"Emergency plans to use spaces in the hospital in different ways than we normally would," said Dr. Winston,"Triage and caring for the sickest patients at the hospital level, whether there are people well enough that they may be cared for at home." 

The doctor said the best way to prevent infection, is for people to wash their hands frequently.  

She said wearing a mask is a good idea for those who are sick, but that a mask is unlikely to offer much protective against becoming infected.