Texas hospital chief says COVID-19 more serious threat than Ebola
The head of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council says COVID-19 is a far more serious threat than the deadly Ebola virus that killed thousands.
Stephen Love, president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, said Ebola has a higher mortality rate than COVID-19 but is much less contagious. In the largest Ebola outbreak, 11,343 died.
Yet people can more easily contract hepatitis C than Ebola, Love said.
“COVID-19 is five to six times more contagious than the flu,” Love said Thursday. “When you have a contagious rate that high, it can create havoc.”
Love spoke about COVID-19 during a conference call with the Irving- Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce. Love said he has seen several viral outbreaks and other medical emergencies in his 35 years of health care management.
But COVID -19 is more intimidating than past epidemics because the virus has touched every corner of the country and has wide-ranging impacts on health care and the economy, Love said.
“We’ve never seen anything quite like this, this can be really devastating,” Love said. “It’s not just hitting one section of the county, like say, a hurricane. This is all over and we will face a significant surge in the next few weeks. Everyone’s got to do their part to deal with it.”
The 90-member hospital council began preparing for the COVID-19 outbreak as early as January by acquiring more PPEs, hospital gowns and other equipment needed to fight a spread. They also began piecing together a plan to deal with a surge of patients and working with local officials for a community-wide response.
A vaccination for the novel coronavirus is still months away, given that it would have to be screened by federal health officials, Love said. Next year, people may have to be given a COVID-19 shot along with a yearly flu vaccination.
The arrival of COVID-19 has spurred the development of telemedicine in which patients can call a doctor either via computer or over the telephone, Love said. Because of their convenience, telemedicine conferences are more frequent and allow more comprehensive follow up with patients, he said.
The COVID-19 spread, however, is putting heavy financial pressure on already strained rural hospitals. Those facilities are especially hurt by the elimination of elective surgeries during the COVID-19 emergency.
“So many of these rural hospitals depend on elective surgeries as solid revenue stream,” Love said. “And now they have lost that big line of revenue. They may not recover from that.”