Loma Linda hospital ready for flu, coronavirus outbreaks with military-grade medical tent

LOMA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- In the midst of a busy flu season, local hospitals are also preparing for the possibility of encountering the novel coronavirus.

At Loma Linda University Medical Center, a 750-square-foot military-grade medical tent is always ready for all infectious disease emergencies.

The hospital sets this tent up every winter to deal with the overflow of flu patients, but a couple of weeks ago the tent came in handy for a suspected coronavirus case.

"There was a family that had come over from Hong Kong that was here, that was seen in the Corona area," Dr. Adrian Cotton said. "And there was some concerns that they might have been exposed and so they were sent up here for us to evaluate them."

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Doctors are reminding the public that influenza is far more dangerous and widespread than coronavirus, with more than 10,000 flu-related deaths per year in the United States.

However, that family tested negative for virus, which originated in Wuhan, China and has resulted in hundreds of deaths.

Located just outside the emergency entrance, the tent is equipped for infection control. Large HEPA filters suck out all the air with potential contaminants and then filters it before it goes outside. It simultaneously brings in clean, fresh air.

"So the way this tent is set up right now, we are able to do negative air pressure in it. It's got HEPA filters so the air cycles out of the tent multiple times," Cotton said.

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If doctors come across additional suspected novel coronavirus cases, a tent like this will continue to prove helpful. However, Cotton adds that people should be more concerned about the flu.

"Make sure you wash your hands, try not to touch your nose and mouth after touching something. If you haven't been vaccinated for the flu, get vaccinated, there's still a value to it," he said. "And right now in Southern California, the flu is much more of a concern than the novel coronavirus."
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