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Sacramento nurse gets tested for coronavirus, raises concerns about state-wide testing ability

The 41-year-old woman fell ill last week and showed symptoms of the coronavirus including a fever, cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

PLACER COUNTY, Calif. — A Sacramento area healthcare worker is sounding the alarm after her experience being tested for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The registered nurse from Roseville who spoke to ABC 10 under the condition of anonymity was tested for the coronavirus Thursday at the Sutter Roseville Hospital. There have been at-least three confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Placer County, including one man who died. Those cases have been linked to people who returned from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was later barred from returning to port after authorities learned of cases linked to the ship.

The 41-year-old woman fell ill last week and showed symptoms of the coronavirus, including a fever, cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath, she said. Both she and her 14-year-old daughter are in self-quarantine while they await the results of their coronavirus tests.


As a healthcare employee who works with the elderly in Sacramento County, the woman said she wanted to be tested for the virus out of an abundance of caution for the public and for the people she cares for. After being treated by her primary care provider for 48 hours, the woman was sent to the emergency department at Sutter Roseville Hospital because there are no tests available at the primary care level.

The coronavirus testing center at Sutter Roseville is located in an outdoor isolation tent, which the nurse believes did not follow proper guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] recommends medical providers take specific steps when interacting with someone suspected of having the novel coronavirus. Those include isolating patients from the general patient population and providing masks, tissues, and hand sanitizer, the CDC recommends. 

“In some settings, medically-stable patients might opt to wait in a personal vehicle or outside the healthcare facility where they can be contacted by mobile phone when it is their turn to be evaluated,” the CDC wrote.

The nurse says there was no place to wash her hands, no available hand sanitizer, and no tissues or a place to put them. The outdoor isolation tent was not heated and became uncomfortably cold, it had uncomfortable seating, and no access to bathrooms.

Officials with Sutter Health told ABC10 its teams are trained and equipped to provide high-quality care while also protecting patients, visitors and hospital care team members.

“Sutter Roseville erected a tent in order to prepare for a potential surge in patients and to screen respiratory illnesses away from the general population,” Amy Thoma Tan, Director of Public Affairs for Sutter Health, said. “We encourage patients without life-threatening symptoms to utilize options like video visits or our nurse advise line prior to visiting the emergency room.”

The hospital group is working closely with county, state, and federal agencies including county departments of health and the CDC to address the novel coronavirus.


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