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Coronavirus Outbreak House Calls: Dr. John Chessare

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Laura Tenbus

March 17, 2020
*This is a rapidly changing situation. This video was filmed on March 17, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC website at*

As the COVID-19 virus is spreading, it’s important to know fact from fiction. To help answer your questions, WMAR-2 News hosted house calls for members of the public to ask healthcare experts about the current COVID-19 situation. John Chessare, MD, MPH, President and CEO of GBMC HealthCare discusses how GBMC is responding to the outbreak.

Have there been any cases of COVID-19 at GBMC?

There have been two confirmed COVID-19 cases at GBMC and, as of March 17, there are 12 patients waiting for the results of their test to come back. It’s possible that these patients have a different respiratory illness or influenza, but we don’t know that at this time. Both patients with confirmed cases are at home recovering.

What is the purpose of the tents outside of the Emergency Department (ED)?

We are using tents to triage patients who are showing respiratory symptoms before they enter the building. If you come to GBMC, you will be approached by a nurse who will ask you why you’ve come. If you arrive with respiratory symptoms, you will be escorted to one of these tents to be seen.

We are taking this precaution to prevent infected persons from entering the building and contaminating the environment or infecting other people. The worst-case scenario would be to have a mildly infected person enter our building and infect our healthcare workers. This would cause a staff shortage and make it extremely difficult for us to care for the people who really need medical treatment.

Is GBMC a COVID-19 testing site?

GBMC is currently testing patients for COVID-19; however, we are only testing a specific group of patients. We have set up a drive-through specimen collection site that is only for patients of our healthcare system who have an order from a GBMC provider. Testing is being done on an appointment-only basis.

What can the public do to help?

There is no direct medical treatment for COVID-19, so people with mild symptoms should not come to the hospital. We want to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to our healthcare workers and to other patients.

If you’re having mild symptoms, you should stay at home and call your primary care provider or the Maryland Coronavirus Hotline at 211. GBMC is also making telemedicine available for patients who wish to talk to their provider, but do not want to come into the hospital or office.

*Click here for more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)*
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