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Everett nurse talks about treating first coronavirus patient in the country

The first coronavirus, or COVID-19, patient in the U.S. was a Snohomish County man. Robin Addison is a nurse at Providence Everett who helped treat that patient.

EVERETT, Wash. — Robin Addison has been a nurse for 30 years and has trained for just about every scenario. So when the coronavirus, now called COVID-19, arrived at her hospital in Everett, she was prepared for the worst.

The first patient with COVID-19 in the U.S. was a Snohomish County man in his 30s. He was brought to Everett's Providence Regional Medical Center last month for treatment.

"Everyone was a little bit nervous, a little excited and ready to go," said Addison.

Addison leads the Biocontainment Evaluation and Specialty Treatment (BEST) team at Providence Everett.

It's a team that was put together 5 years ago when the world was concerned about another potential pandemic.

"At the time we didn't know what the coronavirus was," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jay Cook. "No one had really heard of it. But we did prepare for ebola which is a highly infectious agent."

The team had just completed their latest round of training two weeks prior to the Snohomish County patient's arrival at the hospital.

The man was transported in an isolation pod to a room where air vents suck out instead of blowing in. Anyone who entered the room was required to wear special respirators and stuck to a strict decontamination protocol before leaving. 

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While Addison was in the room with the patient, doctors would speak with him through a video link and listen to his heart and lungs with a remote Bluetooth stethoscope.

"The idea is to keep the number of people who go in and out of that room as low as possible," said Addison. "I was a bit nervous. We had concerns. My biggest concern was just making sure that nobody on my team got sick."

Nobody did get sick and the patient went home after 17 days in isolation.

"There was a big sigh of relief and then a lot of clean up," said Addison.

If there is another COVID-19 case in western Washington, Providence Everett is prepared to take it. Officials said they would likely be able to handle multiple patients, if necessary.

For Addison and the entire Providence team, it was an experience unlike any other and one they'll be even more prepared for if there is a next time.

"The virus certainly isn't going away," Addison said. "Even if it's not coronavirus, we need to be concerned that there's always another virus down the road. There's always something else."

RELATED: San Juan County person being tested for 2019 coronavirus

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