Red eyes in nursing home residents may be a telltale sign of coronavirus, according to a nurse on the front lines at a Washington state skilled nursing facility.
Chelsey Earnest, a registered nursing at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, explained that most of the sickest COVID-19 patients all seemed to have red eyes. More specifically, she described it as residents having red eye shadows around the outside of the eyes.
“We’ve had patients that just had the red eyes as the only symptom that we saw and go to the hospital and pass away,” Earnest told CNN.
“I’ve even had the disaster medical control physician say, ‘Do they have the red eyes?’ And I will say yes. And he’ll say, ‘I’ll find you a bed.’ It’s just something about this, the way that it affects these patients,” she added.
Earnest said that other notable symptoms, like a dry cough, was also a clue if a resident was positive for the disease. She added that staff members would share what they observed with local doctors, and state and federal agencies.
“I started following the coughs and I was writing down all the symptoms I saw in these patients. They all clinically presented about the same — their respiratory rate would be very high, their oxygen saturation would be very low,” she said.
The Life Care Center of Kirkland was the first site of the coronavirus in the United States. A recent federal investigation revealed that more than 80 residents, 34 staff members and 14 visitors have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of March. Twenty-six people have died.