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Ashland doctor creates med-shed for possible virus patients

Seeking to increase protection of staff and patients from coronavirus, Ashland physician Sylvia Chatroux has created a tiny “med-shed” in her parking lot where she can examine anyone who calls in with COVID-19 symptoms or anything having to do with upper respiratory infection.

The 6-by-10-foot shed is a necessary step forward in “social distancing” — and makes regular patients feel safer when entering a medical setting, says Chatroux, who has been a doctor here since 1994.

The med-shed is propane heated, lit by natural light from above and was built in three days by a contractor friend for $1,600.

No COVID-19 patients have shown up yet. If any are diagnosed, she adds, they will be sent immediately to an emergency room in Medford.

There have been four confirmed COVID-19 cases in Jackson County and 210 cases across the state.

The med-shed is not the only new twist in preventing contagion. Medicare has begun allowing doctors to examine patients at home, on Skype or FaceTime. It’s called tele-med. And this, she adds, has been helpful for the elderly, saving them trips and possible exposure to compromising ailments.

In the same vein, Chatroux and her family nurse practitioner, Tara Frazier Rice, have been putting on surgical masks and gloves, popping out into the parking lot, seeing patients in cars, taking vital signs, getting basic info and writing prescriptions, if it’s not necessary to bring them inside.

“Our goal is to do a lot of phone triage,” says Rice, “and the shed is a great idea, allowing us to mask up, see patients, then decontaminate when we come back in. As a health care worker, you feel you might be exposed at some point, and the idea is to protect everyone.”

Chatroux said the med-shed idea came to her two weeks ago, “when I realized the best way to examine a patient is outside, but we were having a cold spell. I saw a comfortable outdoor setting. We thought about a tent, but no, that’s not a good thing. But a shed is. It’s heated and allows for maximum sanitary conditions in the office. The shed is well ventilated and can be aired out quickly. We decontaminate it and give patients a mask before they enter it.”

Chatroux adds that the med-shed is a catch-all for any type of upper respiratory infection. “We don’t know what they have when we ask them to go in there or when we see them in the parking lot. We just don’t see anyone in the office if they have symptoms like a fever, dry cough, congestion, etc.”

The shed was built by friend and contractor Larry Scripter and his son Gavin.

“It’s adorable,” notes Chatroux. “A solid shed and it has a lovely Persian rug, donated by Old World Artifacts on Fourth Street. I was so excited when the idea came to me. It’s so minimalist. It’s tiny but feels adequate. No one lies down. There are no magazines. No one pulls off their clothes.”

Jamie Lusch / Ashland TidingsDr Sylvia Chatroux created a med-shed in the parking lot so possible corona patients social distance from staff or other patients.