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AVRMC is safe

Staff Writer
LA Junta Tribune

Contributed by Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center

From the first time we heard about a virus spreading in China, AVRMC started preparing our nfacility to ensure our patients and staffs safety should the Novel Coronavirus spread to the United States. Even before it was identified in Colorado, AVRMC had a plan in place and was working diligently towards readiness as regulations were released, testing criteria evolved, and the virus, now widely known as COVID-19, hit the world.

What does that mean for our community? It means that it is safe for you to come to doctors’ appointments, get your labs/x-rays/mammograms and schedule that elective surgery that you were planning on having prior to COVID-19.

AVRMC has worked diligently with the state and local health departments to stay ahead of the safety measures needed to provide quality care in a healthy environment. Your visit may look different with the strict safety measures but what doesn’t in a world with COVID-19? From the time you walk in the front doors you will see these measures in place to ensure the health and safety of our staff and community. Everyone is screened at the front door for temperature and symptoms. Everyone is in a mask and direct caregivers are in eye protection too, everyone has access to hand sanitizer, and the waiting rooms have been reworked to ensure social distancing.

These are the visible basics that are the new norm for most businesses. The behind the scenes changes, to keep everyone safe, are most remarkable and in lieu of a tour here is what you should know.

Our hospital has 6 permanent negative pressure rooms that pull air into the room so that microbes do not escape – these high-tech rooms vent HEPA filtered air directly outside. We have 2 stand up rooms with portable HEPA filtration for suspect COVID patients – including one isolated in our OB department, just in case a mom and baby would need that specialized care.

We have erected temporary walls to prevent any cross contamination in our trauma bays and set up a separate wing on our medical surgical floor with dedicated staff to take care of any suspect or confirmed COVID patients that are admitted. We have advanced our Respiratory Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, for nursing, doctors, and respiratory care staff to PAPR’s (Powered Air Purifying Respirators). These hoods, hoses and HEPA filtered waist packs make them look a little like astronauts but keep them safer and that means the patients they care for are also safer.

Staff underwent extensive training over the last 6 months on everything from donning (putting on) and doffing(taking off) PPE to enhanced cleaning practices to “drills” on how to safely maneuver a COVID-19 positive patient in need of emergency surgery. We invested in UV light disinfecting boxes for staff and patient equipment and changed to cleaners that have shorter “dwell” times (meaning the amount of time it takes to kill bacteria and viruses). We beefed up our cleaning staff and even retrained staff to use certain stairwells to allow housekeeping to focus on higher traffic areas. We have limited access through a main entry so that all staff and visitors are screened EVERY time they enter the building.

We are testing all pre-op patients and all admissions for COVID-19 to prevent an asymptomatic person from entering the facility and to ensure that every patient gets the care and treatment they need. All testing for outpatient situations is done “drive through style” which, although not as fun as a visit to Sonic, keeps staff and patients safer. We even reconfigured our heating and air conditioning system to prevent recirculation of air and purchased portable “air scrubbers” that use HEPA filtration AND UV lights to “clear the air” in the Emergency Room and anywhere on campus.

This was all done in anticipation of COVID-19 not in reaction to…we have been prepared in case you or a loved one need it. We have not, thankfully, needed all of these measures, but all these safety measures mean that our services and even your most basic needs – annual exams, lab tests, sleep studies, stress tests, surgeries, doctors visits, mammograms, pulmonary function tests - are done safely in a truly healthy environment.

Please do not postpone your routine care, do not delay necessary care, do not put off tests or procedures, and do not hesitate to schedule your surgery – we are ready for you and whatever comes our way. You can be assured when you come to AVRMC that measures above and beyond recommendations and regulations have been implemented, it is safe to come here for all your healthcare needs. Thank you for letting us care for you and your loved ones now and in the future, we are devoted to our community and its health and safety.

Kimberly Montejano, RN, DNS-CT

AVRMC Infection Preventionist