Wayne Memorial Hospital began preparing for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients more than six weeks ago. Since then, the hospital has admitted and treated both confirmed positive patients and “persons under investigation,” a Centers for Disease Control term referring to people who may have been exposed. Some patients were able to be discharged to home after treatment and evaluation. As of this date, several patients remain in the isolation unit. The number changes daily, according to hospital officials. ***
“We turned a former patient unit on our third floor in our older hospital building into a ‘containment unit,’ complete with infection-control barrier walls and negative-pressure rooms,” said James Pettinato, RN, director of Patient Care Services. Negative pressure rooms are designed to assure contaminated air does not pass into adjoining hallways or other rooms.
The third floor unit also offers decompression changing rooms to assure staff can safely strip out of their multiple layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and are “clean” when they exit the unit.
Pettinato added that so far, the hospital has had enough ventilators for its needs, although staff is preparing for possible shortages. “There are some creative options out there,” he said, “which we are investigating.”
Wayne Memorial’s Chief Executive Officer noted that in addition to staff being specially trained for treating COVID-19 patients, they are very aware of keeping the rest of their patient population safe in the crisis.
“We have cancelled elective surgeries, but we have not closed our doors to patients in need. Whether they have a chronic disease or an emergency or are expecting a baby, Wayne Memorial stands ready to treat them—and keep them out of harm’s way.”
Hoff admits however that the hospital’s focus has been on COVID -19. In addition to the containment unit for patients stricken with the coronavirus, the hospital has created plexi-glass barriers at registration areas, limited hospital access to two entryways, closed some outpatient off-site offices, set up screening stations and temperature-taking protocols and required all staff to be masked while in the hospital.
“The community has really stepped up to help us,” said Hoff, “making masks and barrier gowns and even aerosol boxes to help keep our medical staff safe when they intubate a patient for ventilation.”
*** A WNEP-TV report on April 2nd erroneously stated that Wayne Memorial had no COVID-19 patients. The reporter apologized and corrected the error in subsequent reports and on the WNEP website.