North Memorial Works to Contain Spread of COVID-19
As the COVID-19 crisis stretches on, area hospitals are still on the front lines fighting the disease. At North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, workers are taking extra precautions to contain the spread of the disease.
“I was in the hospital for the first time today in a couple of weeks,” said North Memorial spokesperson Katy Sullivan.
Sullivan, like many Minnesotans, has been working from home.
“What I noticed as someone who hasn’t been there as the changes have been implemented is how quiet it is.”
Quiet because most visitors aren’t allowed in the building, and elective and non-essential procedures have been deferred until the crisis is over. In addition to physical changes such as plexiglass barriers between welcome desk workers and the public, cleaning has taken an even bigger role than it usually does.
“For us, this comes pretty naturally,” said Stephanie Swanson, the hospital’s infection prevention manager. As with most hospitals North Memorial already had a robust disinfection program in place, but has added additional protocols to handle the coronavirus.
“Patient care areas where we care for patients with COVID-19 or potential COVID-19, we have our environmental services team spending more time,” said Swanson.
Using Ultraviolet Technology
The hospital uses ultraviolet technology, or UV, to disinfect areas. They have used UV before the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s being used even more now.
“We use the UV disinfection for all of our patient discharges,” said Swanson.
After a patient leaves a room, it’s disinfected by workers trained in using UV-emitting devices safely and effectively.
While UV technology doesn’t need replacing, disposable disinfectant wipes do. Disinfecting wipes used to clean public and employee areas are in limited supply.
“We could use some disinfecting wipes from the public,” said Sullivan. “If people have stockpiled, or extra Clorox or Lysol or other disinfecting wipes at home, we would be most appreciative.”
The hospital is also looking for protective equipment. Face masks and eye protection are especially needed. Some donors have been 3D printing face masks at home to donate. Anyone wanting to join them can click here for printer files and instructions.
“The public has been amazingly generous,” said Sullivan. “Both individuals and organizations have contributed supplies and masks.”
Don’t Avoid the Hospital If You Need It
One thing the hospital wants to make clear is that patients with urgent medical needs shouldn’t avoid the hospital because of the coronavirus.
“There’s been conversation that the public is hesitant to come to the hospital when they need care because they’re concerned about COVID-19,” said Sullivan. “We urge people who are experiencing chest pains, symptoms of stroke, come to the hospital.”
As the outbreak stretches into late spring, and perhaps summer or longer, hospital workers aren’t sure when things will settle down, but they are sure that when they get “back to normal,” it will be a new normal.
“We can expect there’s going to be significant changes to our routine practices in the future,” said Swanson. “Things we never did before will just become commonplace.”
For more stories of COVID-19’s impact on our community, click here.
Brandon Bankston, Reporting