Is it safe to return to my doctor? How about our local hospitals? The answer is a resounding yes. In the face of unnerving news surrounding the spread of SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, it's no wonder these questions are top of mind for many. However, as chief medical officer of your community hospital, I say with confidence ignoring your health needs is never a good idea. And rest assured at Longmont United Hospital, and all our Centura Health clinics, we have expended every effort to ensure our environments are safe places for you to receive care. I would like to use our weekly column to talk about some of the ways Centura Health – Longmont United Hospital is ensuring everyone stays safe.
Professional cleaning within health care has always involved a rigorous process with hospital-grade disinfectants, but Centura environmental services, or EVS, teams are working even harder with coronavirus in mind. EVS personnel wear full protective gear, including N95 masks, face shields, gowns, two layers of gloves, shoe coverings, and other equipment to eliminate viruses and germs to protect caregivers, patients and all who enter. While standard cleaning in common areas occurs daily, EVS teams are now conducting this same thorough cleaning four times a day. Crews focus on high-touch points determined by the Centers for Disease Control, such as elevator buttons, waiting room chairs, remote controls, door handles, and other frequently touched surfaces. We also recently acquired a unique cleaning robot that uses UV light to sanitize spaces even further and an AeroClave room decontamination system to help disinfect our emergency waiting room and triage area. The AeroClave also will be used by our emergency medical service partners to clean ambulances.
In addition to cleaning, another control measure we are using is to screen all visitors and associates for COVID-19 before they come into the hospital and all patients who are having elective procedures are tested prior to surgery. We ask any patient who may be surprised with a positive test to hold off on surgery until they've recovered from the virus. For those who are unable to postpone procedures, we take necessary precautions to operate safely. To help with screening measures, the hospital has thermal scanners to monitor for anyone with a high fever, and all visitors and staff are required to wear a mask.
The team at Longmont United Hospital appreciates that fears around contracting COVID-19 are real for many. Still, my colleagues and I are equally fearful of the risks associated with ignoring other medical complaints. Talking to your doctor about your fears can help you overcome them. We want our patients to know that the likelihood of a more permanent negative outcome increases when they delay care. The bottom line is we are here for you and have processes in place to ensure our facilities are ready and able to treat the Longmont community safely and effectively.
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