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Containing COVID-19: Lessons on living with the virus from inside a SWFL hospital

NCH Healthcare System boasts a nearly perfect track record when it comes to containing the spread of COVID-19 within its walls.

The hospital system claims that it’s had no patient-to-patient transmission, and only one employee has contracted the virus while at work.

“That means we can live with COVID, and by the way news flash, is we are going to live with COVID,” said Dr. David Lindner, the medical director for COVID-19 at NCH.

Lindner said NCH makes everyone at is facilities, from medical professionals to food service and security, wear a mask.

Patients isolated in the critical care unit of the hospital are in negative pressure rooms, which circulates the air away from the entry to the room.

This allows doctors and nurses in the ICU to stay comfortable and only need to put on extra protective equipment when entering patient rooms.

Those layers of PPE include an N95 mask, a gown, a visor and two sets of gloves. Gowns and gloves are disposed of as soon as staff exits a patient room. Masks are sanitized using an ultraviolet cleaning system and reused.

Outside the ICU, it works the same way, even though the majority of rooms are not set up with negative pressure ventilation.

Doors must remain closed at all times, and staff have to be decked out in protective equipment before entering.

The extra PPE is only required in COVID-19-positive, patient rooms. For the rest of the hospital, a face covering is required at all times.

Lindner said the hospital’s success at containing the virus shows that it can be contained inside any enclosed space, whether that be an office or a school.

“We know for a fact that if you have a mask and I have a mask and obviously adding eyewear and social distancing and hand washing makes, the likelihood of transmission is extraordinarily low,” Lindner said.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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