It’s not just bars, restaurants and subway cars: Hospitals are also in line for a social-distancing makeover.
With the worst of the crisis seemingly behind them, hospital officials are now considering how to remodel in a way that limits person-to-person contact, protecting both patients and healthcare workers.
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Wei says top hospital officials have already begun walkthroughs of emergency departments to begin mapping out changes.
“Everything is on the table right now,” said Dr. Eric Wei, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of New York City Health + Hospitals, which runs the city’s 11 public hospitals. He says the hospital of the near future will feature “a lot more social distancing, a lot more physical barriers. If you can’t be six feet apart, plexiglass is probably going to play a much bigger role in the post-COVID world.”
Wei says he expects telemedicine will also play a new role – not for patients at home, but in the hospital itself. Patients could be screened via video upon arrival, to determine who poses a greater risk.
“If we suspect COVID symptoms, you go through Door A to a certain area. And if we don’t suspect COVID-19 symptoms, you go through Door B,” he said.
Other changes may be less visible to patients. New rooms could be constructed for staff to change into and out of personal protective equipment, or PPE. More space will be needed to store PPE. And hospitals may need to find more efficient ways to pipe oxygen to patients.
Limiting contact between patients and health care workers will not only protect against transmission -- it will conserve PPE, Wei said, and relieve staff of “needing to don and doff PPE every time we need to ask one question like, ‘What’s the best phone number to reach you at?’ Or ‘Which pharmacy do you want me to send your prescription to?’”