HealthONE makes changes to protect patients, staff from coronavirus


Large red EMERGENCY sign on hospital entrance. Raw original.

Data pix.

DENVER (KDVR) – HealthONE is making changes to ensure patients and staff are protected from the new coronavirus.

Starting Tuesday, HealthONE hospitals are starting new visitor restrictions. Only two visitors per patient will be allowed. No visitors will be allowed for high-risk patients.

The number of entrances to each hospital is being limited and there will be a new screening process at each entrance.

Staff wearing masks will ask every person who comes into the hospital without a badge a series of questions to determine if they have respiratory symptoms, have traveled outside the country or have been exposed to a known coronavirus patient. If they answer "yes" to any of those questions, they are given a mask.

“We're using the CDC screening questions,” said Erica Rossitto, the chief nursing executive at HealthONE. The goal is to protect patients and staff, and there are guidelines in place.

Rossitto says if you are concerned that you have coronavirus, it is important to call ahead, so you can be sent to the appropriate place and staff will be prepared.

If a patient is suspected of having the virus, then staff will wear personal protective equipment including gowns, masks and gloves. The patient will be placed into a negative pressure room.  Tests results with the state take about 24 hours to complete.

“When we have a positive result, we literally work with the health department and you trace the steps backwards of everyone that interacted with that patient,” Rossitto said.

Then there is a risk assessment.

“That looks at things such as how long were they exposed, what were they doing when they were in the room with the patient, what kind of protective equipment were they wearing? Then based on that risk stratification, you can determine if someone needs to be sent home and self-quarantined or whether it is safe for them to work,” she said.

HealthONE has treated at least one patient who later tested positive for COVID-19, but so far no staff have needed to self-quarantine.

If staff do need to quarantine, they will be paid for their time, and no paid time off will be used. 

If it gets to the point that large numbers of employees need to do that, there are float pools of employees that the hospitals can bring in from other areas.

If you have questions, call the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's coronavirus hotline at: 303-389-1687.

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