The goal is to keep everyone safe from infection. So, before Novant Health patients or team members enters any facility, they are screened for COVID-19.
Then, they’re often screened again, just to be certain.
The additional safety measures should ease concerns for patients who are considering non-emergency surgeries, visiting their provider’s clinic or entering any emergency room. And remember, delaying or avoiding medical treatment can lead to long-term, serious health issues.
Novant Health doesn't administer COVID-19 tests to patients arriving for a non-surigcal medical appointment.
Team members are screened
Every Novant Health team member goes through a series of screening questions before entering a clinic or hospital. Are you feeling sick? If so, what are your symptoms? Cough? Shortness of breath? Temperature?
Most team members use a “pre-shift screening” app on their mobile devices to determine their status in order to qualify entering the building safely. If they receive a green check mark on their phone app, it indicates that they’re OK to enter and begin work. The pre-shift screening includes taking and reporting their temperature.
Team leaders make random audits throughout a work shift, asking team members to display the green check mark that allowed them inside. That accounting is an additional safety measure that team members don’t mind being held to.
“We’re taking care of patients. We’re taking care of each other,” said Leslie Barrett, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem. “We all have to be very accountable. Team members feel strongly about that.”
At Novant Health Medical Park Hospital and Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital, there is a thermal-imaging camera at the entrance that scans a width of 10 to 15 feet. The image of anyone entering the front door registers on the screen, either with a green display (their temperature is OK), yellow (borderline) or red (high temperature).
A screener monitors everyone who passes by, and sometimes additional forehead temperature checks are needed.
“This is another safety layer, and gives us one more cross check, one more way to validate,” Barrett said.
Patients and visitors are screened
All patients and visitors accompanying them are screened prior to or upon entering a Novant Health clinic. The clinic attempts to telephone patients before appointments to ask screening questions. On the day of the appointment those screening questions are asked again and an actual temperature is taken by a clinic team member. Any accompanying visitor goes through the same screening procedure.
“We have several safety nets in place to ensure we know a patient’s status and then can proceed accordingly,” Barrett said. “It alleviates a lot of the unknown. Most patients are very willing to follow the instructions and are appreciative of the thoroughness.”
In clinics, one visitor is allowed to accompany patients if the patient is age 65 or over or is the parent or guardian for patients under 18. Patients are encouraged to contact their clinic provider for specific guidance on visitors if they are between the ages of 18 and 64. Exceptions may be granted for patients who require special assistance to access care.
In acute care facilities, patients who are not COVID-19 positive can have one visitor accompany them. For those allowed to have visitors, visiting hours end at 7 p.m., except for patients in critical care, obstetrics and inpatient surgery. Emergency department and same-day surgery visitors are encouraged to stay in their vehicle unless needed by the patient or until the patient is in an assigned room. Exceptions that would allow COVID-19 positive patients to have visitors or allow other patients to have more than one visitor may be granted in special circumstances, such as end-of-life care.
Most patients having a non-emergency surgery are screened for COVID-19 and tested 72 hours before their arrival for surgery. Patients are instructed on limiting social interactions, social distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask prior to their surgery. If results are positive, surgery may be delayed or canceled.
Patients are telephoned the night before surgery for another series of screening questions. When patients arrive for surgery, they’re screened again and their temperature is taken before entering the hospital.