How hospitals in the region adjust their response to the pandemic

Preventing the spread of COVID-19, Wisconsin health experts said, comes from designing rooms with negative air pressure
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 2:25 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, WIS. (WIFR) - The COVID-19 comeback across the United States puts pressure on area hospitals to change the way they handle patient care.

As cases climb, UW Health in Madison takes action to change the rooms inside its hospitals to stop the spread of COVID-19. Health experts said their best luck comes from designing rooms with negative air pressure.

“We open up the window, run it through the HEPA, then it goes outside. Filters it. And it creates a negative pressure from the hallway, so it keeps the nurses and staff safe,” said UW Health sheet metal journeyman, Gary Mueller.

“So it’s essentially drawing the air into the room, and exhausting it up through the ceiling now to out of the building,” said UW Health design and construction director, Michael McKay.

McKay explained negative pressure rooms are “sealed” to prevent infected air from wafting out of a patient’s room into crowded hallways.

“Room by room, this keeps our staff much safer during their care delivery to their patients,” said McKay.

UW Health said it wants to reduce the number of times frontline workers go into a COVID-19 patients room. They’ve reworked the spaces, so patient vital signs can be watched from outside the room.

“Either through the window, doing that person to person, or with the addition of cameras,” McKay said.

Not only does this reduce how often staff is exposed to the virus, but McKay said it also saves personal protective equipment with the goal of keeping everyone safe.

“Our mission is to serve them, to keep them safe, while making that patient experience be the best it can be,” said McKay.

23 News followed up with Rockford area hospitals like Mercy Health and SwedishAmerican to see if they are doing something similar. At this time, they say they aren’t considering these changes and they continue to operate under CDC guidance.

Copyright 2021 WIFR. All rights reserved.