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Pandemic Protection

Community helps Livingston HealthCare stay safe while fighting COVID-19
By 
Ryan Peerboom and Nate Howard — Enterprise Staff Writers
Friday, April 17, 2020
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Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

Whitney Harris, Livingston HealthCare’s marketing and communications manager, demonstrates the protective equipment worn by medical staff when caring for patients with COVID-19. 

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An intubation box, also referred to as an aerosol box, provides additional protection for medical staff caring for a COVID-19 patient.

Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

Health care facilities around the country have faced shortages of supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Livingston HealthCare has dealt with those same challenges in unique ways. But community members have offered to lend a helping hand and greatly increased LHC’s ability to safely treat COVID patients.

Sourcing PPE has proven to be difficult, according to Bill Bryce, the project and process improvement manager for LHC.

365体育网址“Every day it’s something new and something different that we have had trouble sourcing,” he said.

365体育网址Although LHC has treated and released a COVID patient, no hospital employees have tested positive for the virus.

Face masks have been in high demand since the beginning of the outbreak and have been tough to come by, as areas with a high volume of patients have been prioritized, Bryce said.

“There is a shortage of these (N95 grade) masks,” he said. “FEMA has been redirecting to areas of greater need.”

365体育网址Currently, nurses and doctors are reusing surgical masks until they are “visibly soiled” or break, said Jenn Schmid, the assistant director of nursing. Masks are worn for up to four hours during a shift then are placed in a paper bag to air dry until their next shift, Schmid said. 

Community members Ted and Georgann Watson have stepped in to help with the mask shortage. They recently donated 3,000 injection-molded masks to be used at multiple medical facilities. The masks can be reused with far less material than traditional surgical masks.

Local quilters, led by Jeanne DeHart, have also stepped in and helped make over 1,000 masks that can be reused, according to Ashley Ritenhour, the LHC employee who coordinated the mask-making effort.

365体育网址DeHart made kits for other community members who wanted to help in the process and met the 1,000-mask goal in less than three weeks.

LHC is also using reusable gowns that have been made by community members out of waterproof material, as well as gowns that have been made by Simms Fishing in Bozeman. Simms is a fishing gear manufacturer that redirected its efforts toward making PPE.

365体育网址LHC now uses intubation boxes. The boxes are made of transparent acrylic with circular holes cut out for a nurse or doctor to reach into while the box is placed over a patient’s head.

The boxes are used when a patient needs intubation, where a tube is placed down their throat in order to open up airways and connect patients to a ventilator. This procedure often induces coughing, which increases the possibility for the virus to spread. The box helps reduce the exposure.

Currently, LHC has the ability to care for five patients with mechanical ventilators and even more with other forms of ventilation. They have two more ventilators on order that have been diverted to New York to help with the high number of patients there, according to LHC Communications Director Whitney Harris.

The intubation boxes can also be used while nurses swab a patient’s throat through their nose to test for the virus.

365体育网址On Thursday, Harris modeled the equipment as Schmid and Bryce explained each piece of PPE that is used when working with a patient diagnosed with COVID-19. 

From head to toe, the nurse or doctor wears a hair bonnet, gloves, goggles, a mask, a face shield, an isolation gown and shoe covers.

Test results for the virus currently take 48 hours to be returned, which causes more PPE to be used for patients who may not have the virus. Faster results would limit the amount of PPE that is used on a daily basis.

Currently, Park County only has seven cases of the virus. The number of cases has not increased for over a week.

365体育网址“It’s a reflection of how well people in our community are following guidelines,” Schmid said.

The hospital is looking at different approaches and learning from an unprecedented pandemic.

“Health care is going to be a different entity when this is done,” Bryce said.

The help from the community is unprecedented, Bryce said.

He said LHC feels better prepared to safely treat the virus with the support from the community. Without that support, it would be a different story.

“We would be struggling in a very, very large way,” Bryce said.

Community members that have donated supplies include:

365体育网址• Sandi and Andy Marlowe – Spark Laser Creations: Intubation boxes

• LTS Architecture: 3D Printed Masks

• Cajune Boat Builders: 3D Printed Masks

• Simms gowns: Pat and Shelley Gilligan

• Reusable face shields: Brandi Nichols

LHC said they are thankful for all who have donated their time and resources toward helping fight the virus, but notes that there have been so many volunteers that they are unable to name them all.

 

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