CHICAGO (CBS) — The pressure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic falls not just on hospital workers, but also on our first responders – and ensuring they are protected when answering the call.
Oak Park Fire Department Deputy Chief J.T. Terry showed CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli what it’s like to wear a surgical mask with an eye shield.
“The recommendations of the CDC and the IDPH says that we need to protect all our mucosal membranes – your mouth, your nose, your eyes – at all times,” Terry said.
Terry said every one of his department’s rigs is carrying personal protective equipment kits that firefighters use to protect themselves from the pandemic.
They come with gloves, wipes, two different types of masks, and disposable gowns which will be put on anytime any of the 63 members of the fire department attempt to help a potential COVID-19 patient.
And they’ve been practicing suiting up.
“A trained professional can get in and out of this in less than a minute,” Terry said.
Terry is the department’s infectious disease specialist. So he oversees the top to bottom cleaning of the trucks, ambulances, and firehouses.
“A have implemented a policy of wiping down the firehouse three times now, instead of the normal one,” he said.
It’s the new way of doing business in fire houses across the region.
And tents May soon represent the new normal outside emergency rooms – from Loyola University Medical Center to West Suburban Hospital Medical Center.
Matthew Primack is the president of Advocate Condell Medical Center.
“Advocate Aurora Health is committed to setting up these mobile tents. All 27 of our hospitals are now creating action plans to launch these,” Primack said. “We launched our first one at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge with tremendous success.”
Tents minimize risk by keeping some suspected COVID-19 patients outside of the hospital that protects patients and hospital staffers. And because the virus usually doesn’t cause symptoms for at least five days, Advocate Condell officials are practicing visitation vigilance.
“We’re screening the people that are allowed to visit to make sure that we ask them specific questions and take their temperature,” said Karen Hanson, Advocate Condell Chief Nursing Officer.
Meanwhile at Loretto Hospital, all visitation is suspended except for one parent or guardian of a child. They are only allowed in only after passing the screening process.