Hospital makes changes in patient access

by Nebraska Medicine | March 30, 2020

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Nebraska Medicine has announced the following changes at the Nebraska Medical Center:

Level five of University Tower ready for COVID-related patients

Level five of University Tower recently was vacated to allow facilities management and planning to turn the entire level to negative airflow. That work is now complete.

On Saturday, March 28, 5 West began accepting new COVID-related patient admissions. In addition, the patients currently on 6UNS (formerly known as 6NN, level six of University Tower), will be transferred to level five. 6UNS will close for the time being. 7UT remains open.

Now that level five is dedicated to COVID-related patients, all staff will be required to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE): face shield, procedure mask, gown and gloves.

Access to level five has changed.

  • The doors for 5 West to enter the Durham Outpatient Center will not be accessible during this time. They must remain closed to maintain negative air pressure.
  • The doors accessing the bridge to University Tower Unit 2 will be closed, but accessible. This is a stopping point where a procedural mask will need to be placed.
  • Signage will be placed in all "B" elevators and stairwells entering 5 West to alert staff a procedural mask is needed upon entering the space.
  • Staff must don a procedural mask as they exit the elevators onto the floor
  • Review this map of the Code Team Response access. Green is open; red is closed.

Changes in emergency department access, patient flow

The emergency department has created a "COVID-19 Hot Zone," which is being created to segregate patients who meet possible COVID-19 testing criteria. The department is limiting traffic flow in the hallways near this area in the event the patients may need to travel to x-ray or CT scans.

As part of this hot zone, two of the three entrances to the Emergency Department from inside the medical center are closed and will only be used as egress in the case of an emergency.

  • In the south hallway, staff are removing their personal protective equipment after caring for possible COVID-19 patients;
  • In the middle hallway, they are putting on masks and face shields before entering the hot zone. Staff also wear isolation gowns and gloves when caring for patients who are being evaluated for possible COVID-19; and
  • Colleagues who need to access the Emergency Department will only be allowed to enter using the north hallway that runs between The Company Store and the south entrance to the Clarkson Cafe.

"Creating a hot zone allows us to evaluate patients who may have COVID-19 while keeping our staff safe," said Suzanne Watson, emergency services nurse manager. "Our teams spend about six hours in the hot zone, where they must put on new isolation gowns and gloves before they enter each room and take them off before returning to the hallway. They wear N95 respirators and face shields the entire time they're in this area. In other areas of the ED, staff wear procedural masks and face shields to help preserve our mask supply."

Also, patients with mild upper respiratory symptoms who are classified as low risk are now being re-routed to the Clarkson Doctors Building South. A golf cart is available to take these patients to the overflow clinic, where they are seen by primary care providers. The hours of the clinic currently are 2 to 8 p.m. and will be adjusted as needed.