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SMC upgrades mean safer conditions at facilities

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | October 12, 2021 7:00 AM

KELLOGG — Anyone who has visited Shoshone Medical Center or SMC Family Medicine over the past few weeks may have noticed a few changes to the waiting areas.

Both facilities have installed negative pressure rooms which help stop the airborne spread of potentially infectious diseases.

SMC also added a few upgrades to its Emergency Department entrance, as well as a new drive-through for special testing and a covered area for hospital staff to work in when working in the drive-through area.

The $350,000 remodel was paid for using provider-relief monies that have been distributed through the pandemic.

SMC Chief Executive Officer Paul Lewis discussed how construction projects like these require a lot of planning in order for them to be done safely and properly – but due to the pandemic several of the necessary steps were already in place.

“Hospital construction in general has a great deal of infection control and safety and other requirements that we have to follow,” Lewis said. “A lot of safety things that needed to be in place already were. I think that the timing of it was somewhat fortunate because we were able to do it during a decrease in COVID prevalence and then shortly after completion is when we saw the surge that we’re experiencing now.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep through the country, hospital waiting rooms have become a rather foreboding place where no one wants to catch anything from their neighbors who may be sitting across the room from them.

That’s where the newly remodeled waiting rooms come into play.

The air pressure is lower inside the negative pressure room than it is outside it, hence the name.

This allows the door to be opened without the risk of potentially contaminated air or other dangerous particles being released from the room to the outside, non-contaminated areas.

Instead, non-contaminated filtered air will flow into the negative pressure room and any contaminated air is then sucked out from the room through an exhaust system, and then pushed through a filtration system before being pumped outside the facility.

Over the years, health care facilities across the world have used these rooms for diseases such as measles, tuberculosis, SARS and now COVID-19.