Triple-screening for COVID-19 symptoms, less time spent in waiting areas, and consistent cleaning of imaging machines following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards - these are some of measures that the Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging at Yale New Haven Health (YNHH) is taking to create a safe environment for its patients and staff.
Radiology has continued to provide medically necessary imaging throughout the COVID-19 crisis, including ER, inpatient and medically necessary outpatient services. Now, plans to resume normal operations are being developed methodically and with care, said Cheryl Granucci, director of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging at YNHH.
“New schedules for our patients, including extended and weekend hours, will be offered in uncrowded waiting spaces,” Granucci said. “We are confident that we will be well-prepared to continue to offer safe, high-quality imaging such as X-ray, ultrasound, mammography, CT, MRI, PET, and other tests.”
The radiology department is working with Smilow Cancer Hospital and departments such as surgery, pediatrics, and orthopedics to assess the need for patient imaging. “We’re working toward offering more non-urgent and screening radiology appointments over the next few weeks,” Granucci said.
Most radiology sites across the health system have been open since May 20. The enhanced safety measures are being put in place as patients make appointments for the routine, non-urgent exams that they deferred because of COVID-19. Among these procedures is triple screening for COVID-19 symptoms with the first screening taking place when a patient makes an appointment, then 1-2 days before their imaging procedure, and again upon their arrival for the procedure, said Jay Pahade, MD, vice chair of quality and safety in the Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging at Yale School of Medicine.
Radiology also enlisted volunteers from the hospital staff to have screening mammograms in order to test new safety operations. “We’re also spacing out the chairs in our waiting room if a patient should have to use them. We’ve got new signage for our waiting rooms, floor markings, and plexiglass guards have been installed,” Granucci said.
Here is a list of the safety measures radiology is taking to protect its patients and staff:
· Triple COVID-19 symptom screening by phone before appointment and upon arrival with temperature checks.
· Time in waiting room minimized by advanced registration through MyChart, and completing pre-procedure screening forms by phone before arrival. Patients will be escorted directly to the exam room upon arrival.
· Enhanced and more frequent cleaning procedures with all rooms and surfaces cleaned and disinfected before and after each patient. Hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes will be available to all patients.
· All staff and patients will be wearing masks.
· New social distancing initiatives include more time scheduled for each appointment to prevent crowding. Visitors accompanying patients will be limited.
· Regular Covid-19 testing of all asymptomatic hospital employees.
· Use of appropriate and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) by all staff.
Patients with COVID-19 symptoms will need to reschedule appointments that are not medically urgent and time sensitive. Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are suspected of having it, can call the Radiology Hotline to schedule appointments at designated COVID-19 imaging sites on 475-246-9660. The hotline hours are 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday. The hotline is closed on Sunday.