Yale New Haven Health officials said Friday they have several plans in place as the number of COVID-19 cases grows in Connecticut.
In New Haven, the hospital is designating the top three floors of the Smilow Cancer Hospital as the place for COVID-19 patients.
“This was an enormous undertaking, it went extremely smoothly,” said Dr. Tom Balcezak, Chief Clinical Officer for Yale New Haven Health.
It’s the first time they’re repurposing those top floors. The space was built with negative pressure, so the air – including inside patient rooms – is pushed outside the building through the exhaust system.
“It really creates a space that’s safe for the staff to be working in that area,” said Dr. Rick Martinello Medical Director of Infection Prevention.
There are 152 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the Yale New Haven Health system, and nearly 50 are in intensive care. And they have more plans ready for a sharp increase in those numbers.
As for the personal protective equipment (PPE), Yale staff are using some N95 masks more than once, but they say there’s enough -- for now.
“As this pandemic spreads, as we see more patients, we’ll probably be tested in the numbers of N95s we have,” said Dr. Balcezak.
So they’re testing a process for decontaminating them if they need to. After research and testing, they were able to get rid of viruses on contaminated masks, and other material as well.
“This process that we’re planning to use was able to also eradicate some very hearty bacteria from these respirators as well,” said Dr. Martinello.
Staff are not using the decontaminated masks yet, but it’s another part of their planning.
The one plan they keep pushing over and over is social distancing and hand washing.
“I’m concerned we’re just at the beginning of this outbreak in the state of Connecticut,” said Dr. Balcezak. “And if we don’t act fast to halt the spread, in the ways that we discussed earlier in the conference, that we would have a New York style set of difficulties here in our state.”