“The staff, including the pilot, wears appropriate PPE for positive or suspected positive COVID patients. We have gowns, eyewear, things of that nature,” Ballmer said. “Sometimes our helmets have shields that come down, and a curtain separates the pilot from the patient.”
After each flight, a significant cleaning and decontamination process takes place.
“All the COVID-19 precautions we take inside the hospital, we utilize outside, too,” Ballmer said.
Some of the newer cleaning chemicals most effective for killing COVID-19 have a slightly longer drying time, so that adds a few minutes to the process, “but if we didn’t have a passion for it, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Strains on the system
Blum is concerned about the expected rise in cases and the hospitalizations in the next few weeks and its effects on hospitals and their staffs.
“Just being a special COVID transfer station means we’re not operating with business as usual. Our hospitals are strained. It’s taking longer to find placements for patients, and we’re not at the end of it yet. We’re trying to pull together to minimize the impact,” she said.
She said capacity at hospitals changes quite a bit during the course of the day, “and it can be difficult to find placement. The Transfer Center can assist hospitals in this to give them time to care for patients, while also balancing the load of transfers across multiple facilities to keep other hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” Blum said.