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In March 2020, New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States. Because healthcare facilities were overwhelmed with patients, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was transformed into the nation’s largest alternate care site: Javits New York Medical Station (hereafter termed Javits). Protecting healthcare workers (HCWs) during a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in a nontraditional healthcare setting posed unique challenges. We describe components of the HCW safety program implemented at Javits.
Javits, a large convention center transformed into a field hospital, with clinical staff from the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the US Department of Defense.
Key strategies to ensure HCW safety included ensuring 1-way flow of traffic on and off the patient floor, developing a matrix detailing PPE required for each work activity and location, PPE extended use and reuse protocols, personnel training, and monitoring adherence to PPE donning/doffing protocols when entering or exiting the patient floor. Javits staff who reported COVID-19 symptoms were immediately isolated, monitored, and offered a severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
A well-designed and implemented HCW safety plan can minimize the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for HCWs. The lessons learned from operating the nation’s largest COVID-19 alternate care site can be adapted to other environments during public health emergencies.
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