Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center prepares for COVID-19

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – To date, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has had zero COVID-19 positive patients, however, they’ve been gearing up for that day since February through simulations.

Clinical Nurses at the VA like Lisa Boye and Cheryl Karn have been running drills and scenarios since March 25th, anticipating their first coronavirus patient. Boye says their biggest concern with the virus, is safety for all. 

Preparing to keep them safe, and keep our staff safe as well. Which is the reason why we have been drilling constantly since early March. We don’t want anyone to get sick, we don’t want anyone to get this virus all, but we want to make sure that if they do come here, they’re getting the best care they can get. 

Lisa Boye, VA Clinical Nurse Expert  

Karn went on to note, that the simulation events were based on criteria from other facilities or just past events to try to just indicate some of the strengths or weaknesses in both their units and employees.

Part of those drills included how to correctly put on and remove potentially contaminated PPE.   

It’s extremely important to do this in the correct sequence, to don in the correct sequence, just for their safety, in addition to the patient’s safety. 

Lisa Boye, VA Clinical Nurse Expert  

Karn says that with the help of the VA’s engineering team—they were able to create CoZones, which can care for a total of 24 patients now—with a plan to expand.  Unlike other hospitals in the area, this allows zero recycling of the air through their HVAC system. 

They’re negative pressure for the entire unit. Which means that we can safely care for those patients that may potentially have COVID.  

Cheryl Karn, VA Clinical Nurse Leader  

The technology for the CoZone was aquired after the H1N1 outbreak by the VA—fearing another infectious virus could come later on. 

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