Given the unprecedented daily havok the COVID-19 outbreak is creating across the country, I want to reassure you that Green Imaging is open and ready to make every possible effort to provide its patients safe, high-quality medical imaging when needed for the coming months.
As a doctor, it is important to me that I provide you with reliable information regarding COVID-19. The safety of our patients is our first priority, and at Green Imaging we are closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American College of Radiology (ACR) recommendations, as well as many local, regional, and state government orders to ensure that we provide safe essential diagnostic imaging services across the country as best we can.
Independent diagnostic imaging centers are serving a crucial, front-line role in protecting public health during this crisis. With hospitals quickly becoming inundated with COVID-19 patients, hospitals may not be the safest option for imaging for patients right now. Independent centers are making every effort to screen outpatients with any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19, screen staff for symptoms and exposure, and maintain the best possible infection control protocols.
COVID-19 is not like any infectious threat we’ve seen before. Unlike the seasonal flu and other common infectious diseases, COVID-19 is exceptionally adept at spreading from person to person. Preliminary studies indicate that COVID-19 has an average base reproduction rate of R3.28. This means the average infected individual will transmit the disease to another three individuals. For comparison, the seasonal flu has a base reproduction rate of around R1.5. Clearly, this novel coronavirus is highly infectious and diagnostic imaging facilities are taking the best possible precautions to protect patients and staff alike.
How Imaging Centers Are Helping Stop The Spread of Coronavirus
Imaging centers are helping to stop the spread of coronavirus in their facilities by:
Implementing infection control protocols.
The first step to fighting COVID-19 is an effective infection control plan. This includes rigorous sterilization procedures for surfaces, equipment, instruments, and patient touchpoints within the facility. While it is impossible to maintain perfect sterilization in this setting, regularly cleaning and disinfecting touchpoints can minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus. Facilities sanitize individual patient exam rooms, including all furniture, counters, drawers, seating, and equipment. Please refer to the CDC guide for best practices in environmental cleaning in healthcare facilities.
Providing protective equipment to staff and patients.
Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, it is recommended that facilities provide both staff and patients with the appropriate protective coverings and equipment as available. By minimizing person to person contact, protective gear can help slow the spread of germs, including viral particles. I have a resource for surgical masks, if you are in need, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enforcing stringent handwashing mandates.
Handwashing is proven to kill or eliminate COVID-19 virus particles and is key to stopping this pandemic. Imaging facilities mandate a strict handwashing policy for workers and staff. Even if gloves or other forms of protective covering are utilized, staff working with patients should wash their hands as often as reasonably possible.
Implementing social distancing protocols where possible.
Per governmental recommendation, social distancing should be practiced within facilities where possible. Currently, experts advise individuals to maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another. This can be difficult in indoor environments. However, centers are limiting the number of people in the waiting room and spacing appointments appropriately to reduce traffic in and out of the building. Reducing nonessential traffic in and out of the clinic can help stymie the spread of the pandemic.
Requesting sick or symptomatic patients to stay home or seek care at a hospital site.
Many hospitals and some imaging chains are dedicating scanners and x-ray machines to patients with COVID-19 symptoms. By directing symptomatic patients to those sites, independent centers maintain the lowest possible risk to their own patients receiving needed care during this crisis and protect the health of their own staff.
"We have a treasured employee whose husband is critically ill with presumed COVID-19. Our love and prayers continue to go out to that family and to all of our partners and patients impacted in so many ways by this pandemic."
--- DR. CRISTIN DICKERSON, MD
What Green Imaging Continues To Provide
Green Imaging continues to provide self-pay patients who need care during this crisis the safest and most affordable options for imaging we can find. We are also scheduling patients who feel their care is non-essential for exams in June so that there are no further delays in care once there is a rush for appointments when COVID-19 abates. A patient who delays a screening mammogram for several months and then experiences another delay over the summer in getting it scheduled due to the accumulated need for volume could have significant clinical consequences.
Green Imaging continues to provide care for our patients whose employer sponsors their imaging or directs them our way. Some centers are temporarily shuttering due to exposures or because they are associated with facilities treating symptomatic patients. Others are limiting days and hours of scanning and scheduling. We are rerouting and rescheduling patients as needed and making sure those with nonessential care are booked for June. We are additionally rerouting symptomatic patients to appropriate facilities. Most importantly, we are here as a resource for your employees.
Green Imaging continues to use all of its resources to provide its employer clients with empathetic care for their workforces, find affordable alternative imaging options for symptomatic patients where possible, and hold down costs for care during a crisis that will be very expensive for all health plans. We will also provide you with new tools to continue to educate your employees about the Green Imaging option. We can help you save up to 8% on your total health spend.
Green Imaging continues to support its partner imaging centers, getting them safe screened patient volume for essential care, providing them resources for obtaining supplies, and offering back up radiologist interpretations.
And finally, we have a treasured employee whose husband is critically ill with presumed COVID-19. Our love and prayers continue to go out to that family and to all of our partners and patients impacted in so many ways by this pandemic.
These are unprecedented times that require all of us to be vigilant, focused, and most of all safe.
DR. CRISTIN DICKERSON, MD