Keeping transport, environmental services staff safe: 14 COVID-19 strategies from Northwell Health

The safety of workers has been a high priority for hospitals and health systems across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, and New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health is no exception. 

New York's largest healthcare provider, for example, implemented several strategies specifically targeting the safety of patient transport staff and environmental services workers, whose duties include cleaning patient rooms and changing bed linens.

Here are Northwell Health's strategies for minimizing exposure to patient transport staff, provided to Becker's by Jennifer Marchese, associate director of patient logistics at the health system's Staten Island (N.Y.) University Hospital.

  • Centralize the transport department
  • Train patient transporters to work in teams of two 
  • Assign three patient transporters to manage the movement of dead COVID-19 patients to the morgue 
  • Huddle at the beginning of shifts 
  • Train patient transport staff to ensure they were well practiced in the proper procedures for donning and docking personal protective equipment
  • Tap patient transporters who were the first to work on the COVID-19 floors to train colleagues
  • Monitor transport trips via the hospital's technology platform 
  • Establish a distinct, one-way discharge process for COVID-19 patients with two transporters  — one to help the patient and handle the wheelchair and another to touch doors and elevators

Here are Northwell Health's strategies for protecting environmental services staff, provided to Becker's by Oliver Perez, director of support services at the health system's North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

  • Train staff stationed in COVID-19 units on new cleaning and sanitization processes and involve managers
  • Designate elevators for patients with and without COVID-19, disinfecting them after each use 
  • Continuously disinfect doors, railings and staircases 
  • Expand environmental services team as the pandemic warrants 
  • Work nursing educators to train environmental services staff on how to wear and take off PPE 
  • Provided in-service training on N95 mask use


More articles on workforce:
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Health systems eye staggered schedule and end-of-week COVID-19 shots to mitigate workforce shortages
576 Henry Ford Health System workers sidelined due to COVID-19

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