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One Community Health Opens New Clinic with Technology Designed to Limit Spread of COVID-19

Monday, September 14, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Written by: Michele Shrum-Guerrero, RD, Business Analyst & Communications Manager, One Community Health

 

One Community Health’s (OCH) new health clinic in Hood River, Oregon came at an interesting time. Several years in the making, no one could have foreseen that opening the new clinic would happen during a historic pandemic.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, OCH’s Chief Executive Officer Max Janasik quickly recognized the need to reexamine air cleaning plans for the new building. “We contracted infectious disease specialist Gail Bacon, RN, BSN, CGRN. She helped us understand how to revise our still-flexible heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) plans to make the building ready for COVID-19.” The building changes required an effective partnership between OCH, Scott Edwards Architecture LLP, and the general contractor, Bremik Construction Inc., who were able to accommodate adjustments throughout construction to incorporate cutting-edge safety technologies.

 


“In addition to maximizing air changes (i.e. how often a room’s air is refreshed) we focused on three main aspects of managing air quality: MERV-15 filtration, Photohydroionization (PHI), and airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR),” says Bacon, now Director of Operations at OCH. “First, MERV-15 filtration in the HVAC system captures most harmful particles (e.g., bacteria, viruses) down to the 0.3 micron level. PHI minimizes and neutralizes indoor air pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, mold, gases (VOCs) and odors. The building already had two AIIR (i.e., negative pressure) rooms planned, but two additional rooms were added. The AIIRs exhaust air outside instead of recirculating, which is particularly important if we’re seeing a COVID-19 positive patient or, for instance, when our dental staff are performing aerosol-generating procedures and we want to ensure any potential virus is not spread in the clinic,” says Bacon.

 


OCH has taken several other steps to deliver a safe space for staff and patients. Individual Germ Guardian HEPA/ UV air purifiers are placed in rooms to further clean air in high turnover patient areas (e.g., dental operatories). Doors into the health center have check-in stations for temperature taking, masks, hand sanitizer, and screening questions. Staff are required to wear personal protective equipment and comply with new policies around travel and exposure. With these new systems, rapid COVID-19 antigen testing, and enhanced safety training and procedures, OCH is providing patients with one of the safest environments to receive care, including oral health. With the recent deluge of wildfire smoke and hazardous air quality, these measures have also kept air quality in the clinic safe and clean. In addition to multiple layers of COVID-19 defense incorporated into the building, the added size (almost 3 times larger than the previous clinic) offers patients and staff more room to comfortably maintain social distance.

 


“For over 34 years One Community Health has served residents of the Columbia River Gorge with a special focus on vulnerable and underserved communities. For example, we know from our own data (over 4,600 tests) that those who identify as Hispanic are over four times more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Now more than ever our patients deserve this safe, cutting edge, and beautiful space,” stated Janasik. While the 36,500 square foot building provides immediate benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the larger facility also increases the number of patients OCH can see and the services it can offer to the community in the future.

About One Community Health

One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, Federally Qualified Health Center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River, Ore. Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and today has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home recognized as the Best Primary Care Clinic of 2019 by the Central Oregon Independent Practice Association (COIPA).

OCH currently provides medical, dental, and behavioral health services to more than 16,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing educational programs and support that reflect its integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania Counties.

 

 

 

 

 

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