The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has radically changed how every institution in the U.S. operates. Medical care systems are no exception to this, and those that offer COVID testing to the public have had to drastically change their operations. Even small clinics have adjusted their layouts to keep potential COVID patients separated from others.
Specialized COVID testing sites, such as drive-through testing sites, also have unique operational needs. Although testing sites are often equipped with generators and other power sources to allow staff to work efficiently outdoors, battery-powered devices are still necessary to maintain mobility. Even once vaccines finish clinical trials, testing sites will likely remain operational until the population is vaccinated.
Medical carts with high-capacity batteries will make a massive difference for frontline workers and public health administrative staff alike as they deal with this unprecedented situation. By giving your team the most mobility possible, you’ll help them do their jobs to the best of their ability while allowing them to maintain social distancing.
COVID-19 Safety Considerations
In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, doctors shifted largely to telemedicine and digital health and wellness appointments. This was primarily due to uncertainties about the spread of COVID-19. Researchers were still trying to determine common transmission routes and how contagious an asymptomatic individual could actually be.
Now medical professionals know that COVID is mainly transmitted through the air and that mask-wearing can dramatically cut transmission. However, humans can still contract COVID through physical contact, especially if they touch a contaminated surface and immediately touch their eyes.
Hospitals, clinics, and testing sites must be more careful than ever as patients return for COVID testing and choose in-person general wellness visits over virtual care. Face shields and coveralls are a good starting point for staff working with confirmed or potential COVID patients, but other tools and resources play an essential role as well.
Social Distancing Considerations
Current best practices call for staff to maintain at least six feet from patients as much as possible. Traditional clinic and hospital layouts are designed to be space-efficient and minimize wasted space between equipment and patients, so maintaining this distance can be difficult. Outdoor testing sites usually have enough space to make social distancing possible, but maintaining it can still be challenging.
Medical computer carts with batteries make it much easier for staff to maintain a safe distance, whether they’re emergency room nurses or primary care doctors. Mobile carts that require a wall outlet limit the number of places a nurse or physician can work from and may force them to be too close to a patient, especially in smaller clinics.
Mobile workstations also make it easier for administrative staff to socially distance as necessary. Instead of moving a heavy desk and desktop computer around, staff can simply push their workstation a few feet. Outdoor testing areas also need battery-powered mobile carts so staff don’t have to huddle around a generator or power strip in order to use a computer.
General-purpose utility carts are not always designed to balance ergonomics and safety. They often have a large turning radius that makes it difficult to maneuver the cart through tight spaces.
At Scott-Clark Medical, we make sure our carts are well-balanced and easy to push safely. We install specialized casters that rotate smoothly and handles that are positioned for comfortable movement.
Having the right casters is especially important when using a parking lot or other area as a COVID testing site. Parking lot surfaces are rarely as smooth as regular hospital floors, and any type of wheel on your carts is likely to take a few more bumps than usual. Our casters are designed to roll over uneven surfaces as quickly as possible without sacrificing strength.
Battery Life Issues
Even if your medical center or other facility already has carts, you should examine whether their batteries are meeting your team’s needs. Many older carts use lead-acid batteries that only last for a few hours before requiring replacement or recharging.
Battery life problems can exacerbate existing workload and workflow issues, especially if COVID-19 patient numbers increase in your area. Having lithium-ion batteries for your point of care carts helps keep your team members working for a full shift, wherever they need to be. Lithium-ion batteries are lightweight and can run an onboard computer for several hours.
To further support your staff, consider a hot-swap battery system for your carts. A second battery slot on a cart means your staff can quickly insert a new battery without interrupting power to the electronics. This makes a huge difference when staff are working long hours and don’t have time to run and fetch a new battery.
All equipment at COVID testing sites, and hospitals in general, must be sanitized. Coronaviruses are vulnerable to standard disinfectants, but staff must be careful to thoroughly clean all surfaces, especially surfaces in areas for testing and treating COVID-19.
Try to avoid pushing your medical computer carts through narrow gaps and tight corners that are harder to sanitize thoroughly. Baskets and buckets that are attached to the side of the cart, as well as any internal storage like drawers or laptop trays should all be sanitized if they touch a wall.
Computer carts must also use as much metal as possible instead of plastic. Many plastics can chip or crack easily, creating difficult-to-clean spaces that can breed bacteria and allow viruses to escape disinfecting procedures. Scott-Clark Medical only uses plastics when necessary for weight and shaping considerations, and we make sure to use high-quality plastics that resist damage.
Medical Tablet and Laptop Needs
Medical carts need fast, reliable computers to allow medical professionals to access, read, and update patient information quickly. Fortunately, computers are smaller and lighter than ever, so they don’t add nearly as much weight to carts as in decades past.
Mobile medication workstations can be configured to use a small desktop computer, a laptop, or a tablet. They can even hold label or document printers, a scanner, or drawers for additional small electronics.
Although medical tablets are convenient to hold, some staff find it much easier to type on an external keyboard or simply use a traditional laptop. Surveying your staff for their preferences and comfort level with various technologies should help you decide which cart and computer options are right for you.
Ergonomics are also a chief concern, especially for administrative staff or specialists who must spend extensive time using computers. Scott-Clark Medical’s computer carts are height-adjustable for greater staff comfort. They also can include adjustable single or dual monitor mounts so each staff member can create a working environment that minimizes strain on their neck and back.
Getting the Right Equipment Fast
At times, COVID-19 has threatened to overwhelm local emergency departments and primary care health systems. Maintaining social distancing between patients and staff has been difficult, especially when a patient enters the building with COVID-19 symptoms and requires testing.
Sourcing the best equipment for your COVID-19 test site doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. You merely need to get in touch with a company that specializes in medical carts and understands the complex mobility and safety needs of your facility.
Scott-Clark Medical can build customized and highly durable mobile computing carts for any medical setting, including specialized COVID-19 testing areas. Our team will work with you to design the exact combination of equipment and electronics you need to keep your staff working safely and efficiently. Call us today at (512) 756-7300.