By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – While the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients remains low, a team of infectious disease experts at Rose Medical Center found their phones continued to ring.

“We had friends and business owners and friends of friends calling and saying, ‘How do we do this — can you help us?’ So we realized there was a need outside of the hospital,” said Dr. Dana Lerman, an Infectious Disease Consultant for Rose.

Lerman, with the help of Dr. John Hammer, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Rose and Dr. Erin Jenkins, Manager of Infection Prevention, started a consulting business called The COVID Consultants.

(credit: CBS)

“It really is difficult for businesses to open. If you go to a CDC website you get link after link after link and it can be very confusing and tiring for someone that doesn’t do this on a regular basis to actually filter out what makes a difference for them and their business,” said Hammer.

While the business has only been up and running for several weeks, the team has already helped businesses from restaurants to gyms.

(credit: CBS)

Lerman recommended chalkboard menus and doing away with permanent table condiments as another way to eliminate what she calls “touch points.”

“In terms of a restaurant, so we would go through a restaurant and a lot of restaurants want to hang on to their tangible menus,” Lerman continued, “but those are a huge touch point that we would like to see put away… for maybe ever.”

“It’s really a very specific thing for every single place that you go and for us it’s really about looking through our lease as physicians and infectious disease specialists and infection control prevention managers. It’s just a different way of looking at something,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

On Wednesday, Lerman and Hammer introduced CBS4 to another new client with a unique set of challenges — a brand new assisted living community, Modena in Cherry Creek, hopeful for an August opening.

“So what we’ve seen and what we’ve learned in the last — call it 75 days — is that this evolves very quickly.  It’s very tough to, honestly, stay on top of all the changes with regards to the CDC, the state guidelines, industry guidelines and to run our operation successfully,” said Adam Kaplan, CEO and Founder of Solera Senior Living.

Kaplan has been working in senior living for 16 years and this is new territory. After talking with health experts, he was pointed in the direction of the COVID Consultants.

“To me it’s important we have a third party that’s unbiased, that’s objective, that can honestly hold us accountable to make sure we’re doing everything possible to keep everybody safe during these times,” he said.

While keeping the most vulnerable safe is a lot pressure, the work the consultants do goes beyond typical hygiene and social distancing measures.

“We really do a top-to-bottom analysis of the entire facility where we talk about your ventilation system, make sure that’s updated. We look at your cleaning products and run them through an EPA certification website. We go room to room and talk about how we can minimize the touch points in each place,” said Lerman.

All recommendations are CDC-based and even go beyond a physical inspection.

“You really need to think about ways that they can not only engage with other people but really thrive and we’re looking at safe ways to do that,” Hammer continued, “but I think that we can look over time at different methodologies to help these people safely engage with not only their family members but other people in the facility.”

The COVID Consultants continue to take on new clients and also have free tips and guidance for businesses on their website. See one of their posters here.

Jamie Leary

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