By Jeff Todd

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The emergency room at Swedish Medical Center slightly adjusted how patients are admitted following the recent spike in coronavirus cases. The triage nurse who takes your initial vital signs now has a companion, an iPad.

(credit: CBS)

“We were trying to figure out how to best utilize the space in the emergency department, how to change patient flow to protect patients, protect staff, minimize exposure and risk,” said Dr. Nick Tsipis the Associate Medical Director at the Swedish Medical Center emergency room.

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In the spring, when COVID-19 cases were peaking for a first time, emergency rooms across the state saw a drop in other patients like people with strokes or heart attacks or broken bones. Right now, there’s no slowdown in patients seeking emergency care.

(credit: CBS)

Swedish has put an iPad at the front end of the process of checking a patient in during the times when it sees the most patients, from noon to 9 p.m. An extra provider can get a patient routed to the proper care quicker.

“We’re ordering lab tests. We’re ordering x-rays. We’re ordering different tests to get your care started so that way, even while you’re waiting in the waiting room, we’re expediting your care,” Tsipis said.

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The new protocol can protect doctors and nurses when a COVID-19 patient does arrive at the ER, and other patients can be protected as well because the streamlined process doesn’t allow the virus to linger. Another set of iPads are on wheels and can be taken into rooms for safe distancing.

“We wheel these around the department, and we conduct conversations through them we can talk about treatment and plans in a way that doesn’t force the patient or the provider to come within six feet of each other and keeps them more safe,” Tsipis said.

(credit: CBS)

It’s likely the new procedure will find its way to other hospitals in the HealthONE system. Tsipis says as COVID-19 cases continue to grow this allows the hospitals to accept innovate new forms of treatment to improve efficiency.

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“It’s important to us to use every tool that we possibly have to keep our patients safe,” he said.

Jeff Todd