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How we are keeping our patients safe during the coronavirus pandemic

Find out about the many hygiene and safety measures we have adopted during the pandemic at SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital

The implementation of effective protective, hygiene and safety measures has been a priority for SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cornerstones of these measures are the screening of patients and staff, the testing and monitoring of possible positive cases and the application of safety measures in medical procedures and care. Safe spaces have also been created and the flow of visitors reduced and redistributed.  

As well as the general measures, changes have been established in many departments which involve continuous staff training and updating as well as 24/7 coordination of the teams Below, we list the elements which make our centre a safe hospital.

Telephone support at SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital.
An SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital nurse provides telephone follow-up for one of her patients.

Remote consultations

The objective is to provide face-to-face care only for those patients for whom this is essential. Online and telephone consultations have therefore been stepped up, while always ensuring the most suitable care in each case. This allows families to avoid travel when face-to-face care is not required, and also allows their care to be safer. In order to do this, improvements have been made to the Patient Portal, which saw a considerable increase in activity during the months of May and June and received more than 32,000 visits from families to carry out all kinds of consultations and administrative procedures.

Telephone support 

Remote care also serves to orientate families who are unsure of whether they should attend the Emergency Department. A medical and nursing team analyses the patient's situation and indicates whether the child can be attended to at home by their parents or carers, or if they should be seen urgently by a doctor. The percentages of face-to-face and telematic visits vary according to the needs of each case and the centre's safety requirements, with priority always being given to suitable care for the people who need it most.

Patient screening and safe areas

Do any tests need to be done before visiting the hospital?

The Hospital contacts the patients who need to come to the centre to find out their health status and whether they have been in contact with possible cases of COVID-19. If the child and their companion have to go to the Hospital for a consultation or a procedure, surgery or delivery, in the case of pregnant women, screening or another action is performed depending on the type of test, visit or stay to be carried out.

Why are tests carried out in some cases, but not in others?

The aim is to detect possible positive cases as early as possible, to avoid the need for them to come into the Hospital, and to provide care for them at home whenever possible, or, when the patient needs to be admitted, to accommodate them in safe, segregated areas for patients with coronavirus.

Are the Hospital staff also tested?

Yes. All Hospital staff are regularly screened, including the medical and nursing teams and the administrative, maintenance and voluntary staff. These tests are also different depending on whether the staff have more or less exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The teams who are on the front line are given PCR tests on a more regular basis. If any member of staff receives a positive result, they self-isolate at home and do not go back to work until they receive a negative result in all the tests.

In the event of an emergency or a spontaneous delivery, can I come to the Hospital without a prior test?

The screening of patients allows early detection and the creation of safe spaces. However, sometimes patients arrive without having had time for a test beforehand. This may be the case in an emergency which has to be attended to very quickly or a delivery which has started spontaneously. As a preventive measure, in these cases we proceed as if the patients had COVID-19, and they are attended to following the established protocols.

How does the Hospital proceed if there is a positive case of COVID-19?

When the screening detects a positive case, where possible the child and their companion are sent home, where they are advised to complete the isolation period and are given a telephone follow-up. In some cases, home hospitalisation is advisable; this is a practice which has become established during the pandemic.

The other option, if hospital treatment is required, is admission to one of the safe areas for coronavirus cases. In this case, the rooms are single-occupancy and all established safety measures are followed.

Why can each patient only be accompanied by one person?

During patients' stay in the Hospital, whether for a one-off consultation or a diagnostic test, a surgical intervention or an admission, they may only be accompanied by one person. This measure is essential to reduce the flow of people and to minimise the risks in the hospital environment. People accompanying a minor who has been admitted to the Hospital can consult with the teams attending to them about the options they have regarding companions in order to make the stay as comfortable as possible.

Are the Hospital spaces safe?

Our centre makes sure that the spaces are as safe as possible, something which has forced us to change the normal layout and to include or remove some elements. In the entrances, hand gel dispensers have been installed, partitions have been put up in the service windows and the spaces have been reorganised to ensure the safety distances are observed, with new signage and layout, for example in the outpatient areas and in the cafeteria which serves visitors. The change is visible in the waiting rooms, where chairs have been marked and games and other items to distract small children have been removed for safety reasons.

PPE, updated protocols and constant training

The availability of material is checked daily to ensure all the necessary tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) are on hand. In order to ensure these are used correctly, staff are provided with training and updated protocols . However, training is not only given to healthcare professionals: cleaning, maintenance and other staff have received instructions on how to keep the centre safe. More than 1,300 people have been shown how to correctly apply health and safety measures in their work areas.

Vaccination of hospital professionals

SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital has vaccinated practically all the Hospital's staff and collaborators against COVID-19, such as volunteers and students, with priority being given to the teams in the COVID units, consultations and circuits, emergency and urgent medical transportation professionals and staff in services and units that care for high-risk patients (oncology, haematology and critical patients, among others).

Cleaning, disinfection and ventilation

Hygiene in the spaces

Thorough cleaning is carried out on a frequent basis. In the rooms, booths or places where COVID-19 positive or suspected patients have been, a double horizontal, vertical and ceiling cleaning is carried out using bactericidal products.

It is not covered by public health

Endpoint disinfection

When required (according to the patient's situation, their viral load, etc.), an endpoint disinfection may be carried out using chemical product nebulisation, in this case hydrogen peroxide.

It is not covered by public health

Asepsis using ultraviolet light

SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital also has an ultraviolet light asepsis system which can be used prophylactically or preventively in high-risk areas. This system is used, for example, in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

It is not covered by public health

Installation of HEPA filters

In the COVID-19 areas, portable HEPA filters have been installed with 99% effectiveness, providing clean, safe air. The engineering and maintenance teams have adapted the Hospital's air conditioning and ventilation systems.

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Specific waste treatment

The suitable treatment of waste after attending to patients is important. The cleaning and maintenance teams work with approved biohazard bags and drums which are stored outside and disposed of in a controlled manner.

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Work safety

The Health and Safety Department works on the regular screening of staff, in order to offer personal protective equipment to all staff who require it and ensure the safety of workspaces.

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Information and research to fight the virus

SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital has strengthened its communication with patients and their families through digital tools, SMS, telephone calls and other means so that they have information before they arrive and they feel safe if they visit. Research is, currently, the main tool to fight the virus. To this end, the Kids Corona platform has been launched, the results of which are shared with the whole scientific community in order to advance the fight against coronavirus. The objective of the study is to obtain information about how the virus is transmitted in children, pregnant women and babies, how it manifests in our patients and how it behaves in different environments. 

Technology at the service of a safe hospital

SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital has launched several systems aimed at minimising the number of people present in closed spaces and achieving the highest possible punctuality and efficiency, . The most notable of these include a tool which uses data analysis to obtain information on outpatient consultations and forecast the number of patients who will attend them. The objective is to know before the patient arrives what the capacity of the waiting rooms is going to be, in order to plan ahead and avoid large numbers of people.

Because of where SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is situated, and in order to avoid arriving late, many families often arrive early for their appointments and spend the waiting time in the facilities. Punctuality is important for the proper running of the appointments, but at the present time we want to avoid large numbers of people waiting in the same space before their appointments. To this end, a notification system has been developed for the Hospital app so that families receive a notification on their phones to tell them when they should go to their appointment. The Hospital SJD app is available for iOS and Android.

We are still smiling behind the mask

As well as safety, our main objective is for SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital to keep providing warm clinical and human care for our patients and their families. With masks and social distancing it is not always easy, but we have held on to our essential values.
Esther Álvarez, Head of Admissions at SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital
Play activities, for example the hospital clowns and assisted therapy with dogs (now directed by the patient but without contact), have been adapted so that children continue to find a friendly and welcoming hospital. Safety is consistent with a good patient experience.
Esther Álvarez, Head of Admissions at SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital