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1ST RESPONDERS — Golden Triangle Emergency takes COVID-19 challenge head-on

Golden Triangle Emergency Center professionals have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic through meticulous protocol while maintaining connections with individual patients.

Those with COVID-19 or concerned about coronavirus are separated from the general patient population and treated in specific rooms for the safety of all.

Known for quality care and an immaculate environment, the 10,000 square feet facility at 8035 Memorial Blvd. in Port Arthur is providing 100 percent of the services offered pre-coronavirus while taking care of many COVID-19 concerns.

When Jefferson County and Texas instituted closures during the spring and opened things back up in phases, medical facilities had to adapt to serve their patients and ensure the safety of staff members.

Director of Nursing Stephanie Massey said the biggest initial challenge was the availability of testing and keeping up with the volume of testing, then safety protocols were put in place for the community and staff.

The availability of PPE (personal protective equipment) became the next challenge faced and overcome.

Demonstration and video training became the norm, along with constant review of CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) protocols.

“We keep up with the protocols we learn,” Massey said. “We have phone calls with the state weekly. We keep up with the ever-changing protocols with the CDC, then keep our staff up to date. It is really a team approach.”

Dr. Tom Konjoyan, medical director at Golden Triangle, said patients screening for COVID-19 are separated into specific rooms that include negative air pressure monitors with complete air recirculation.

Director of Nursing Stephanie Massey, left in full personal protective equipment gear, demonstrates the precautions used when dealing with COVID-19.

Patients are isolated as much as possible from the time they arrive at the facility to the time they go while being restricted to certain rooms and isolated from other patients.

“Basically, every step from the time they approach the facility to the time they are discharged, there is strict attention to infection protocols to avoid any exposure to the staff or patient,” Konjoyan said.

“We keep track of those CDC requirements on a daily and weekly basis. We pay meticulous attention to PPE, talk to the patients and maintain patient flow with strict attention to infection control. It’s an all-encompassing approach in addition to treating the patients.”

Konjoyan gives a ton of credit to Massey and the Golden Triangle Emergency staff, saying they responded as well as could be possible.

“We’ve just got a really good staff here,” he said. “Stephanie (Massey) is an outstanding director. The training is outstanding. It’s a daily process of meticulous observing and correcting. A lot of it is basically talking to the patients. That’s the biggest part of it.”

It has become a team approach for the emergency facility. While maintaining advanced imaging and diagnostic equipment and a full clinical laboratory to produce results faster and more efficiently, team members have adopted a buddy system, watching out for what each person does to protect everyone.

“Everybody is training, practicing, constantly correcting and helping their buddy maintain very strict infection protocols,” Konjoyan said. “(Facing COVID) was not something you were doing every day, then you had to learn very quickly. I think all of us learned and adapted very quickly. You never know what is walking in the door here. In this case COVID was added to the mix and everyone just responded. I like our system. I think it is safe and works.

Massey said she has been in emergency medicine for a long time and is taking on the challenge of coronavirus like everything else.

“We are used to facing change and used to facing challenges,” she said. “I looked at it as anything else that would walk in the door, like any other challenge. You just face it head-on.”

A negative air pressure machine helping recirculate clean air throughout the day and reduce the spread of coronavirus is pictured in a room set aside for COVID-19 patients at Golden Triangle Emergency Center. (Stephen Hemelt/The News)