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‘We have to do it’: Hospitals remind people to be patient during screening process to enter buildings

 A group of people screen visitors and patients before entering Penrose Hospital on Monday, June 22, 2020.
A group of people screen visitors and patients before entering Penrose Hospital on Monday, June 22, 2020. (KKTV)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 1:07 PM MDT
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Even though more businesses are starting to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals still have strict visitor policies in place.

At Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, a group of people screen every person who comes in for an appointment or to visit someone in the hospital.

“At the screening stations, we’ll be sure that you have a mask so that you can have your mask on at all times while you’re in the facility. We’ll make sure that your temperature is under 101, that you don’t have any signs and symptoms related to COVID. If you do, then, of course, we will ask you to turn around and leave. If you don’t, then, of course, we give you a visitor sticker and you come on in for your business of the day,” said Roni Ferrenberg, the director of clinical resource services for nursing at Penrose-St. Francis.

People stand in front of a thermal camera and answer a few questions before getting the all-clear. It’s a pretty quick process, but sometimes, there’s a surge of people.

“There are times, unfortunately, with the influx of people that come at times, we have a line out the door and around the sidewalk,” Ferrenberg said. “It is a fast process, just keep that in mind, but it is a necessary process.”

On average, Ferrenberg said about 2,500 people go through the screening process at Penrose Hospital each day. There are just under 1,000 people who are screened at St. Francis Medical Center daily. Sometimes during those surges, Ferrenberg said people can be rude to the screeners.

“There are some that can seem to be getting a little aggravated with all of the waiting and having to wear a mask all the time, and so sometimes they aren’t probably as polite or as kind as they should be to our screeners,” she said. “We have to do it. We want to keep everybody safe.”

Ferrenberg said security has had to be called a handful of times, but the majority of people are polite to the screeners.

The hospital system’s chief medical officer said so far, the screening process has helped keep coronavirus from infecting people visiting and working at Penrose Hospital.

“Today, we have not had a single instance of a transmission within the hospital, and we want to keep it that way because that keeps our patients safe as well as those who are visiting,” Dr. Bill Plauth said.

The hospital system also has a strict

in place. Only one visitor is allowed per patient per day. Visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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