Since the ‘start’ of the coronavirus pandemic in March, more than 81 million individuals have gotten infected, with over 1.7 million deaths globally. Because of the ever-increasing cases, governments worldwide decided to divide all districts across their respective nations into hotspots, non-hotspots, and green zones to manage the pandemic while partially opening up economic activities during lockdowns.
Governments did this by providing color-coded zones, helping hospitals and medical professionals manage hotspots, and preventing the virus’s spread. Here are different color-coded zones, their meaning, and how they help hospitals cope with the crisis.
The green zone pertains to ‘clean’ areas or those spots that don’t require immediate medical attention. These are places in the hospital dedicated to patients who have been tested and confirmed negative for coronavirus.
These areas need to observe routine cleanliness levels, which hospitals achieve through traditional decontamination procedures and using online shadow boards, helping staff see what’s missing and avoid cross-contamination among equipment. Additionally, people from the red zone are prohibited from going into the green zone.
Yellow zones pertain to ‘possible contaminated areas.’ These often get divided into two categories, ‘fever clinic,’ and emergency room. For fever clinics, medical facilities need to set up independent ‘fever clinics’ with a one-way passage to the hospital entrance. Everyone, ranging from patients to hospital staff, needs to wear masks and wash their hands before going to the premises. It’s best to set up independent examination rooms, laboratories, resuscitation rooms, and observation rooms in a fever clinic in the yellow zone.
Meanwhile, medical professionals need an isolated acute care emergency room (ER) dedicated to segregating patients with an epidemiological history or experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms that require hospitalization immediately from non-COVID patients. Yellow zone ERs need to have one or more beds with fully-equipped ICU facilities.
The red zone indicates ‘contaminated areas,’ usually referring to isolation wards or intensive care units (ICUs) and operating room suites. It also pertains to patients who’re the highest priority. The structural layout and workflow of red zones need to meet hospital isolation technical regulations’ relevant requirements, limit access, and use negatively pressurized rooms.
Positive confirmed cases of COVID could be arranged in the same room with the beds at least 1.2 meters or 4 feet apart. Rooms should have the necessary facilities that patients require daily, like a bathroom or dining area to restrict their movements in the isolation ward. All surgical procedures designated in the red zone need to be conducted in negative pressure operating rooms.
Finally, for staff management in the high-risk red zones, medical facilities need to divide staff into teams, including healthcare personnel, paramedics, support, and management, following a rotational schedule of 2 to 4 weeks with each shift lasting 6 to 8 hours. Additionally, all staff needs to regularly check and monitor their health status, including monitoring body temperature and respiratory symptoms. If healthcare professionals become sick, they’re often confined in the red zone until they recover fully.
Different states may follow different color codes than others. For instance, aside from the standard yellow, green, and red zones, New York uses the color blue to indicate individuals that don’t qualify for intensive care or aggressive treatment.
This guideline established by governments worldwide serves as much-needed guidance to public health professionals and healthcare resources, allowing them to attend to those who need immediate care. It has become crucial to access medical facilities’ capacity to make the required arrangements of treating patients while adhering to the social distancing protocols.
It’s vital to evaluate the influx of COVID-19 cases while providing optimal treatment to patients and not adding any more threats to the existing hospital population.