Negative pressure system allows senior living facility 'to make sure we're prepared' amid COVID-19

Justin Johnson

CEDARBURG -- A remedy to get rid of mold and contaminated sewage water is being used to stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities -- with more than one-third of all coronavirus-related deaths statewide involving patients in long-term care.

In his nearly two decades in the restoration business, Justin Johnson has learned how to step in during every crisis.

"A lot of our customers are usually going through life-changing situations or their life has been derailed," said Johnson with 1-800 Water Damage.

Amid the coronavirus pandemid, 1-800 Water Damage has found a creative way to get businesses back on track.

"We knew that some of our existing protocols for mold remediation, bacteria cleanup would be a good fit for doing what we can to stop the spread of the virus," said Johnson.

Officials at Lasata Senior Living Campus in Ozaukee County wanted to do just that.

"You just know what's going to happen, and we want to make sure we're prepared if and when it does happen," said Deb Steele, director of nursing at Lasata Senior Living Campus.

While no residents have tested positive so far, officials wanted to create a negative air pressure chamber at the facility for any residents who may in the future.

Deb Steele

"If we do have a positive case, we will transfer the resident to that unit, and have designated staff so we're not introducing those staff members to the rest of the residents and community within our building," said Steele.

The air in the enclosure goes through a filtration system, and they control where it exits.

"By doing that, it creates a negative pressure," said Johnson. "Where when someone may open the entry point, air is online, able to come in, instead of escape."

"It's a gold standard of care in cases of respiratory illness," said Kirsten Johnson, health officer, Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.

Kirsten Johnson said it's often used in hospital systems. It isn't new, but it's growing in popularity to fight the coronavirus.

"I think it's a really smart investment in long-term care to look at the potential for spread within their own communities, and have a way, and have thought about how to respond if they do have positive cases," said Kirsten Johnson.

"It's very important to us to keep our residents safe," said Steele.

Two staff members at Lasata Senior Living Campus did test positive for COVID-19, but they have since recovered.