Preventing the rapid spread of infectious disease has rarely been more top of mind for caregivers than it is at this moment. Chances are, that’s going to continue in the months and years to come. But how can we fight viruses that seem to infect healthcare providers as readily as the patients they treat?
While there’s no magic bullet solution, there are a few tried-and-true resources to help make sure that, whether you’re working ER shifts or caring for a loved one at home, you remain as risk free as possible when treating highly infectious patients. Even when the current crisis passes, these steps are likely to endure as the new normal for many years to come.
How Can Caregivers HELP Reduce the Risk of Infection?
You already know the basics — clean your hands regularly, wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), stay at least 6 feet from others at all times. And you know equally well that, as a healthcare workers, you don’t always have the luxury of observing these basic rules, particularly when close-contact care is needed.
Yet even a small effort to meet these basic standards can have a tremendous effect, particularly when practiced en masse. “Appropriate hand hygiene is the number one measure to prevent contracting and passing infectious pathogens,” as the experts at RegisteredNursing.org observe.
“Studies have shown that institutions that educate nurses on basic hand hygiene and require a demonstrated competency have the least amount of hospital acquired infections and illness to staff.”
Beyond keeping your distance when possible and keeping those hands scrubbed at all times, it’s also important to get as up to speed as you can with your facility’s policies for treating patients who may be positive for COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.
You also need to know how to access protective equipment at your facility at all times, knowing that every organization and sometimes department has different processes and forms required to use basic PPE like masks, gowns, gloves and goggles. Get your mask size updated, if it’s been a while — and definitely if you’ve recently changed hairstyles.
- PPE must be worn correctly as each situation or disease warrants and must always be donned prior to exposure with patients. If in doubt, consult this infographic from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) — and share it at your facility, if you think it’ll help.
It’s also a good idea to get yourself acquainted with each facility’s escalation procedures and protocol for testing, treatment, and even quarantine. You should know who to notify, and what to expect, if you think you’re showing signs of the virus or feeling ill for any reason.
Finally, don’t panic! Most facilities have well-tested policies in place for just this moment. They may be pushed to their limits in the months to come, but there’s no reason to doubt their effectiveness is bolstered by teamwork and love of our shared communities.
- To help move the needle farther towards “full safety,” some nurse organizations are alerting Congress to the need for greater availability to essential PPE. Registered nurses can join the American Nurses Association (ANA)’s call to Congress here.
For more resources on the day-to-day progress of the COVID-19 coronavirus, check out The World Health Organization (WHO)’s live updates and The Joint Commission’s Infection Prevention and Control resources. For a frequently updated international assessment, check out this country-by-country coronavirus tracker at worldometers.info.
We Take Care of Our Workers.
Another way to reduce risk of infection during your next assignment: The unpredictable and rapid spread of COVID-19 has shown that quarantines can happen suddenly and without warning; if that presents a financial concern, consider enlisting with a staffing provider who offers quarantine compensation for up to 14 days.
At CareerStaff, we take care of our workers. We know how important you are, and we’re careful to keep you healthy during the course of your assignment. That includes making sure you have the equipment and info you need, as well as strict policies to prevent infection and the assurance of quarantine reimbursement.
And if you’re willing to take the fight on the road, we can also connect you with assignments in locations struggling to treat COVID-19 patients. Because the need has become so serious, nurses and clinicians in good standing can work in any state, so your license is good anywhere in the U.S. you want to work. .