With two deaths confirmed in the U.S. and scientists warning the new coronavirus could already have spread much more widely than believed in one state, world health officials warn that COVID-19 may enter a new phase in the U.S. at some point.
“With the virus now spreading to at least 12 states, U.S. hospitals and healthcare facilities continue to take steps to protect patients and healthcare staff from the virus,” says Hank Drummond, Chief Clinical Officer at Cross Country Healthcare. “As a trusted partner to healthcare facilities across the country, we are committed to helping our valued clients prepare for and protect their organization from the spread of COVID-19.”
There are several strategies that healthcare facilities must take in order to reduce the risk of infection among patients and staff. These include:
- Conduct a hazard assessment for ALL hospital staff, no matter what the job title, that includes job responsibilities and proximity to patients who have confirmed, or are under investigations for, COVID-19.
- Conduct training for ALL hospital staff, not just healthcare staff, on COVID-19 including identification, symptoms, modes of transmission, incubation period and protective measures determined by the hazard assessment.
- Make sure there is an adequate supply of surgical masks for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 patients. (Note: surgical masks do not protect the wearer. For protection from exposure, a respirator and other PPE is required.)
- Make sure there is an adequate supply of PPE (gloves, gowns, goggle or face shields, N95 respirators or powered air-purifying respirators [PAPRs]) for all those determined by the hazard assessment to need them.
- Make sure there are designated negative pressure rooms both in the ED and on designated in-patient units for Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- Make sure negative pressure rooms are checked daily to confirm that adequate negative pressure is maintained.
- Make sure there is adequate RN staffing to conduct pre-registration identification of COVID-19 PUIs and confirmed cases.
- Make sure there is adequate in-patient staffing for units designated to treat or investigate COVID-19 PUIs and confirmed cases. The CDC recommends assigning staff from each shift to care for these patients alone in order to help prevent nosocomial infection of other patients.
- Make sure there is additional staffing to help staff assigned to the patient in order to assist with PPE donning/doffing as well as an observer (as was done for Ebola).
- Make sure there are protocols in place to mask family and other visitors who enter the hospital with the COVID-19 PUI or confirmed case.
“Cross Country Healthcare and our leaders remain committed to keep our valued clients informed with up-to-date information,” says Drummond. “The health and safety of healthcare organizations across the U.S. remains of utmost important to us.”
Cross Country Healthcare has created a hotline at 800-998-5058 to answer any questions or concerns our customers and staff may have. Be safe, practice safe and know safety!