While Covid cases have been steadily dropping for the past several months, health officials warn that this winter will likely bring a resurgence of the virus. That coupled with the onset of cold and flu season and a shortage of healthcare workers is leaving medical facilities stretched.
AN UNPRECEDENTED WINTER OF VIRUSES
A recent article from nbcnews.com states that hospitals are preparing for an unprecedented winter of viruses. It will be another winter with Covid cases and one that is expected to include high levels of influenza and other respiratory illness patients.
Flu cases are already on the rise in the U.S. and pediatricians are seeing a growing number of children presenting symptoms of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and enteroviruses. Couple that with the anticipated increase in Covid cases due to increased indoor activity and it seems like the perfect viral storm.
In addition to the anticipated rise in respiratory infections, the healthcare industry is dealing with an unprecedented staffing shortage. Healthcare workers are quitting at rates 23% higher than when the Covid pandemic began, leaving those who stay on the front lines with unmanageable workloads and extended hours.
HOW TO PREPARE
If you manage a medical facility, you are most certainly on the front lines and need to take extra precautions in order to manage what could be a very difficult flu season.
Healthcare officials are urging people to get a flu shot and Covid boosters to help stem the tide and mitigate the need for medical care. Pediatricians and medical professionals are encouraging people to double down on prevention measures like masks, social distancing, and improved cleaning and disinfecting protocols. These approaches have proven effective in the past and are our first line of defense against these diseases.
ENSURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH PPE
Medical facilities need to ensure they have ample supplies of personal protective equipment. Masks, gloves, and gowns were in short supply when the pandemic hit, and many healthcare centers were caught off guard. Now is the time to take inventory and ensure sufficient supplies.
It is also recommended that all staff be re-educated on proper procedures for donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) PPE. Be sure to encourage (or require) the use of face coverings for patients and visitors as well.
ENFORCE PERSONAL HYGIENE PROTOCOLS
Strictly follow the steps for proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and encourage staff, visitors, and patients to follow them as well. This will help mitigate the spread of germs in your medical facility. Be sure that you make hand sanitizers, tissues, and masks accessible to all patients and staff and encourage their use. Also, make sure that soap dispensers in restrooms are always full.
REGULARLY CLEAN AND SANITIZE HIGH-TOUCH SURFACES
High-touch surfaces in a medical facility are far more likely to harbor viruses and bacteria than the average home or place of business. It is vital that these surfaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. Consider hiring professional janitorial staff or a day porter to manage these tasks for you as you may already be working with limited staff. Do not overlook everyday items like common-use pens, clipboards, telephones, and office equipment.
PERFORM DAILY DEEP CLEANING OF YOUR FACILITY
Hiring a commercial cleaning company with medical facility experience to manage daily cleaning and disinfection will ensure that your facility is properly cleaned and disinfected every day. This allows you to begin each business day with a clean slate and will make maintaining cleanliness throughout the day more manageable.