Of all groups affected by COVID-19, healthcare workers are hit the hardest. These are the people on the frontlines fighting coronavirus, treating patients, and keeping them as comfortable as possible.
Unfortunately, being so close to the virus puts healthcare workers at large risk for contracting it.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to protecting senior care facilities. Considering that elderly patients are impacted most when sick with coronavirus, avoiding any infections and further spreading is a priority.
If you’re a nurse, physician, assistant, technician, or anyone else working directly with sick patients, then you need to practice extra caution to keep yourself healthy.
Below, we have some helpful advice to help keep healthcare workers and their patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Understand Risky Activities
To begin with, you should understand the risk levels associated with each activity you might be required to complete.
Some tasks are riskier than others and will require additional measures to ensure your safety. Because of this, it’s important to know what actions involve high levels of risk.
At the lowest level, a good example would be completing paperwork in a personal office. Risk is still involved because you’ll inevitably need to travel through public environments.
Stepping things up a notch, treating the general public is a little more dangerous. This is only true if they do not have COVID-19. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to confirm if a patient has the virus and this uncertainty creates the possibility of contracting it.
Higher risk levels involve directly treating a patient that is confirmed to carry coronavirus. Simply being in the same room and needing to touch them makes transmission more likely.
The riskiest situations involve handling any specimen from a patient with COVID-19 and procedures that produce aerosols. Both scenarios involve likely direct exposure to virus particles and this makes contraction nearly inevitable.
Take these examples into consideration and evaluate how much risk is involved with each task you’re doing. Ensure that you’re taking appropriate precautions as your situation requires.
Practice Minimal Touching
Next, you should practice minimal touching and rethink how you use your hands.
Touching may be necessary for certain parts of treatment, but this creates the possibility of spreading coronavirus. If you were to then unknowingly touch your face, this could get you sick.
With this in mind, you must avoid touching anything around you, including yourself, as much as possible. You’re likely to be wearing gloves, but your gloves can also pick up the virus.
If you must touch things, begin by dealing with clean areas first and finishing with contaminated objects.
This also means refraining from touching door handles, light switches, containers, and equipment with contaminated gloves. Make sure to remove your gloves and apply new ones frequently to avoid spreading germs.
It can be hard to remember this because it’s natural to rest your hands on your body or face. This is a mistake because you can contaminate your scrubs and spread the virus to yourself.
Make a conscious effort to avoid touching anything and use clean gloves as much as possible.
Use PPE Properly
Another important tip is to ensure that you’re using personal protective equipment (PPE) properly.
Remembering to wear gloves and swapping them out regularly is one great example of using PPE properly, but many others also exist. PPE is an effective defense for keeping you protected, but not if you are using it incorrectly.
One specific piece of PPE that many people mistakenly use involves face masks. The mask must be rated N95 to ensure the filtering of dangerous particles.
Where the problems occur is when you wear the mask. It must fit snugly on your face and create a seal. Without this seal, particles can still travel around your mask and be inhaled.
The other concern is removing your mask. It must be discarded in marked bins that will avoid anyone getting infected by interacting with them.
Whether you’re using gloves, masks, gowns, or other PPE devices, you need to be using them correctly to receive the full benefit.
Manage Mental Health
Something you may overlook is managing your mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic is insanely stressful and your body certainly knows this. Your mind also understands this, but you may not be taking appropriate action to keep your mental health in check.
Your daily life is likely dramatically different and adjusting to change is never easy. If you don’t take the time to put your sanity first, then you won’t be in the best state of mind to care for patients.
When you’re overworked, stressed, and fatigued, mistakes are easier to make. Your patients deserve the best care possible and that starts with caring for yourself.
Don’t ignore how you feel and spend time doing things that bring you joy. With so much chaos happening around you, it’s important to remember that good things do still exist.
Respond Quickly to Exposure
Lastly, you must respond quickly to any concerns of potential exposure.
As terrifying as it may seem, being exposed to COVID-19 means that you don’t have time to panic. Should you continue to treat patients or interact with coworkers, you risk exposing them to the virus as well.
Being exposed does not necessarily mean you will get sick, but there’s also the possibility of contracting the virus and being asymptomatic. This is why precaution is necessary to eliminate any risk of spreading the virus.
You should begin by having your symptoms evaluated and checking your temperature. Keep a close eye on your body as you go about your day.
Adhere to social distancing guidelines by staying six feet away from others. Wear a mask at all times and frequently sanitize the places that you stay in.
Should you start developing symptoms, you must go home to avoid infecting others. The quicker you respond, the lesser the chance that anyone else is affected by exposures.
Healthcare workers are considered essential during coronavirus and there’s no confusion as to why. They are directly confronting COVID-19 by treating the patients that need medical assistance.
In the process of doing this, there is an inherent risk by interacting with the general public. Because of this, you must be particularly careful to avoid contracting and/or spreading coronavirus.
A few tips to help you do this include understanding risky activities, practicing minimal touching, using PPE properly, managing your mental health, and responding quickly to exposure should it happen.
The threat of COVID-19 isn’t fading, so you must be proactive to keep yourself safe. Implement these tips to limit infections and keep things a little more manageable.
Interesting related article: “What is the Coronavirus?“