There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the vast majority of people in the United States. Whether you have known someone personally that has suffered through the illness, you have fought it yourself, or your life has been affected by lockdown and restrictive measures, the pandemic has been far-reaching. But nowhere are the effects as obvious as when it comes to the healthcare workers.
These are the front-line workers who are battling against this highly contagious illness each and every day, doing their best to care for their patients while also remaining safe and healthy themselves. But what specific steps can healthcare workers take in order to keep themselves safe during these times? Here are some of the tips they can incorporate into their daily life.
1. Hand Hygiene – It Can’t Be Overstated
You hear about it on the news, read about it in the papers, and see the messaging just about everywhere – hand hygiene is the ultimate tool in helping to keep yourself safe during the pandemic. It may sound oversimplified – it’s just washing your hands – but if you don’t allow the virus to live on your hands, then you cannot spread the infection to yourself when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, which of course you want to avoid doing as well.
In general, healthcare workers tend to put the public to shame when it comes to hand washing, as they realize it should be done each time you start a task, and then when you complete it. Let’s say, for example, you just get in from grocery shopping – before even putting the food away, hand washing should come first. Then, after you handle the items, hand washing should be done again. There really is no such thing as too much hand washing.
Using hand sanitizer is just as important as regular hand washing. In fact, it should be done automatically when entering or leaving a room in a healthcare facility. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, which kills viruses. Only a small dime-sized amount is needed but it must be rubbed in until the hand sanitizer has been fully absorbed.
2. Ensure Proper PPE Is Worn Inside All Healthcare Environments
Another essential tool in the tool chest for healthcare workers is PPE. Everyone is well aware of the shortages that have happened around the world as the number of cases continues to climb. Healthcare workers must have access to the proper kind of PPE that protects them and allows them to work with patients without fear of infection themselves.
The need for better types of PPE and more of it has prompted a lot of companies to step up, and many to start manufacturing the equipment at levels never seen before. It has opened the door to new sources of equipment and some incredible innovations meant to make the job of healthcare workers safer and more effective.
One company even developed a PAPR respirator system that features powerful HEPA filtration to capture 99.97% of particulates of 0.3µm or larger, an eight-hour battery life, safety user alerts, and is simple to clean. It is meant to give wearers a “critical advantage over wearing a mask.”
3. Changing Clothes After a Shift
All healthcare workers should change into clear clothes at the end of their shift. Whilst it’s often common for healthcare workers to wear their scrubs as they travel home, only removing them when they get home, during the pandemic, this is unsafe.
The virus can spread on all kinds of surfaces, including fabric, so it’s dangerous to continue wearing scrubs of any other clothing when you have been in contact with sick patients.
Carry a set of clean clothes in a sealed back and change into these at the end of your shift, making sure you wash your hands thoroughly first. Take your contaminated scrubs or clothes home in a sealed bag and launder them on a hot wash to remove any viral contamination. Shoes are important too, so take your shoes off outside your home and put them in a bag before you take them indoors.
If you don’t have a place at work where you can change your clothes, remove them as soon as you enter your home and put them straight in the washing machine. That way, you won’t contaminate your home and infect yourself at the same time.
Jump in a hot shower as soon as you get home after your shift. Make this part of your after-work ritual, even if you are hungry or desperate for a drink. Hygiene is more important than a cold beer!
4. Don’t Car-Share
Sharing a ride to work with a friend is sensible for lots of reasons – it saves money and the environment – but during the pandemic, you are much safer if you travel to and from work alone. There is a danger that if you share a ride with a co-worker or friend and they are infected with Covid-19, you’ll be infected too.
If not sharing a ride means traveling on public transit, sharing a ride may be the better option, but weigh it up before you make a final decision.
5. Constant Self-Monitoring
Then there is the need for constant self-monitoring, being hyper-aware of how you yourself are feeling. While it’s true that not all COVID-19 patients have noticeable symptoms, any changes you may experience should be addressed immediately and with a level of high caution.
Most are well aware of the numbers when it comes to how many healthcare workers have themselves been infected by the virus, so self-monitoring needs to be an essential step they all take. It’s the approach of never letting your guard down, and never assume you are “safe”.
You can also read: Coronavirus On Different Surfaces – How To Prevent Coronavirus
Keeping Safe, Healthy, and Strong is Essential
Keeping the country’s healthcare workers safe, healthy, and strong needs to be a priority in each and every state, and that includes arming them with the preventative measures, tools, and knowledge they need to go about their job each day.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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