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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
OCT 29, 2020
Protecting Healthcare Workers During COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a road map for healthcare employers to follow to address safety issues in their facilities and among their employees.
The CDC recommends that “facilities optimize the use of engineering controls to reduce or eliminate exposures by shielding healthcare employees and other patients from infected individuals, using:
Physical barriers and dedicated pathways to guide symptomatic patients through triage areas.
Remote triage facilities for patient intake areas.
If climate permits, outdoor assessment and triage stations for patients with respiratory symptoms.
Vacuum shrouds for surgical procedures likely to generate aerosols.
Reassess the use of open bay recovery areas.
Explore options to improve indoor air quality in all shared spaces.
Optimize air-handling systems (ensuring appropriate directionality, filtration, exchange rate, proper installation, and up-to-date maintenance).
Consider the addition of portable solutions (e.g., portable HEPA filtration units) to augment air quality in areas when permanent air-handling systems are not a feasible option.”
Read more detailed information from the CDC
Healthcare employers are learning more every day about how to keep their employees safe during the pandemic. Providing the appropriate personal protective equipment is crucial for all healthcare staff, no matter their role in patient care.
Healthcare workers also need to be tested. The CDC has established this set of testing criteria:
Displaying signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
When asymptomatic but with known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
When asymptomatic without known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 for early identification in special settings (e.g., nursing homes).
Following a confirmed diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection to determine when they infection is no longer present.
In addition to addressing their physical well-being, healthcare employers should acknowledge the potential for increased staff stress caused by the pandemic. Medical staff have been asked to work long shifts, with very sick patients, while having a limited understanding about what works best to save lives. They are learning as they go. In some cases, they have become the bridge between dying patients and their families, and in many cases, have watched patients die alone without any family contact.
The CDC provides a series of self-diagnostic questions that help healthcare workers assess their own resilience and coping abilities, and also provides a series of specific resources when the need for help is critical. Read more
Providing for the physical and emotional safety of healthcare workers in safe facilities continues to evolve as we learn more about the pandemic each month. Based on how far many healthcare systems have come already, it appears they take this responsibility seriously.