On March 3, 2020, Nancy Messonnier, MD, Director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”), held a medical telebriefing on COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus disease. She reported confirmed cases in 12 states. While the CDC, at a national level, and state health departments, on a local level, are taking steps to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19, she highlighted the importance of informed clinicians in batting the spread of the virus. Here are some recommended actions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Precautions in Healthcare Facilities:
- Review Infection Control Policies with Employees and Visitors Strictly adhere to all facility policies concerning minimizing exposure to respiratory pathogens. For example, wearing personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and eyewear, utilizing airborne infection isolation rooms when possible, and isolating patients when necessary.
- Employee and Visitor Screening and Access Strictly adhere to all facility policies concerning monitoring who is entering the facility. Including asking family members about travel, cold symptoms, maintaining an accurate sign-in log, and restricting certain visitors. While public health facilities are required by regulations to accept visitors, there are generally exceptions to this when it comes to the health and safety of patients. Be sure to discuss changes to visitor polices with patients as part of their service and care plans. Facilitate alternatives to in-person visitations, such as phone calls, Facetime, and text messaging. Consider blanket prohibitions on visitors if the facility is located in an area with known cases of COVID-19.
- Supply Items for Basic Hygiene Ensure there are tissues, hand sanitizer, soap, and respiratory masks for the residents, staff, providers, and visitors throughout the facility.
- Educate Educate residents, staff, providers, and visitors on the individual actions to reduce spread and impact. Posting signs with these recommendations is encouraged. Provide advance warning that access to the facility may be restricted on short notice.
- Stay Informed and Communicate It is important for providers to be in close contact with state and local health department to understand the precautions being taken at the local level. This also includes reporting any cases to the local health departments as necessary. Consider reaching out to state and local regulatory agencies to inquire whether they have more specific guidance.