We have all heard of the COVID-19 (Cronovirus) which is believed to have originated in the Wuhan province of China. Which it then started spreading across the globe from major outbreaks in countries like Italy, Spain all the way to the United States. We know now there have been a number of countries who have gone in a nationwide lockdown (Italy, Spain, France, Germany). Here in the United States, many states have been doing everything they can to limit the spread. For example, most restaurants, bars, and other social gathering areas have been closed or limited.
Unfortunately for Healthcare workers, you are on the frontlines of this pandemic. Which will mean you may be the best source of information for family friends and clients. You will need to stay vigilant and strong for yourself and your patients.
Here are some tips as to what you may want to do. First, let’s start off with yourself. As we mentioned you are one in the thick of this epidemic and you need to make sure you are being safe and keeping yourself healthy and alert.
Of course, you need to follow the usual protocols of keeping your distance from others (when you can), make sure to be washing your hands when you can and maybe the hardest for many of you working inside hospitals and clinics is to make sure to get a good night’s sleep and eat as healthy as you can to keep up your energy. Remember you are not alone, if you need help, ask for it. We are all here for you.
Being alert will not only be crucial to keeping yourself safe but it can save a patient or coworker from being exposed to the virus. Whenever a new patient or individual comes to your clinic or emergency room take note of any symptoms they may be experiencing. Some of the known indicators of the COVID-19 (Crononvirus) may include some flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, sweating, shortness of breath, fatigue and muscle pain.
Some hospitals already have the ability to screen people who may have symptoms to another area specifically for them. However, if your clinic or office does not already have some measure in place, you must bring this up to your supervisor or boss. Remember you may be the only defense for some of our more vulnerable citizens. If you work in a home health care facility, Chemotherapy office or even an OBGYN office you are among the healthcare workers who need to lead the way in prevention to protect your patients. Some simple steps you can follow is anyone coming into your office must pass a test you set up like this:
- Fever check
- Visible cough
- Visible flu-like symptoms
- Ask them if they have been feeling fatigued more than usual
If they do not pass these tests, you must follow whatever protocols you have put in place. Maybe you have the facilities to have them quarantined from others, where you can have a doctor examine them.
If you do not have the facilities to house a potential COVID patient, you must have a protocol where you can send that individual to be tested.
These individuals may be scared and confused. It is up to you to make them understand you will do whatever you can to help them and make sure they received the care they need.
Now, this does not just stop at healthcare workers who may be working in Hospitals and clinics. You may find yourself one of many healthcare workers who are now working from home. You may not realize but you have a very important job. If you are an intake worker for a doctor’s office and are running a Medicare eligibility checks you know who are the most vulnerable.
You may already be aware of Telehealth but if not you should talk to your supervisor or boss about it.
It can be a great way to contact patients and let them know you are there for them. It may be just a simple phone call to see how they are feeling. Remember there are a lot of elderly patients who may be scared and have no one to care for them. Giving them a simple phone call and checking in on them to see if they are feeling ok, are they aware they should be limiting themselves to contact with others and are they in need of any supplies. These small acts of kindness can go a long way to people who are scared and they will very much appreciate it.
Follow some simple steps while talking with those patients:
- Ask them how they are feeling. (Note anything out of the ordinary. Some people will try to ignore small symptoms, it’s our job to be vigilant)
- If they have any symptoms document them. (Fever, cough, aches, and pains)
- If you deem them necessary set up a telehealth appointment with a doctor.
- If you feel they do not require a telehealth appointment, make sure you set up a callback time to check in with them for an update.
- Reassure the patient that doing a telehealth appointment is easy and simple. It will be just like they are in the office with the doctor.
- Follow up at an appropriate time before the doctor’s telehealth call to make sure the patient is ready
Please remember we are all in this together. You may be the only true point of contact for some of the most vulnerable people in society. Remember that some patients may try to hide symptoms thinking that it is nothing to be concerned about. If we follow some simple rules like social distancing, washing our hands regularly ( great idea to tell patients is sing happy birthday as they wash their hands) and limiting ourselves to any large gatherings, we will be able to stop the spread of this virus and get back to our day to day lives. Please stress these points to any patient you speak with.