The coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every individual around the globe in some form. Aside from patients and their families, however, no one has been more affected than the healthcare workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. Medical staff, many of whom are already experiencing burnout, are more stressed than ever. In addition to the stress of fighting the coronavirus outbreak, healthcare workers are at high risk of contracting the virus themselves.
So what are hospitals doing to fight this pandemic? We’ll take a look at what hospitals around the world are doing and can do to protect employees and stop the spread while caring for patients.
Minimizing the risk of medical staff contracting coronavirus should be a top priority for all healthcare organizations at the moment. If doctors and nurses become infected, they will need to be quarantined for at least 14 days. These missed days will put additional strain on already stressed staff. Additionally, infected workers may unknowingly spread the virus throughout the facility, infecting colleagues and patients being treated by the hospital for other conditions.
In a recent article published in Radiology, a panel of experts from 6 institutions gave recommendations on how healthcare facilities can protect employees. Among the recommendations:
- Screen people for coronavirus symptoms at entrances.
- Mask patients during exams and procedures.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize equipment and surfaces regularly.
- Suspend employee travel for one month.
- Provide infection control training.
The key is limiting employees’ exposure to the virus as much as possible while they care for virus-stricken patients.
Stopping the Spread
Hospitals have become ground zero for the spread of coronavirus. With so many virus-stricken patients in one facility, the virus can spread rapidly if appropriate measures aren’t taken, resulting in even more infections. In combination with the above tips for protecting employees, the panel of experts recommends the following to help stop the virus from spreading throughout the facility:
- Implement protocols to direct patients infected with coronavirus or suspected of being infected to the appropriate department (urgent care, radiology, etc.) with minimal risk of transmission.
- Establish drive-thru testing sites.
- Set aside separate urgent care sites for coronavirus patients and other patients.
- Allow remote work for staff where it’s applicable.
- Quarantine staff who have been exposed to coronavirus patients.
Another way hospitals can fight the spread of coronavirus is providing in-home care to non-infected patients, particularly the elderly. This recommendation comes from Italian physicians who have seen just how devastating the pandemic can be to the healthcare system. Italy has become the epicenter of the outbreak in recent weeks, and doctors are having to make the difficult decision to prioritize patients based on the likelihood of survival. This means elderly patients “are not being resuscitated and die alone without appropriate palliative care,” according to the physicians. By attending to the population’s most vulnerable individuals at home, hospitals can help curb transmission.
The Italian physicians also recommend setting aside separate hospitals for coronavirus patients to prevent other patients from contracting the virus. California is in the process of doing just that. The state is leasing two hospitals, one of which recently shut down, to provide 486 beds specifically for COVID-19 patients. The $30 million deal will be paid for with emergency coronavirus funds. Verity Health System owns both facilities and will operate them on behalf of the state. The facility that is currently open, Seton Medical Center, has already expanded capacity to care for up to 120 coronavirus patients, and the closed facility, St. Vincent Medical Center in LA, hopes to open as soon as possible to care for up to 366 patients.
iPro is Here to Help
As healthcare workers face the greatest challenge of their lives, the iPro family is here to help. We know that even the slightest software issues can be especially serious during this time of increased strain. As always, our support team is available 24/7 to help customers keep their facilities running as smoothly as possible while caring for coronavirus patients. If you’re in need of iOrder support, please don’t hesitate to contact us:
During this crisis, efficiency is crucial for handling the influx of patients. Our ambulatory order management software, iOrder, can help streamline workflows, provide clinical decision support, and eliminate faxes. To learn more about how iOrder can increase efficiency at your facility, contact us.