As the nation and the world grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that we protect our front-line in this battle, our healthcare workforce. Doctors, nurses, physicians’ assistants, and everyone else at our hospital setting are at enhanced risk for contracting the virus, and it is vital that we do everything possible o keep them safe. This issue is particularly acute in our nation’s emergency rooms.
The experience of Hong Kong, China, and other nations has led to a better notion of best practices in the industry to insure the greatest degree of protection for our nation’s healthcare workforce. It is true that being on the front lines of treating the disease, these individuals are at greater risk of exposure, but there are a number of things that they can do, and that government can do, to insure best practices and the greatest degree of protection.
It bears repeating that healthcare workers, like the general population, should be absolutely vigilant in measures such as hand-washing or hand hygiene. In addition, healthcare workers must wear surgical masks and use personal protective equipment (PPE) during all patient care but especially when there are procedures or situations that generate airborne particles from the patient.
It is absolutely essential that every healthcare worker have the appropriate surgical masks and PPEs that they need at all times. It is the definition of gross negligence for a hospital or for the government to permit anything less for our brave workforce.
In addition to personal protection, it is important that the screening process be able to identify a patient infected with Covid-19 and that the person is immediately isolated in a room where airborne particles are completely in isolation from others.
Hospitals in other nations that have seen success insured that there were enhanced infection control measures, training on the use of PPE equipment, raining on proper hand hygiene, regular hand hygiene assessments, increased us of PPEs, insuring good diagnostic facilities and access to remote advice, ensuring the provision of specialist healthcare, and of course, the individual responsibility procedures during off hours such as social distancing.
It is important to note the vital importance of ALL of these procedures. Researchers have warned that a breakdown in any, including the social distancing of the general public including the healthcare workforce at all possible times, will limit the effectiveness of other strategies.
It has been continually said that “we are all in this together” and that is certainly true. But our brave men and women on the front-lines of this crisis are shouldering an enormous burden for our society and deserve everything possible for their safety. There is little of greater importance than protecting our healthcare workers and Americans should demand nothing less.
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