The one thing on virtually everyone’s mind as we near the end of 2020 is finding a way to end the COVID-19 pandemic. While reports indicate a vaccine is just on the horizon, the release of one won’t mean the current health crisis is over. Though there are human challenge studies to accelerate coronavirus vaccine licensure, it will take time for an effective vaccine to be discovered, approved and distributed on a global scale. Even with a vaccine, preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus will remain important, and steps will need to be taken to protect people from the virus well into the foreseeable future.
Healthcare workers are on the frontlines of both caring for sick patients and preventing the spread of the virus. From using antimicrobial laundry detergent to monitoring your own health, there are several things you can do as a healthcare professional to keep others safe. Keep reading to discover some important sanitation tips for healthcare professionals and other ways you can keep yourself and others safe!
Protecting Others While You’re at Work
Taking steps to prevent the spread while you are at work is vital. In additi
on to following all of your facility’s protocols and policies, there are several things you can do to avoid becoming contaminated yourself or spreading the virus to patients, staff members, your family or the community.
Choose your workwear carefully. Antimicrobial nursing scrubs are your best bet. You may also want to consider swapping out your looser scrub pants in favor of well-fitting men’s tapered scrub pants that won’t drag on the floor.
When you go to work, only bring the things you absolutely need. Now simply is not the time to bring several personal items with you to work since everything you bring into the facility has the potential to be contaminated. Ideally, your phone, wallet and any other personal items should be kept in the locker room or breakroom rather than carried with you throughout your shift.
The things you do take to work with you need to be sanitized frequently. Your medical equipment, of course, needs to be sanitized between each patient, as always. But you also need to frequently sanitize things like pens, notepads and your phone (if you are carrying it with you).
While you already take steps to sanitize in between patients, you need to be even more diligent now than ever before–especially when working with known or suspected COVID-19 patients. Use appropriate PPE, and wash your hands and forearms thoroughly in between patients. Now is not the time to rush through sanitization and sterilization procedures, so take your time to ensure you have completely decontaminated yourself after working with someone who is or might be sick.
At the end of your shift, change into clean clothes before heading home, if possible. Put your soiled scrubs in a plastic bag and place the bag in the back of your car. Change your shoes when you get in your car at the end of the day, too, placing your work shoes in a bag or container in the back. The goal is to avoid wearing potentially contaminated shoes and apparel outside of the healthcare facility in which you work.
Protecting Others at Home
As soon as you get home, put your dirty laundry in the washing machine or a designated hamper in your garage or by the front door. Leave your work shoes in your car, in your garage or outside your door. Launder your clothes using the warmest water temperature recommended on the tag, and use antimicrobial laundry detergent.
Taking a shower as soon as you get home is recommended, too, as doing so removes any germs that may still be lingering on your body. It may be difficult, but it’s best to shower before interacting with your family (or even your pets).
Sanitize your phone, wallet and anything else you had with you while you were at work.
Clean and sanitize the interior of your car on at least a weekly basis. Be sure to wipe down high-touch surfaces, including the door handles, steering wheel, radio, window buttons, shifter, etc. If you regularly have people other than yourself in your car, it’s a good idea to sanitize it immediately after each shift to help protect the people you are transporting.
Taking Care of Yourself
Keeping yourself healthy is one of the best things you can do to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition to taking steps to properly wash your hands, sterilize your tools and workwear, etc., it is important to be proactive about managing all aspects of your personal health.
Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest. These simple things can be challenging during stressful times, but doing them goes a long way toward safeguarding your health. Check your temperature twice per day, and monitor yourself for other symptoms of COVID-19. If you have any reason to think you might have contracted the virus, get tested immediately. Then, isolate yourself and avoid going to work.
During your off time, try to distance yourself from work as much as possible. Limit your exposure to the media, and ask your friends and loved ones not to come to you with all of their questions and concerns regarding the virus. Take walks, read or do other things you enjoy. Taking your mind off work and the pandemic is good for your mental health,which can help protect your physical health.
If you are struggling mentally or emotionally, seek help. There are resources out there for healthcare professionals, and you should take advantage of them if you are having a hard time.
The Bottom Line
As a healthcare professional, you are on the frontlines of battling a health crisis like no one else currently living has experienced. Preventing the spread of the virus is vital and will remain extremely important even once a vaccine becomes available. By following the suggestions above, you are doing your part to protect yourself, your patients, your fellow healthcare professionals, your family and the community as a whole.