This article provided by TNAA
This is a pandemic. To be clear, we’re talking about the misinformation surrounding coronavirus. Between the mask-buying panic and the rapidly-evolving disease itself, it’s essential to take a step back. First and foremost, a “pandemic” label won’t change infection protocol. And you, a smart and capable nurse, know what to do.
Here’s What We Know About COVID-19
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus. It’s part of a large family of viruses that are common in people and animals that, in rare cases, can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure, or death. So, what’s new? Typically, animal coronaviruses don’t infect people.
There’s still so much to learn about this new disease — namely, how easily it spreads. According to the CDC, it’s thought that person-to-person spread happens via respiratory droplets among close contacts. And, as a nurse, caring for patients can put you in close contact.
Healthcare personnel are situated squarely on the front lines caring for patients with confirmed infection with coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Naturally, that brings an increased risk of exposure, but, as you were trained, following infection prevention and control guidelines can minimize your risk of exposure.
Protecting Yourself in Real-Time
As a travel nurse, you’re in a unique situation away from what’s familiar. Except, that’s not entirely true. Your education, training, and skills transcend any physical location. Trust what you know. Every nurse has heard the adage, “follow the protocol,” and that holds. Adhering to CDC recommendations for infection prevention and control is critical.
- Know the Policy: Check with your nurse manager or charge nurse to ensure you know your facility’s isolation protocol. Do they have a particular floor designated? Airborne Infection Isolation Room? Assess and triage patients with symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19 to minimize exposure risks.
- Don’t Skimp on Protocol: Complete each and every step before or after all patient contact or contact with potentially infectious material. This goes for hand hygiene too.
- Practice With PPE: If it’s been a while, practice! Check out this quick guide from the CDC for proper don, use, and doff PPE.
COVID-19, Influenza & Preventing the Spread
Although COVID-19 is attracting a great deal of attention, the flu isn’t taking a back seat. While both of these infectious respiratory illnesses can look similar, the flu is impacting Americans more than COVID-19. As of February 15, the CDC estimated at least 29 million fell ill with the flu. So whether it’s the novel virus, one of the current flu strands, or a cold, here’s how you can prevent the spread:
- Stay Home: Restrict outside activities, except for getting appropriate medical care and avoid using public transportation.
- Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands, cover your sneezes, and avoid sharing personal items. As nurses, you know this, but make sure you’re practicing it in your own home.
- Communicate With Your Agency: If you cared for a patient infected with COVID-19 and are reporting symptoms, your agency needs to know.
How Agencies Are Reacting
Rest assured, as much as you see news about Coronavirus and Influenza; your agency teams are too. In fact, most agencies are actively communicating with NATHO and the Joint Commission. All potential exposures need to be worked through with local and state health departments using CDC guidance. Read CDC Guidance for healthcare professionals here.
Remember Ebola? Luckily, a lot of people do and used that to shape present-day responses. In fact, EPIC pushed out an update in January to help clinicians identify factors for a fast and effective diagnosis. You can read about their work with the CDC to update workflows here.