With the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, the global medical community has been working hard to come up with protocols to contain it. The virus travels from person to person either by droplets of bodily fluids dispersed through the air or by touching infected surfaces and then the face in the same way as influenza and other respiratory diseases. People in enclosed areas are particularly vulnerable to the virus which can take up to 14 days to incubate and show symptoms.

It’s vital that healthcare systems prepare for and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, so we’re highlighting four tips we’re seeing within the healthcare community.

How the 2019-2020 Flu Season Compares

First, let’s take a look at COVID-19 vs. the flu. The flu continues to wreak its usual seasonal havoc across the United States with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) weekly flu surveillance report estimating 32 million cases and 18,000 deaths by mid-February 2020. Compared with COVID-19, the flu has a lower reported death rate but has killed a far higher number of people in the US. The flu and COVID-19 are spread in similar ways, with infection control policies being vital to containment for both.

1.    Preparing – A Watchful Eye on Supply Chain

The COVID-19 outbreak has put a focus and likely a strain on many hospitals’ supply chains. Consider putting together a risk matrix for your supplies that will allow you to put conservation strategies in place for the supplies that are likely at higher risk of running out. Prioritize a focus on the protective (vs. therapeutic) supplies and work to have transparency with your suppliers on your expectations and upcoming needs.

In the future, the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to shine a light on potential weaknesses in the healthcare supply chain due to the standardization and consolidation of suppliers. There could be a move to a more diverse supply chain in the future to allow the healthcare systems more flexibility when future disruptions occur.

2.    Infection Control in Hospitals

Minimize the spread of both COVID-19 and influenza in your hospital by reviewing your infection controls regularly. In addition to basic protocols like hand-washing, environmental hygiene, and surveillance, proper labeling and communication can play a big role in effective onsite disease prevention.

Refer to the CDC’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for patients with suspected or confirmed Coronavirus in healthcare settings.

3.    Higher Levels of Precaution

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) requires higher levels of precaution for handling patients with dangerous, contagious diseases. Patients suspected of having COVID-19 should be treated with extra care, including precautions around patient and droplet contact. Providers can achieve this using brightly colored isolation and precautions warning labels and wristbands, as well as bio-hazard specimen labeling, transportation labels and bags, and waste disposal bags.

Sealed packaging and colorful labels not only raise awareness of the need for caution while handling contaminated products, but they also carry educational messages for workers. COVID-19 is new, after all, and healthcare facilities are still learning and training their employees on proper protocol.

4.    A Different Approach to Patient Handling

As more people turn up at emergency rooms with COVID-19 concerns, hospitals might have to start triaging them differently too. Some options to consider, according to Dr. Nancy Messonier of the CDC, include:

  • Directing patients with coronavirus symptoms through a different entrance
  • Postponing elective procedures to free up resources until later
  • Stockpiling symptomatic treatments such as anti-fever and anti-nausea medications

PDC is here to support and help our healthcare customers however possible. It’s vital to have open communication and transparency as we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information on how to enhance your infectious disease control, please contact PDC at 800.435.4242.