We are in uncharted waters as a society as we face a pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes. We are gathering data and charting and changing course as needed.
Right now in the United States, as already done in other countries, we need to 1) limit social interaction to “flatten the curve” to prevent a major sudden spike in cases of COVID-19 that would overwhelm health care facilities and compromise the ability to effectively treat patients, 2) protect those most at risk of developing severe symptoms (over 60, multiple underlying conditions, immunocompromised) 3) maintain basic societal needs (healthcare, food services, gas stations, utility services etc ), while 4) maintaining mental health and perspective.
As IONM professionals, we are patient care providers and we have a responsibility to continue to answer the call with prudence. We must maintain that responsibility, but how exactly do we continue to prudently provide care?
For IONM professionals, we should be following the recommendations of the CDC, our PCPs, and our healthcare facilities. Some things that IONM professionals can/should do now would be to:
- Increase our vigilance with infection control measures
- All equipment, including keyboards and mice, should be cleaned after every patient (not after every day).
- For hand cleansing, you should be washing your hands or using hand sanitizer immediately 1) before and after touching a patient or any patient equipment 2) after taking off gloves and before touching any keyboard, mouse, or patient equipment, 3) entering and exiting patient care and operating rooms.
- Practice social-distancing and avoid congregate settings. As patient care providers, it’s important that we minimize our risk so that we can continue to serve society.
- Immediately self-quarantine if you have a fever and dry cough and contact your PCP/Urgent Care facility.
- Inform your organization/healthcare facility if you experience any exposure risk to someone with confirmed COVID-19. The CDC has provided Guidance for HealthCare Personnel (HCP) to continue to provide care depending on their exposure risk in a personal/public setting or in the healthcare setting
- Health-care providers determined to have experienced MEDIUM or HIGH Risk-Level Exposure will need to be actively monitored and are excluded from working in the healthcare setting for 14 days since last exposure.
- Health-care providers determined to have experienced LOW Risk-Level Exposure will need to perform self-monitoring with delegated supervision until 14 days after the last potential exposure but may continue to work and provide in a healthcare setting. Please refer the detailed guidance in the link’s above.
Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
Congregate settings are crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums.
Close contact is defined as either A) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case, or B) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)
HIGH or MEDIUM Risk (Brief overview, please see guidelines for detail if experience any exposure level)
- Are living with or providing care in a nonhealthcare setting (such as a home) for a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection.
- Had prolonged contact with COVID-19 patient who was NOT wearing a facemask AND the PPE did not include both EYE Protection AND a facemask or respirato
- Had prolonged contact with COVID-19 patient who was wearing a facemask AND the HCP was NOT wearing a facemask or respirator
LOW Risk (Brief overview, please see guidelines for detail if experience any exposure level)
- Was in the same indoor environment (e.g., a classroom, a hospital waiting room) as a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 for a prolonged period but did NOT meet the definition of close contact
- Had prolonged contact with COVID-19 patient who was wearing a facemask AND the HCP PPE included wearing a facemask or respirator
A special thank you to W. Bryan Wilent for drafting this message!
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