The spread of COVID-19 earlier this year caught everyone off guard initially. This novel virus carries a high fatality rate, which has prompted many facilities to take special measures to keep their staff safe.
However, hospitals have to take extra precautions due to the high number of coronavirus-positive patients that visit them every day. This creates risks for both patients and staff residing in these facilities.
Staff at medical institutions have been following standard COVID-19 safety practices such as wearing personal protective equipment. NHS workers have also been practicing social distancing and washing their hands regularly for several months. Some hospitals have also started implementing new practices for keeping everyone in the facility safe.
Let’s look at some of the new ways hospitals are protecting their patients from COVID-19.
1.Prescreening and testing staff
People are trying to avoid visiting hospitals as much as possible during the current pandemic, as they wish to reduce the likelihood of catching the Coronavirus. However, people who are already residing in hospitals for other reasons may not have a choice in the matter.
The safety of these patients will depend on the measures taken by hospital staff. Luckily, many medical institutions across the country have begun pre-screening and testing their staff for COVID-19 regularly. In addition to this, the NHS has asked hospitals to test all their in-patients for the virus.
This practice reduces the likelihood that patients will come into contact with staff members or other patients harbouring the virus.
Telehealth has existed for several years, but it only gained popularity following the outbreak of COVID-19. It is the practice of using digital information and communication technology to attain healthcare services remotely and to look after your health.
Some forms of telehealth include:
- Virtual meetings and check ups with your doctor.
- Uploading blood sugar levels from your mobile device for medical staff to review.
- Ordering medical supplies online.
Telehealth could be viewed as another form of social distancing that allows patients to avail certain hospital services without having to physically visit the hospital themselves. Seeing that the highest percentage of COVID-19 patients in the country reside in hospitals, it’s important for people to avoid visiting these facilities if possible.
This practice obviously can’t replace every hospital function. Some patients will eventually require physical checkups or surgeries from a medical professional. However, telehealth can still reduce the number of hospital visits a given patient needs to make.
3.Improved ventilation in washrooms
Hospitals are known to possess great ventilation systems that filter out bacteria, germs, and viruses from the air. The primary purpose of these systems is to keep immunocompromised patients or patients with weak immune systems safe from deadly viruses.
Studies have found that COVID-19 can survive as an aerosol for 3 hours. For this reason, hospitals need to have good ventilation in every room frequented by staff and/or patients. Some hospitals have also fitted dedicated exhaust systems in their washrooms to reduce the likelihood of the virus hanging around.
Other hospitals have resorted to setting up public washrooms outside their facility for staff to use. These rooms are usually created with the help of interior fit out contractors, and can be customized to feature improvements over commercial toilet cubicles. By installing public washrooms outside the facility, hospitals can reduce the odds of the virus being introduced inside.
Interior fit out contractors can also design these rooms with special features such as sensor-operated doors and faucets. This makes it easier to use these washrooms without touching surfaces. One can hope these features become common with commercial toilet cubicles too.
4.Setting up sneeze shields
The Coronavirus’s primary method of transmission is through air droplets (i.e. sneezes and coughs). Due to this reason, many hospitals have begun to set up sneeze guard glass in different areas of their facility.
Some of these “shields” have been set up in areas frequented by patients, such as waiting rooms. Sneeze guard glass can be installed between seats in waiting rooms to create a physical barrier between patients who may be infected with the virus.
These panes can also be used to protect staff who interact with patients often. Hospital receptionists are especially susceptible to catching COVID-19 due to the large number of patients they are face-to-face with each day. Installing these glass barriers at reception desks allows receptionists to continue interacting with patients in a safer manner.
5.Setting up separate facilities for COVID-19 patients
Another way to protect in-hospital patients from the virus is to cordon off parts of the facility holding COVID-19 positive patients.
These sites can be kept a short distance from the main hospital. This will reduce the odds of patients directly transmitting the virus to other patients at the facility, while still being close enough to permit staff to travel between facilities easily.
Cordoned off areas are not a new idea during the pandemic. However, they are being implemented a little differently in the present.
The first areas for COVID-19 patients were simply different sections of the same hospital building. But as the pandemic has persisted, some hospitals began to construct separate facilities for holding Coronavirus-positive patients.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways for hospitals to keep their patients relatively safe from COVID-19. Some older practices will still persist, such as social distancing, hand washing, and wearing personal protective equipment. NHS workers are doing everything they can to keep the virus contained, so it is important that everyone plays their role in reducing the spread of COVID-19.