Risk Communication and PPE: How Facilities Are Protecting Healthcare Workers

Over the past two months, most industries have been flipped on their heads and healthcare is no exception. To manage the spread of coronavirus, face-to-face interactions have slowed or halted. Elective procedures have been postponed, primary care appointments have been moved to a telemedicine model when possible, and hospital visitors have been heavily restricted. Conversely, for healthcare staff working on the front lines of the pandemic, things are far busier if not chaotic in some regions. Workers are now operating in environments that pose a greater threat to their own health and run the risk of becoming overburdened due to the outbreak. In response to this “new world,” health systems have quickly adapted to rapidly changing environments with new procedures and policies and have shifted their purchasing efforts to secure enough PPE (personal protective equipment) for front line workers.

It’s a rapidly changing landscape to be sure. Almost daily, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are releasing updates to help facilities address coronavirus risks and PPE supply shortages. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services declared that during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak, an EUA (emergency use authorization) would apply to personal respiratory protective devices1, such as face masks2 and face shields3. The CDC has recommended that all facilities in the US implement PPE contingency strategies immediately, including reprocessing PPE, extending the use of products such as face masks beyond contact with a single patient, and, if commercial PPE is unavailable, utilizing alternative products that will reduce exposure4.

At PlatinumCode, we’ve listened to countless stories describing the challenges that healthcare facilities are facing every day during the outbreak. From visitors trying to sneak into regulated areas so that they can see loved ones, to front line workers using garbage bags as protective gowns, these stories have resonated deeply with us. While we can’t join the front lines of the pandemic, we are trying to respond in any way we can to support our customers during these challenging times.

We are sourcing additional PPE products to get them to the front lines faster. In addition to nitrile gloves, PlatinumCode has established a supply chain for other PPE items, such as face masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer. Many other countries are facing the same challenges as we are in the United States, so sourcing these products in a high-demand, global marketplace has not been possible for many of our customers. Our operations teams have leveraged their deep understanding of supply chain and their connections in the global economy to find these products and get them quickly into the hands of our customers. We are staying up-to-date on the latest guidelines to ensure that these products qualify for the EUA or meet infection control recommendations5.

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We have established standard alert products to align with customer risk communication protocols. With these new protocols, patients who are exhibiting symptoms are asked to call and complete a COVID questionnaire over the phone before going to the hospital. All patients and visitors are required to undergo a COVID screening upon check-in, often including temperature checks. At many facilities, entrances are restricted to a single patient/visitor entrance and a single staff entrance, where staff are undergoing similar screening protocols. If a patient, visitor, or staff member screens positive as a risk during the COVID screening, protocols are in place to assess exposure for all employees, to isolate and test that person, and to communicate any potential risks. Some of the common ways in which these risks are being communicated include:

  • Color-coded wristbands for visitor and patient screening
  • Visitor sticker badges and color-coded labels for staff badges
  • Signs and decals to identify quarantine and isolation rooms
  • Lab labels for COVID-19 specimen testing that comply with CDC labeling requirements6

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Whether your challenge is sourcing PPE products, finding off-the-shelf communication solutions, or something else entirely, if PlatinumCode can help, we will. Just call us at 952-890-7100 and our teams are ready to support you!