Importance of a Preparedness Plan
Protecting both healthcare providers as well as patients from potentially deadly viruses such as COVID-19 is essential, even if you do not currently have an influx of patients who are carrying the strain of the virus. In order to minimize and eliminate the risk of spreading the virus throughout your own hospital or medical care facility, it is important to create and implement an emergency preparedness plan.
Before you can implement a preparedness or an emergency plan for your own medical facility, it is important to first consider and assess your goals. The CDC has provided an in-depth hospital preparedness checklist that is not only optimal for hospitals alone, but also medical facilities and offices of any size. The most important goals to keep in mind when managing and preparing a medical facility for a potential incoming of a new virus or deadly bacteria include:
- Effectively identifying and quarantining individuals who are carrying the COVID-19 virus strain
- Preventing the spread of the virus strain throughout the entire medical facility
(including both staff and patients)
- Confine and care for a set number of patients without bombarding or overwhelming the facility’s own capabilities and staff Implementing a plan of action to help better provide for a larger number of individuals if a virus or outbreak occurs and begins to spread throughout the local community
- Safely and effectively care for and monitor doctors, nurses, and other staff members who may have been exposed or have already contracted the virus themselves while working in the facility
- Implement preparedness plans as well as communication plans to express new goals, tasks, and responsibilities among all staff and those involved in operating your facility at all times
The Importance of Training Your Staff
A trained medical staff is ready, prepared, and confident in the decisions they make when it comes to treating patients, even in high-stress situations, endemics, and even pandemic outbreaks. When the entire staff of a medical facility is properly trained, equipped, and capable, it is much easier to provide the following:
- Identify symptoms of the COVID-19 virus while also assessing patients who are exhibiting the symptoms of the virus and may have also been exposed to a potential carrier
- Isolate patients promptly to prevent additional spreading of the virus throughout the medical facility and to other patients
- Prevent the additional spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the facility with isolation, quarantining, and effective and accurate diagnostics in place
- Care for limited groups of patients while also having the ability to scale the number of patients treated and cared for in the facility
Manage and monitor staff and healthcare personal who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or may already be exhibiting symptoms of the virus
When your staff has been fully prepped on the viruses and potential risks at-hand, they are less likely to find themselves confused or unsure of the actions to take when a patient in need arrives. The more informed your staff remains regarding new outbreaks and virus strains, the easier it is to implement a plan of action that is suitable and effective for any medical facility you are running or operating.
Get Your Facility Ready
Emergency preparedness is an integral element of successful practice management and healthcare leadership, especially if you are in charge of overseeing a medical facility or ensuring the environment is safe and protected at all times. Proper healthcare leadership and practice management involves preparing your facility with the proper steps to prevent the infiltration and spread of potentially deadly virus strains such as COVID-19.
The most important elements involved in the process of implementing an emergency preparedness plan for a virus such as COVID-19 in a medical facility according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention include:
Get Your Facility Ready
Confirming patients, locations, and isolation rooms is an essential task when handling an outbreak of any size. Documentation, as well as the proper organization of patients, is imperative. A protocol may be implemented to better assess and identify the most at-risk patients in need of immediate care or even isolation.
Staff should always understand how to best handle patients and viruses with proper equipment, hygiene, and sterilization.
Movement and Transfer of Patients
A movement and transfer protocol of patients who have been diagnosed with a virus should also be put in place to minimize cross-contamination risks and the risk of exposing unsuspecting patients with the virus.
Hand hygiene must be a priority in all health and medical facilities, especially when you begin to experience an endemic or even a global outbreak or pandemic.
All of your facility should be cleaned regularly, and even more so in the midst of a virus outbreak. All environment personally should be fully trained and informed of the new virus outbreak and equipped with proper cleaning solutions and protective gear to minimize the risk of spreading the infection throughout the facility.
An ongoing monitoring plan of action should also be implemented by coordinating with other medical facilities in your area and also after assessing the current risk your facility and its patients pose to the outside world.
Preparing your medical facility’s staff for potential emergencies such as the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus is a way to gain peace of mind as the number of cases continues to grow. With a proper emergency preparedness plan in place, you can help your medical staff to better understand the situation at-hand without feeling overwhelmed or nervous about assisting patients.
Is your facility ready for COVID-19?
Assess your facility’s preparedness, take the test and find out if you are ready for COVID-19.
AB Med Healthcare Solutions, can help your facility to develop and implement a preparedness plan that is specific to your needs. Alleviate stress and fears while ensuring a safe working environment for your staff and a quality healthcare delivery for your community.
Are you looking for a way to better prepare your facility as well as the staff you employ for the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus? At AB Med Healthcare Solutions, we specialize in developing emergency preparedness solutions for both urban and rural medical and health facilities.
If you want to create a COVID-19 preparedness plan that is reassuring, accurate, and effective, contact AB Med today. Our experts are here to help!
The AB Med team is here for your facility and your community. We have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate through the challenges into a successful emergency plan.
At AB Med, accuracy is our highest priority, and everything we publish is up-to-date based on research and news at the time of release. However, due to the continually evolving nature of COVID-19, we are aware that available data changes quickly. The available data and recommendations may have changed since this article’s publication. Please check the CDC, WHO, and your local health department for the most current recommendations and news.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). What Is Viral Hepatitis? [online] CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm.
- Hospital Preparedness Checklist, 2020, CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/hcp-hospital-checklist.html
- Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and You, 2020, CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/hospital-preparedness-checklist.pdf
- Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019, 2020, CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
By: Erik McLaughlin MD, MPH and Aikaterini Papadopoulou, B.Arch