How Healthcare Facility Managers Prepare for Flu Season
Health facilities everywhere are gearing up for the upcoming flu season. It’s not surprising to hear that each year the flu affects between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S., which leaves many patients seeking medical care in a healthcare setting. Although healthcare facilities are considerably more sterile than public places, controlling the spread of the virus and keeping it from infecting personnel is still difficult.
Many facilities have adopted protocols and prevention strategies to help lower the transmission. Here are a three ways healthcare spaces can protect not only personnel but also limit the spread of infection.
Sterilize High Touch Areas
Influenza is a community-based infection: it travels through the air in droplets, which can be picked up from an object or surface and transferred to the eyes, nose, or mouth. To prevent the spread of the virus in health facilities, high touch areas like door handles, rails, and counter should be routinely cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized (C.D.S). This three-step process has been widely employed in the healthcare industry as a prevention method due to its effectiveness. Here are three reasons why C.D.S are so effective:
- Cleaning removes germs.
- Disinfecting kills germs.
- Sanitizing reduces the number of germs.
Use Protective Equipment
Creating a barrier between infected areas and personnel is essential for infection control. One way to create barriers is through protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, surgical masks, and other protective equipment. They are essential for healthcare workers during the flu season.
But, let’s not forget how vital custodians are in the fight against the flu, and their need for protective equipment. They are often at the forefront, cleaning high transmission areas, dirty surfaces, handling garbage, and performing other tasks that put them at high risk of contraction. Encouraging custodians to wear a protective mask, gloves, and to avoid touching their eye’s is a great way to equip them with the tools and knowledge to do their job safely.
The flu season can be a hectic time for the healthcare industry, what with the major holidays approaching, and patient traffic tending to spike. Losing a team member for a few days can feel devastating. However, having an employee come to work sick is not the answer.
According to the CDC, most people are generally contagious beginning one day before symptoms start and can remain contagious up to five to seven days after becoming sick. During these times, staff must limit contact with others. Otherwise, sick staff can set off a chain reaction, wherein one sick member can quickly spread the sickness to the entire team.
Whether your health facility is small like private practice or large like a hospital, the flu is bound to make an appearance in some shape or form. The best thing you can do to keep your team healthy is to develop guidelines and best practices while making sure staff members have what they need to protect themselves.