For healthcare organizations who have been forced to temporarily close due to the public health crisis, a quick return to work is a matter of survival—for both business and your patients. However, in this industry it’s absolutely essential to take all possible steps to ensure a safe workplace for everybody. The good news is, being adaptable and following best practices will make a big difference.
Healthcare organizations returning to work are in a unique position. There is no question of their importance—there is an ever-growing backlog of procedures needing done, and many people’s livelihoods depend on these being able to be completed soon.
However, it’s understandable that employees and patients will be concerned about their health. How can COVID-19 be avoided in situations where social distancing won’t be possible? The answer is to put the right safeguards in place and to always follow correct procedures regarding protective equipment, testing and cleanliness.
Returning to Work: What to Consider
Every healthcare sector has specific industry guidelines to follow. In addition, all healthcare businesses can use this checklist as a guide to safety-first decision making. The checklist focuses on these areas:
- General Considerations
All healthcare organizations should coordinate with state and local public health officials to establish local risk levels regarding COVID-19. Then there’s the question of what care to prioritize. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommend prioritizing surgical/procedural care and high-complexity chronic disease management. Select preventative services may also be high-priority.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE will play a big part in all healthcare organization’s health and safety plans. It’s crucial to establish what PPE is required for different employees (and patients) in different environments: this means following CDC advice on when will surgical masks suffice and when respiratory protection is required. Just as importantly, there needs to be a plan for stocking, maintaining and replacing all PPE.
With highly specialized needs, supply management is likely to be very challenging for healthcare organizations. With many supply chains damaged and fierce competition for PPE, businesses will need to work hard to maintain sufficient equipment, medication and PPE (for both non-COVID and COVID cases).
- Workforce Availability
You’ll also want to plan strict guidelines for staff who show symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID-19. In these cases, will you have enough staff in reserve to call upon? And if you are dealing with patients who are suffering from COVID-19, will you be able to split up your workforce into those who work in ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ zones?
Most healthcare organizations will need to redesign their entire workspaces with the possibility of COVID-19 infection in mind. How will you separate ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ zones? And how can you ensure proper social distancing in all workspaces?
Healthcare organizations will have a prior sanitization plan in place, but does this need to be updated with COVID-19 in mind? For example, cleaning of equipment used to treat COVID-19 patients will need to be decontaminated following CDC guidelines.
- Testing Capacity
Successfully containing COVID-19 likely depends on enacting a comprehensive testing policy. Do you have the facilities in place to test and screen symptoms for all staff, patients and visitors?
Return to Work Checklist
To help SMB leaders in the healthcare industry, Paycor is sharing a Return to Work Checklist, so you can make sure you’re doing everything possible to keep your employees safe.