The news is focused on COVID-19 so as we wrap up Patient Safety Awareness Week, we will look at some actions to prevent the spread of respiratory germs in your community.

Support hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as cough etiquette by residents, visitors, and employees.  Put alcohol-based hand rub in every resident room (ideally both inside and outside of the room).  Make sure tissues are available and any sink is well-stocked with soap and paper towels for hand washing.

Strive to keep residents and employees informed. Describe what actions the community is taking to protect them, including answering their questions and explaining what they can do to protect themselves and other residents.

It appears that the population of patients at greatest risk for complications from this virus is the primary population that we at Functional Pathways serve.  Our elderly patients with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk, this should drive our primary focus to center around patient safety initiatives.

  • Reinforce the Hand Hygiene Policy. This cannot be emphasized enough.
  • Adhere to diligent equipment cleaning, after every patient use. equipment should be wiped down using manufacturer recommendations. Have disinfectant wipes on hand to use on other equipment such as gait belts, stethoscopes, clipboards, door handles, wheelchair handles, ink pens.  When wiping down items, leave no surface untouched.  Think about all surfaces that hands touch in your departments, cell phones, telephones, keyboards, laptops, iPads.  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Promote personal health practices such as coughing or sneezing into inside of your elbow. Avoid touching your face. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are portals for viruses. When you use a tissue, throw it away immediately and wash your hands.  If you are sick with a respiratory infection and running a fever, do not come to work.
  • If you use a kitchen during therapy, in order to be in compliance with the department of health regulations, any dishes or cooking utensils for patient use must be sent to the community’s kitchen for a sanitizing clean.
  • General housekeeping to ensure the gym is tidy will help support infection control measures.

While these measures are good to use in time of increased awareness, it is more important to make these standard infection prevention activities routine practice and hard wire into your daily practices.  State Survey practices will be focused on Infection Prevention and Emergency Preparedness.  Using these standard precautions routinely will help prevent spread of viruses in communities throughout the year, not just during a time of crisis.