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HCL News - Information on COVID-19

HCL News - Information on COVID-19

In light of concerns that have arisen over how home care and hospice providers should respond to the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are providing your Agency with some suggestions for effectively navigating this continuously evolving situation.

Most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus, so please do not panic. While it is important to update and adhere to best practices regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, it is critical to stay informed of the most recent updates and provide accurate and consistent information to your staff and patients/clients reflecting the guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Check the State Health Department, CDC, and OSHA websites daily to stay current on the latest guidelines and updates.

Following is a list of HealthCare ConsultLink Policies and documents you can use for information, guidance and tools to prepare for the potential influx of patients/clients:

   
Hand Hygiene policy Reflects CDC guidelines on hand-washing, using alcohol based gels
   
Cleaning and Management of Supplies and Equipment policy Guidance on cleaning equipment and supplies
   
Infection Control Program policy Guidance on identifying, tracking and reporting all infections. This policy also includes a plan for an influx of infectious patients/clients with recommendations on assessing agency capabilities, emergency planning and response and strategies.
   
Exposure Control policy Standard precautions and transmission-based precautions are explained
   
Emergency Preparedness Plan and Policy The All Hazards Community/Agency Based Risk Assessment for Potential Disasters includes a section for documentation of a pandemic or epidemic; write COVID-19 in under “Other” and complete the risk assessment based on risks identified by the local or state health department
   
  Review the emergency preparedness plan with staff
   
  Complete the Continuity of Operation Business Plan
   
  Use the Emergency Preparedness Plan And Procedure Checklist to ensure you cover all the appropriate activities
   
  Consider strategies for managing if large numbers of referrals are received or if large numbers of staff are sick or home with sick family members
   
  Test your communication plan
   
  Provide training for staff, develop educational materials for patients/clients, their families and caregivers-use current information from reliable sources such as CDC, WHO, and State health departments
   
  Document any review, teaching, training, or drills that you do
   
Useful websites:

In all states, look up the state health department division responsible for providing updated COVID-19 information.

Please be sure an individual in your organization is responsible for receiving and sharing updates from your state or local health department.

Tell your caregivers and patients/clients that you are carefully monitoring the outbreak and proceeding with all employees’ and patients’/clients’ best interests in mind.

Do not allow caregivers who have treated patients/clients diagnosed with COVID-19 to care for other patients/clients who do not have such a diagnosis. Consider either training a group of caregivers to be designated as responsible for caring for any COVID-19 patients/clients or consider restricting services if anyone in a patient’s/client’s household is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Remind all staff about covering their coughs and sneezes with a tissue and washing their hands (hand-hygiene per your infection control and hand-hygiene policies) often as well as cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects (includes laptops carried in and out of the home, stethoscopes and BP cuffs).

Ensure employees have access to the necessary protection, eliminating any possibility for cross-contamination – especially if employees are traveling between a series of patients/clients. This may require changing PPE, including clothing, that may have become soiled by a previous client.

Retrain your caregivers on proper use of PPE.

Educate your caregivers and patients/clients on how COVID-19 spreads, and to notify you if they are feeling sick or showing any symptoms of COVID-19. Encourage sick employees (regardless of whether diagnosed with COVID-19) to stay home.

Implement consistent protocols related to an employee’s reentry to the workplace in terms of obtaining a release clearing the employee to return to work and ensuring that the employee does not pose a risk to the health and safety of themselves or others.

Do not identify or disclose to other employees the reason that an employee, who is working from home or unable to work preventively, is not at work.

Any documents about, or communications with, employees about their medical conditions should be kept in a secure and confidential location separate from the employee’s personnel file (usually in a medical file).

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