The worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus has enforced all aspects of the workforce to re-think their daily habits. Ensuring the safety of healthcare workers (HCW) such as pharmacists or physiotherapist during a pandemic is of utmost importance. There’s a reason that in-flight safety, instructors always tell us to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting fellow passengers. We can’t help others effectively unless we adequately protect ourselves first.
HCPs, such as pharmacists are one of the first lines of contact during a pandemic. As a result of this, it’s important for them to take precautions to avoid vulnerability. Just like during the Ebola outbreak of 2014, the doctors and community health workers faced the human impact of the disastrous outcome of the pandemic infection.
As we navigate into working out the new normal, we have created key safety measures to take as a healthcare professional. Share this with your colleagues, be it other members of the healthcare sector or people within your own practice.
Choose Appropriate Clothing
As a healthcare worker while it is essential that you appear professional to your patients. However, at this unprecedented time, you should re-consider certain wardrobe items. This includes Ties/neck scarfs, bracelets, watches or any accessories that may impede good handwashing practices. Wash your clothing as soon as you get home. WHO recommends washing clothes at a temperature of at least 60 degrees Celsius. Items which are not practical to wash after one wear or that needs to be washed at lower temperature should be avoided at these times. Assess your wardrobes for professional and comfortable clothes to work that can be cleaned easily.
Bring Your Own Device for Your Safety
BYOD became a common lingo, especially in the TECH world, where workers are expected to bring in their own laptops or use their mobile phones to use on a secure corporate network. Similarly, as much as practically possible, take your own work device with you. Items such as pens, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipe and flask for your tea/coffee. In a pharmacy environment, ask patients to use their own pen to sign as a prescription, where possible. This is to prevent cross-contamination amongst patients. Minimize risks of exposure by wiping items such as keyboards or phones with alcohol wipes.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene for Your Safety
Hand hygiene is a major component of standard precautions. It is one of the most effective methods to prevent transmission of pathogens associated with health care. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds from time to time. Avoid touching the face and wear personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks if need be. Take precautions when touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, grocery carts as they carry a lot of pathogens. Most importantly avoid handshakes.
Respiratory Hygiene and Cough Etiquette
Healthcare professionals should ensure persons with respiratory symptoms apply source control measures. Patients, staff, and visitors should cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. They should bin used tissue and wash their hands for at least 20seconds or sing the happy birthday song twice.
Practice Social Distancing For Your Safety
Ensure there is a physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 Metres) of space between you and anyone around you. As COVID-19 infection is asymptomatic for up to 14 days, it is not always obvious who is contagious. Avoid unnecessary crowds and adhere to safety measures as recommended by the UK Government accessible here.
Healthy eating helps to maintain a healthy weight, increases energy and reduces our risk of developing cardiovascular disease. By eating healthily, you’ll be on your way to getting the nutrients your body needs to boost your immunity. Monitor your daily intake of fruit and vegetable. Be conscious of the proportion of carb-based, fat-based and vegetable portions of your meal over an average of 4 days. Keeping a food diary helps to give a birds-eye view of your eating habits and practical changes that can be implemented.
Get More Sleep
A lack of sleep at night can make you cranky the next day. Skimping on sleep can mess up more than just your morning mood. Studies have shown that quality sleep on a regular basis can help improve a number of health conditions, including maintaining normal blood pressure levels. A good night’s sleep also keeps your mind alert; This is particularly crucial as you make thousands of important decisions with your patients on a daily basis.
Just like a healthy diet, exercise contributes to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. Some studies show that “moderate-intensity” exercise significantly reduces cold/flu type respiratory infections. The Practical activity includes a 20 to 30-minute walk daily, going to the gym every other day or online Yoga classes increases your fitness level.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Water helps to flush toxins out of the body. As a result of this, It is important for an adult to drink at least 1.5 liters of fluid a day. Keep a bottle with you in the dispensary, consultation room or offices as appropriate, at work. Options include mineral water, sparkling or non-sparkling, plain or flavored. Fruit juices, tea, soft drinks, milk, are also practical options which may be available to you.
Lastly, stay safe and stay healthy.