Putting A Stop To High Diabetes Rates Among Health Care Workers

Blocks that spell out the word diabetes with fruit and vegetables around it. Written by Lucy Peters

There is a significantly high risk of diabetes among health care workers, with numerous studies postulating three main reasons why: unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, and physical inactivity. Current times are indicative of the importance of maintaining optimal health in this sector, since diabetes can pose a risk for worse outcomes in viral and other infections. Doctors, nurses, and other professionals often face high levels of psychosocial strain, and can be called upon to complete long work shifts – all of which can also contribute to the adoption of unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as the consumption of an unhealthy diet and sedentarism. As stated in a study by M Belingheri and colleagues, the problem is exacerbated when health care workers have other conditions such as hypertension, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease, all of which can worsen outcomes for various diseases and conditions.

Diabetes And Work Performance

Embracing a healthy lifestyle and receiving early diagnosis for conditions like hypertension is vital for health care workers. Not only does diabetes post a risk of worse outcomes, but it also carries symptoms that can make work in a healthcare setting difficult. For instance, people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can have a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. The legs and feet are mostly affected, with symptoms including pain and numbness. Diabetic neuropathy actually affects up to 50% of people with diabetes, and when it is severe, it can interfere greatly with one’s ability to work and complete daily tasks.

Fighting Type 2 Diabetes Through A Healthy Diet

A study by O A Busari and colleagues shows that health care workers can have a significantly higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. In order to fight this tendency, a proactive approach that embraces a preventive lifestyle needs to be adopted. This should begin with the adoption of a Mediterranean-type diet, which comprises lean proteins, grains, healthy Omega-3 fats, and plenty of fiber from fruits and vegetables. Specific foods can help health workers achieve their goals. A study undertaken at the Chalmers Institute of Technology, for instance, has found that whole grains (be they rye, oats or wheat) have a vital role in preventing Type 2 diabetes. The researchers recommended switching white flour foods for wholegrain foods, and avoiding foods like red meat and coffee. Women should aim to consume around 70g of wholegrain foods, and men around 90g. These can be sourced from foods such as rye bread, oatmeal porridge, and crispbread.

Embracing An Active Lifestyle

A 2018 study undertaken at the University of Birmingham has shown that regular physical activity reduces the risk of diabetes. Walking, jogging and running are all linked to lower diabetes rates, but any cardiovascular workout can be equally beneficial. “About one fifth of the observed diabetes cases which developed could have been avoided if inactive individuals had engaged in World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of exercise,” said researchers. Despite this fact, research by H Blake and colleagues (Predictors of physical activity and barriers to exercise in nursing and medical students, Journal of Advanced Nursing), shows that health care professionals on the whole have low levels of physical activity, with barriers including a lack of time and inconvenient schedules. Health organizations should take this matter seriously, making key changes to schedules and encouraging involvement in fitness programs by workers.

Health care workers often fail to meet exercise requirements and consume a healthy diet, which ups their risk for diabetes. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension can worsen outcomes for workers with diabetes. A preventive stance should be taken to remove the main barriers to healthier lifestyles. These are simply a lack of time, and schedules that are unconducive to regular exercise.

 

 

7 reasons why healthcare professionals should achieve certification

CERTIFICATION CONCEPTWritten By Miranda Booher

Hypnosis. Legal case management. Grief counseling. Stress management. Meditation. Spiritual counseling. There are many different areas of specialization when it comes to the vast realms of the healthcare industry.

Some allied health professional jobs require specific certification and others do not. However, if you happen to work in one of those positions that do not require specialized certification, do you really need it? 

You are the only one who can make that decision for your career, but we are going to present you seven reasons why healthcare clinicians should achieve certification.

1. Gain advanced knowledge and skills in a healthcare sub-specialty

Physicians, nurses, and other allied healthcare professionals often get into the field because they have a passion or interest in a certain field of healthcare. Perhaps you are a nurse who has always been interested in the area of spirituality. Even if you are not currently practicing as a nurse in this field, you can increase your knowledge and skills to learn more just for curiosity’s sake, or to set yourself up for an opportunity to work in that specialty in the future. 

2.  Healthcare employers require certification more frequently

Healthcare facilities’, hospitals’, and other companies’ policies about continuing education requirements are constantly evolving. Some employers who never required a certification for their employees in the past have changed their practices and now make certification mandatory for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, there can also be laws made at the state level meant to keep the public safe that require allied health professionals to obtain and hold certain credentials. 

3. Advance or expand your healthcare practice

Maybe you are a physician who wants to expand your current general practice roster of patients. Perhaps you want to offer specialized services to a certain segment of the population. Certification opens up doors as a healthcare provider to expand your practice and services to meet a wider range of patients and treat specific conditions and ailments. 

4. Gain a competitive edge and increase your marketability

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons healthcare professionals obtain a certification is to increase their employability and gain a competitive edge in the industry. Having the certification itself does not guarantee job placement, however it can definitely give you an advantage when you apply for a job in the medical industry. Even if the particular job you are applying for does not require certification, having one related to the healthcare sub-specialty, i.e. intensive care unit (ICU), geriatrics, etc., shows your dedication and demonstrates your level of expertise.

5. Be viewed as a credentialed expert in your practice specialty

Certification in a certain area exerts yourself as an expert in the field. When you are nationally-recognized for the attainment of knowledge and skills by meeting specific predetermined criteria, it demonstrates your competency as an allied healthcare professional. This recognition may help you personally or professionally, it just depends on whether it means something to you to be viewed as an expert, or if you plan on taking that position to advance your healthcare career. It can also be a combination of both. You might also use this recognition to become a part of a professional group or network with other certified healthcare specialists that practice in your specialty.

6. Show employers you stay up-to-date

By its intrinsic nature, the medical field is an industry that is constantly changing. In fact, all of the changes that have been ushered in since the beginning of this pandemic are testament to this very fact. In order to stay on your toes, it’s important to keep up with all the changes the best you possibly can. Healthcare certification is the perfect way to do just that. Most certifications not only require the base of knowledge and skills to obtain the credential, but they also include a certain number of continuing education hours annually in order to renew it. This demonstrates to employers that you are a healthcare professional who cares about continuing education and keeping up with the best practices in the industry. If you were the employer, would you not prefer to hire someone who has proven expertise in the field?

7. It speaks to who you are as a clinician

Certification in healthcare is so much more than a piece of paper. It demonstrates who you are as a person and an allied healthcare professional. It shows that you are committed to the practice, your career, and to providing the very best patient care possible. Employers look for those qualities when they are considering hiring anyone in the healthcare industry. 

Want to learn more about healthcare certification?

The American Institute of Healthcare Professionals is committed to providing opportunities for clinicians to expand their skills and knowledge base to advance their career in healthcare. You can learn more about each of the different types of certifications they provide by clicking on one of the links below. 

 

How has COVID-19 changed the grieving process

Woman in mourning arranging flowers and candles on the gravestoneWritten By Miranda Booher

Many people have lost their lives to this pandemic which leaves behind many loved ones to mourn. These people who have died from COVID-19, often do so under sad and isolated circumstances.

How has COVID-19 changed the way people grieve the death of loved ones? Keep reading to learn what COVID-19 means for the grieving process and how technology is adapting to the changes.

Losing a loved one in a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic

Visitors to all hospitals and healthcare facilities have been greatly restricted due to COVID-19 in accordance with the recommendations that were set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

As such, since the start of this pandemic, people who end up dying in the hospital often find themselves dying alone. They tell their loved ones final goodbyes on the cellphones of busy nurses who barely have the time to be in the patients’ room making the phone calls possible. One nurse name Heather who works in the emergency room of a community hospital in Northwest, Ohio said:

¨I am helping patients in the emergency room talk to their loved ones on Facetime to tell them their goodbyes. It’s drastically different from how it worked pre-COVID-19. The worst part to me is that we are actually seeing very few cases of COVID-19 in the hospital setting, but they are taking extra precautions, which has prohibited guests of any kind from visiting. I fear that the mental health effects of the lockdown will be worst than those of the actual disease itself.¨

Every hospital and healthcare facility will vary a bit when it comes to the exact policies regarding visitation. However, it’s pretty universally accepted that if the patient is positive for COVID-19, then they are allowed to have no visitors at all. It’s also the case in vast the majority of hospitals that visitors of any kind are restricted or only allowed to visit in specific circumstances.

It’s hard not being able to say your goodbyes in person

A lot of people find solace and closure in the final conversations they are able to have with a loved one right before they die. The distancing and isolation circumstances, whether that is at home or hospital, make it harder for people to get that same kind of closure when their loved one is dying.

Nurses and doctors are the ones who hold the hands of strangers as they conduct virtual meetings with the family and friends of dying patients who are not able to visit their loved ones in person. Clinicians who are suddenly thrusted into these positions are left to carry burdens of stress and sadness, even though they may not have any training in grief counseling.

Healthcare professionals who are adequately trained in end-of-life care, such as hospice and palliative care teams, are feeling overstretched beyond their capacity at the moment because of the rising need. The shortage is compounded by the fact that hospice nurses are already in short supply, as it takes a special kind of person to work in this field of nursing.

Loved ones actually begin the grieving process by being present with the person who they know is going to soon die. Many people use this time period to resolve any issues or messy emotions, such as feelings of denial and guilt, which are common. People who have been robbed of these quality moments before the end of life may feel a lack of closure.

Funeral bans make it hard to gather in tribute for the deceased

Funerals are also banned. Small gatherings are illegal in many states. For more information on the restrictions on small gatherings and funerals, you can see this list of coronavirus restrictions in every state from AARP.

The ban on gatherings and funerals means that many of the rituals associated with this level of the grieving process are being missed, such as:

  • Watching the casket be lowered into the ground
  • Holding a wake or sitting shiva
  • Having people visit your home and share memories about the departed

All of these therapeutic steps are being bypassed, and because of COVID-19, people need to learn new ways to mourn from home.

Creative technology solutions for social distance mourning

New ways of connecting with the community when a loved one dies are beginning to emerge as a result of the situation. Heart in Diamond is a company who allows people to send in some cremated ashes or hair from a loved one, and have it turned into a diamond. Creative memorials such as this help people who missed a funeral or other memorial pay tribute to their loved one.

We grieve together as we move into the future

All of us are grieving as we make it through this pandemic. Even those of us who have not and will not lose a friend or family member, we still experience the grief of losses. Whether it’s the loss of a job, the predictability of life day to day, or even the toilet paper, we grieve the life we once knew and hoped to live. We must be kind to ourselves and to others and recognize where these feelings of depression, rage, anxiety, and hopelessness are coming from.

There is no crystal ball that can show you how your journey with grief is going to be, but perhaps some of these new digital solutions can help us deal with death during COVID-19 and share memories in a new way

 

 

Working From Home: Is It Possible For Healthcare Professionals? 

laptop with smart phone on wood tableWritten by Lucy Peters

More employees are working from home today than ever before — as many as 9.8 million Americans worked remotely in 2019 before the pandemic hit, Pew Research reveals. When it doesn’t compromise patient care, healthcare organizations can benefit from implementing work-from-home programs, which reduce staff burnout, improve care coordination, and boost patient revenue. Some healthcare roles can be successfully performed from home, however, healthcare organizations must take care to establish clear guidelines and provide the necessary equipment and technology.

Incorporating work-from-home programs

Telehealth is a relatively new service replacing in-person appointments; it allows healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients effectively via virtual appointments. Video chat software is all that’s required to facilitate telehealth. Physicians therefore only need to appear in-office for the most acute patients. Staff who support patients without dealing with them directly — in the fields of marketing, claims management, medical records management, and patient intake, for example — can also work from home efficiently. Healthcare organizations will generally find some tasks need to be performed in person while others more flexible can be done remotely. Most simply, this could mean sharing office spaces on set days to treat patients, while staff then work from home on the other days of the week.

Secure technology and HIPAA compliance

Remote workers must continue to be HIPAA compliant and protect the organization’s network, sensitive data, and electronic personal health information (ePHI). Workers who handle electronic health records will need to use VPNs (virtual private networks) to access them at home. Devices and apps should be encrypted and password protected (two-factor authentication provides maximum security). Additionally, any devices used to view ePHI should always have up-to-date security software installed. Cloud-based communication systems allow workers to collaborate remotely, however any systems used should be third-party certified for security standards (the HITRUST CSF certification is most widely used in the healthcare industry).

Injury and worker’s rights

Remote workers can still be prone to workplace injuries — slips, trips, and falls being some of the most common. Poor home-office setups can also increase risk of objects falling from shelves, burns from hot drinks, or ankle sprains from going up or down the stairs. In fact, healthcare organizations may ask employees to perform a risk evaluation of their home office space; this can be used to identify and eliminate potential issues that may cause injuries. Injuries sustained by remote workers are covered by workers’ compensation law as long as they occurred during completion of a work-related task during work hours. Healthcare professionals can strengthen their chances of receiving compensation if their employer specifically instructed them to work remotely and provided necessary equipment to perform their duties.

It’s possible for many healthcare professionals today to work from home while continuing to provide excellent patient care and service and adhere to industry regulations. Healthcare organizations should always provide workers with the equipment and technology needed to fulfil their roles safely and efficiently.

 

Healing The Healers: Different Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Manage Their Chronic Pain 

Tablet with the text Pain Management on the displayWritten By Lucy Peters

Around 30% of physicians experience chronic physical illness and pain, with 82% experiencing concomitant chronic mental concerns, according to a study of 248 physicians conducted by the University of Ottawa. As such, there needs to be some changes occurring in the field of medicine — especially when it comes to the concept of chronic pain management. So, to this end, what are a few different ways that healthcare professionals can manage chronic pain?

Chronic Pain-Specific Medication

A study conducted by the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine found that healthcare practitioners limit or avoid controlled pain medications due to their practice guidelines and regulations. Despite this, the discomfort that comes with chronic pain can become so debilitating that they achieve relief through chronic pain-specific medication that’s over the counter or prescribed, such as Oxycodone, Ibuprofen and Morphine. But for doctors who are not comfortable relying on medication, thankfully, there are other options to pursue.

Alternative Care

Chronic pain affects a substantial number of nurses. A study by Gaziantep University found that 84.2% of nurses experience chronic lower back pain of moderate severity. Instead of using any medication, they have found that turning to alternative care like chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture provide relief. Those that undergo chiropractic adjustments reported in a JAMA Open Network’s published study that after six sessions, they have less pain intensity, higher satisfaction in their care, less disability, and more mobility.

Physical Therapy And Exercise

Medical professionals are constantly in motion, and chronic pain hinders this. The pain may also cause a lack of physical activity that opens the gates to other health issues. As such, physical activity is necessary. Aerobic exercises are an effective way to treat chronic pain, according to a study conducted by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center. They found that walking or stationary cycling are moderate impact activities that relieve pain.

Psychiatric Support

Chronic pain is an emotional and mental battle, according to Linda Girgis, MD. She shared her story of being a practicing doctor that got into an accident that left her with a displaced, comminuted proximal humerus fracture. This event effectively made her a chronic pain patient for the rest of her natural life. She soon realized that chronic pain takes a rather strong emotional and mental toll, as the pain made her normal activities no longer possible, and her patients did not care about her pain — only the inconvenience her condition had caused them.

This is precisely why the study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry of George Washington University found that psychological interventions for chronic pain are necessary. Psychiatric support for medical professionals that suffer from chronic pain can help them recalibrate their perspectives and process their pain in a safe and healthy environment.

Living with chronic pain can feel like a continuous battle—especially for the very professionals that are tasked with looking after the health of others. This is why there need to be further studies on managing pain and improving the way the topic of chronic pain in healthcare professionals is addressed. As soon as there is an established way to fully heal the healers from their chronic pain, the better the field of healthcare will be as a whole.

 

What are the Biggest Data Security Risks in the Healthcare Industry?

Padlock and keyhole in a printed circuit. Digital illustration.Written By Lucy Peters

The current global health crisis is doing more than wreaking physical havoc; it is also affecting data security, exposing potentially sensitive patient data and putting the efficient functioning of healthcare organizations at risk. In some parts of the world, there has been a 150% increase in cyber attacks in recent months, with the stress of the pandemic causing many organizations to lose sight of cyber security at a time in which it is most under threat from new advancements in AI and other technologies that make attacks swifter and wider in scope. What are the main threats to data security in the healthcare sector and what steps can be taken to reduce them?

Phishing Attacks

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, many organizations – including the Oregon Department of Human (ODHS) Services – fell prey to phishing attacks. Indeed, the latter suffered a breach affecting some 645,000 patients, compromising over two million emails after just nine employees responded to a phishing email. In order to counter this threat, organizations need to rely on technology such as multi-factor authentication to prevent malicious emails from making it to employees’ inboxes. Employee training is equally important in preventing cyber attacks; in some organizations, simulated phishing software is being used to train and test employees’ abilities to respond to such a threat. Investing in training is a highly efficient way to combat a problem that is costing companies hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

Insider Breaches

Research by Egress has found that about 63% of healthcare data breaches are caused by human error, while around 20% are caused by sending information to the wrong recipient. The famous UW Medicine breach (which exposed the data of around 947,000 patients) was caused by a misconfigured server that made private documents accessible to the public. Healthcare organizations should set up identity access management rules to be followed strictly by staff. They should also implement controls covering the printing of sensitive documents. New content aware print management tech tracks information on who printed a document, where it was printed, and the contents of a document. This can boost compliance and minimize security breaches.

Cloud Security

Research by MarketsandMarkets indicates that the cloud model is increasingly appealing for healthcare decision makers, as most organizations need solutions to deal with an exponential growth of patient data. The benefits of the cloud are indubitable, yet alongside them comes a host of new threats — including malware and ransom attacks. Solutions to the problem include performing regular backups (these should be stored offline or in a separate network from the main one), encryption, and the conduction of a full cyber risk assessment on all third party vendors and contractors.

The healthcare industry is increasingly relying on digital sources for the storing of sensitive data. Some of the main threats it faces include phishing, insider breaches, and cloud security issues. These can be tackled both through education of personnel and through the adoption of effective solutions such as efficient IT management services, a regular backup system, encryption, and the reliance on a professional IT team that is on the beat when it comes to new developments in cybersecurity threats – including AI-based threats.

 

Encouraging Isolated Patients to Spend Time Outdoors

Woman Walking Along Path In Autumn WoodlandWritten By Lucy Peters

The average American is believed to spend nearly 90% of their life indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This equates to being outdoors for a total of one half of one day per week.  Patients who are in isolation due to being immunocompromised or testing positive for a contagious disease may spend even less time outdoors. This can result in increased anxiety, a compromised circadian rhythm, and even an increasingly suppressed immune system. Thankfully, there are a number of ways in which a healthcare professional can help an isolated patient spend time outdoors.

Highlight the benefits of spending time outside

A patient is more likely to make an effort to spend time outside if they are aware of the benefits they may enjoy. There are a number of science-backed benefits that can be highlighted. Spending time outside can reduce cortisol levels which will boost your overall mood according to a Japanese nature therapy study. Spending time outdoors can also help accelerate healing according to the University of Pittsburgh while a Harvard Medical School publication concurs that outdoor time will boost Vitamin D levels significantly. Spending time outdoors can also aid in reducing the mental fatigue that often presents itself during periods of illness.

Suggest simple yet beneficial outdoor activities

Although structured outdoor therapy sessions may yield impressive results, it is not always a viable option. Healthcare professionals are in a good position to suggest simple yet beneficial ways that will increase the time an isolated patient spends outdoors. Going for a walk, even if just around the garden, will yield benefits both associated with being outside as well as physical activity. Patients can also be encouraged to conduct a range of everyday activities, such as reading and catching up on social media, outside. While a deck or porch is ideal places for these, finding a sunny spot near an open window will also suffice.

What if going outdoors isn’t an option?

For some isolated patients, going outside isn’t an option due to a variety of reasons. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, simply viewing natural settings can boost physiological well-being considerably. These findings can be supported in a number of ways. By encouraging patients to open windows to allow fresh air in, placing indoor plants or cut flowers in the home, or looking out into the garden, they may become privy to benefits typically associated with outdoor time.  Apart from noticing a reduction in anxiety and stress, cognitive function may also be improved.

Spending time outdoors is of pertinent importance to isolated patients. Although different strategies may need to be employed for each, there are many ways these patients can be exposed to the outdoors and reap the subsequent benefits.

 

Challenges Facing New Nurses during the COVID-19 Crisis

Doctor examining a little girl with a stethoscope at home.

Written By Lucy Peters

If you are new to nursing and you have recently started working at a hospital or health center, then without a doubt you have thought about what a big challenge the start of your working life will be. A recent survey by the American Nurses Association of 32,000 nurses showed that a vast majority (87%) of nurses are afraid of going to work and 36% have had to care for COVID-19 patients without adequate PPE. What are the biggest challenges facing new nurses, and what steps can be taken to ensure they stay safe during COVID-19 and future pandemics?

A Need for Greater Preparedness

As stated by Forbes, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of integrating more public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) content into nursing curricula. Previous crises had already highlighted the need for training in this area, but previous attacks (such as the 2001 Anthrax attack) were more short-lived and did not affect either the health system or the global economy to the extent that COVID-19 is. Offering post-graduate emergency preparedness and conducting emergency drills can help nurses be more prepared for public health emergencies.

Better PPE Provisions

In late May, a survey conducted by the National Nurses United (NNU) found that a majority of respondents said they were having to reuse protective equipment meant for single use. One third also said that their employer expected them to rely on their personal sick leave, vacation days, or paid time off if they were to become infected with the virus. A separate study released by the California Nurses Association also showed high PPE reuse rates. Clearly, the need for reliable protective equipment is an issue affecting new as well as more experienced nurses. Other protective measures that should be adopted include creating separate treatment zones for persons attending emergency due to COVID-like symptoms and having strict isolation plans for infected patients.

Increased Pay Opportunities

Nurse.org reports that some high-need areas are offering sign-on bonuses for nurses. Learning institutions are also making it easier for people to enter the profession — for instance, by offering nursing qualifications in one year to those who have a Bachelor’s degree in another field. Accelerated programs appeal to millennials studying medicine since many are concerned about college debt and/or the amount of time required to complete standard college degrees. Younger students are keen on newer approaches to medicine (including telemedicine) and they are meaning-driven rather than salary-driven. However, many are already shouldering debt from former college courses, meaning that searching out better pay has become a necessary priority for many.

The Benefits of Starting Nursing during the Pandemic

Despite all the challenges, some nurses who have started in the profession during the pandemic have reported a great sense of achievement and joy at making a positive difference to the lives of so many. Working at a time in which staff shortages and long working hours have become the norm in many hospitals also puts their skills and commitment to the test. Even seasoned nurses have reported feeling overwhelmed at times yet they have also reported a great sense of achievement as they observe patients heal and obtain their release from the hospital.

Nurses who have just graduated or who are completing accelerated programs to start working during the pandemic have many challenges ahead. Although some states seem to have passed the worst of the pandemic, others are still struggling with issues such as PPEs and long working hours. Nurses are here to heal, but not to be martyrs because of a lack of equipment and safety measures. Without a doubt, COVID-19 has only highlighted the importance of preparing health teams for future health crises of a grand scale.

 

Revamping The Old: Cleaning And Sanitation In “The New Normal” Of Healthcare

hospital bed

Written By Lucy Peters

Nearly 600 healthcare workers in the US have died from COVID-19, according to Lost on The Frontline. The study, conducted by the Guardian and Kaiser Health News, includes doctors, nurses, paramedics and other essential hospital staff like cleaning crews, administrators and special care caregivers. The pandemic has certainly made an impact on travel and how people live their daily lives. Another thing it will have a lasting impact upon is the concept of cleanliness in healthcare.

Hospital Cleaning Staff Gear

It is generally thought that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary to keep doctors, nurses and paramedics safe from COVID-19. However, it is now clear that it is no longer sufficient to keep a hospital in working order. Hospital cleaners who enter the premises must also have additional gear like an FFP2 mask, gloves, gown, face shields, and secure working boots, according to a study published by the Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences.

As cleaning crews often pass through different rooms and halls of hospitals, they must be duly protected from the transmission to enable them to keep rooms and areas sanitized. Beyond safety gear, their cleaning tools must have validated removal ratings that are certified from third-party laboratories. This is to ensure that their cleaning tools are actually doing their job rather than unknowingly spreading the virus around the hospital.

The Necessity Of Professional Sanitation Services

While hospitals do have their own sanitation staff, they may not be enough to ensure complete disinfection of surfaces, walls, hallways and bedding. There may simply be too much to do for regular cleaning crews to take on the load. As such, the presence and necessity of professional cleaning crews will increase in the immediate future. Professional crews possess heavy-duty cleaning equipment like steam machines that are 99.99% effective in removing germs and bacteria over a wide array of surfaces. The study, conducted by Michael Cazaban and others, established that a steam vapor system significantly eradicates S. capitis and other organisms from sensitive hospital areas.

Additional Cleanliness Protocols For Healthcare Workers

Gone are the days when healthcare professionals could simply perform hand-washing, take off any infectious gloves, and head on home. Now, it is advisable that healthcare professionals take spare clothing to wear separately and keep any work clothes and shoes in a separate plastic container, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. They found that excessive use of harder chemicals to wash clothes or bedding is unnecessary. Regular detergent is fine – as long as the laundry is done immediately prior to coming into any contact with any family members. The habit of wiping down surfaces of any vehicles used to go home with sanitation wipes must also be normalized.

This pandemic is effectively ushering new health protocols and stringent cleanliness requirements that will remain in place for the foreseeable future. While they may seem excessive, they are critical to maintaining the integrity and safety of healthcare workers everywhere. After all, it is they that are in the front lines fighting a virus that continues to threaten the human population.

 

 

How Will Travel Change for Healthcare Professionals in the Near Future?

air plane wing over a landscape

Written By Lucy Peters

Despite still-rising rates of COVID-19 in some parts of the world, airports across the globe are already reopening as part of lockdown easing restrictions. The U.S. Travel Association has already outlined what travel will look like for people in the near future. Their report, Travel in the New Normal, indicates that health care professionals completing residencies abroad, attending key medical conferences, or applying for jobs interstate or overseas will be able to do so safely. The report covers many parts of the travel ecosystem that doctors, nurses, and other passengers will have to negotiate when opting to travel during the era of ‘new normality.’

Newly Designed Public Spaces and Airports

Until the COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured and received on a wide-scale basis, traveling healthcare workers can get used to new designs in airports. Thus, sanitation stands with antibacterial gel, physical barriers such as transparent screens in areas where customer attendants are dealing with people, automated entrance, and contactless check-ins will be prevalent. Payments via mobile, contactless ticketing and identification, and automated ordering and pick up for food and services during travel may also grow in importance. Because healthcare workers have a higher risk of exposure to the virus, it will be vital to follow physical distancing and PPE use seriously — both for the health worker’s health and those of passengers flying in close contact with them.

Training for Employees

The U.S. Travel Association recommends that healthcare and other workers who will be traveling frequently invest in training for employees regarding implementing safety measures. Resources can and should also ideally be provided to families traveling during the health crisis, since health workers completing a residency or stint of work abroad or interstate will most likely be bringing families unless they normally live alone. Resources should be provided regarding currently unsafe places to travel. This way, families can avoid flight routes that go through high-risk areas. Supplemental health travel coverage for family members may also be helpful if medical assistance is needed while you are abroad or in another state. Health workers should additionally be fully informed of the respective risks of different modes of travel.

Health Screening and Immunity Passports

One of the most frequently reported trends in travel involves the use of ‘immunity passports’ indicating that the travel has already recovered the COVID-19 virus. The arrival of the highly awaited vaccine may also herald a new era in which travelers will only be permitted access to planes or other means of transport if they have already been vaccinated. The extent to which immunity passports are feasible remains to be seen. At this point in time, airports, trains, subways and other public spaces are simply redesigning spaces, conducting temperature checks in some cases, and/or asking travelers to walk through sanitizing ‘spray tunnels’ that emit a sanitizing mist.

The nature of travel is already changing at a fast pace. From the use of methacrylate separators in customer service areas to new regulations with respect to serving food, many measures are being adopted by airports, food service companies, and other services related to the industry. Until the arrival of the vaccine, the requirement of ‘immunity passport’s remains a possibility. In order to keep healthcare workers and their families safe, employees should provide quality training regarding destinations and safety measures, and provide advice on the safest way to fly or travel on wheels.