The Take Away – Creating New Post COVID-19 Habits

Hosted by
Rene Lumene

Reflecting on what we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and what physician practices should do to protect their staff and patients

The number of Coronavirus cases worldwide actually is at 3.5 million. When I look at the data from worldometer. The US is at 1.1 millions of total cases right now. And what’s interesting enough is that, since this whole situation has occurred, we have around 68,173 deaths. We had 177k thousand people who actually recovered from this Corona virus.

It was good to see that more people are recovering versus those who have passed away. However, we still have some long ways to go as, we mentioned before with the summer coming up, we know based on what the data is showing us, that the numbers are going down.

As we approach the Summer, temperature will continue to drop, and it is expected to see less cases of COVID-19. People are practicing social distancing and, and the numbers will just continue to trend down. Just looking at the data we are at 323 total cases in the US and here in New York just around 280 new death.

You know, as I look across the country, the numbers are continuing to go down majority of the states, but then you do have certain areas where the numbers are just steadily climbing up a little bit. With that being said, you know, it’s really about being mindful and practicing the things that we have learned throughout this pandemic.

Practicing social distancing, hand hygiene and of course wearing facemasks is always encouraging. I was just reading an article a couple of days ago, which I’m sure you’ve heard of about, Whole Foods decided to

give masks to all of their customers, making sure that as they entered the store, they are protected. They were tracking the volume of customers in the store at all times ensuring customers can safely shop while practicing social distancing.

The employees at Whole Foods are required to wear face masks to cover up and limit their exposure. I think we’ll see a lot of that where they’ll be some kind of creative ways where now that the masks are available again, retail companies are going to look for ways to fill that gap where they can’t control exactly what happens and there they can, they can make sure they are able to reduce the number of cases or exposure in their stores so they don’t become a headline.

I think that’s the aim for most of them. They’re just not wanting to be the breeding ground right now. I think between offering protective personal equipment, maintaining cleanliness, reducing store hours will help to minimize exposure

I was at target just this morning and they have team members that are cleaning after every time that you touch anything, including the credit card machines. This level of disinfecting and cleaning is probably going to be norm for many brick and mortar businesses. 

When you think about it, this virus is not that far off from the Flu. However, it does have a more severe outcome due to our bodies not being immune to it. The world will forever change from the standpoint of our behaviors and being more conscious of proper hand hygiene. 

You mentioned about practicing proper hygiene, and there was a situation not too long ago, and I couldn’t believe this, right? So, we all know this coronavirus thing is a beast. By people touching their face or shaking each other hand, the risk in contracting the virus is high.

A couple of weeks ago, here I am going to the bathroom. After I get done using it, I walk to the sink to wash my hands. Just as I approached the sink, another guy walks up to the bathroom stall and use it. By the time I was done washing my hands for about 20 seconds under warm water, the guy zipped up his pants and proceeded to walk out. Here I am thinking to myself, “I know he did not just do what I think he just did?”.

We are dealing with coronavirus and this guy had total disregard for himself and others in that moment. I had to call him and say, “What are you doing? you do realize we are dealing with a virus that can easily spread and by not washing your hands, it does no one justice”. He washed his hand, but I was in shocked that he was not mindful at all. 

You want to make sure that people are doing what they are supposed to do. I am more mindful about washing my hands and sanitizing them more than ever before, because of this whole situation we are in.

Now, every time I shake somebody’s hand, I’m constantly thinking, Did they just walk out of the bathroom after zipping their pants up and not wash their hand?

With fear of getting this virus and everything else going on, it’s drilled in our heads about this constantly practice proper hygiene to minimize our risk of exposure.

It’s like having that moment where you shake someone’s hand and then you notice their nose is a little red. You can’t help to think maybe did they just get done digging in their nose and just shook my hand? When you start thinking about that, your mind goes into so many different ideas and you don’t know what people are really doing.

I think people really owe it to each other to wash and sanitize your hands, because these things are available to them. We have to take advantage of it because it keeps everyone safe. Everybody is better off that way. 

So, let’s switch to a different topic. Let’s talk about physician practices, right? Because we know that physicians who are experiencing the brunt of the negative impact this virus has caused to their business. What can physician practices do to protect their patients and staff?

Provider practice should implement a COVID-19 policy and procedure on what to do when dealing with patients during this pandemic. Ideally, every practice should designate an isolation room just in case a patient who shows up and is showing signs and symptoms of coronavirus can immediately be placed in that room.

I would expect practice to set up a hygiene station consisting of face masks, a bottle of sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Staff should have prepared questions to ask patient if they have come in contact with someone diagnosed with the virus and whether they have experienced any signs and symptoms. 

I would like to also make a point that it is crucial that staff can properly observe patients to see how they look and feel. Sometimes, patients may be a bit embarrassed to tell a staff member that they are experiencing signs and symptoms. Even if the patient may so no to the questions, but shows indication of not feeling well, the staff should be able to place the patient in isolation until a provider can see the patient. 

Constant washing of the hands by staff and providers should be something that occurs frequently throughout the working day. Staff should have disinfectant wipes to clean their desk, computer and any other high frequency of touching areas to mitigate risk. At the end of the workday, the practice should have a janitorial company that is trained on disinfecting this virus to ensure safety for everyone who will be occupying the space.

Something to think about is the patient waiting room. Often times, there are magazines and people tend to lick their thumb when flipping pages. Magazines often pass through many hands and germs can easily be passed on from one person to the next. I would highly recommend removing them from the patient waiting room and ensure the television is on as a form of entertainment for the patient while they wait to be seen.

Before coming to New York, whenever I would go to the stores to get food for the house, I would see people wearing gloves. In their mind, wearing gloves will protect them from coming in contact with the virus. However, I do not think they are aware that they are making the situation worse.

Think about it, when a person with glove is touch things that might be dirty, they are touching other things in the store putting other people at risk who are not wearing gloves. It is easier to just sanitize your hand and not touch your face before or after shopping. 

Furthermore, the key take aways to remember on how to protect yourself and others are:

  • Wear a face mask when going out in public or going to be around other people
  • Wash your hand with soap or sanitizer
  • Practice social distancing, at least 6 ft apart
  • When in doubt STAY HOME!
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