We have a lot of patients in the health care industry. Here are some tips for you, especially if you are pregnant. We are finally starting to get some national guidance on how to protect our health care workers, however, most national organizations are still very vague and therefore large organizations, such as hospitals are as well.
These are my current tips, we can provide you with a note to recommend these to your employers if you would like.
#1 Anyone involved in direct patient care should wear at minimum surgical mask and gloves (I also recommend hair cover and eye shield).
#2 Anyone involved in any aerosolizing procedures (listed below) should wear an N95 mask covered with a surgical mask, hair cover, eye shield, and gown or a CAPR or PAPR.
What is an aerosolizing procedure?
Any procedure that causes coughing which generates aerosols or droplets in the air such as:
Non-invasive ventilation (e.g., BiPAP, BPAP)
and I would also include any operating personnel involved in procedures in which patient is intubated, vaginal deliveries, nebulization, and chest physiotherapy.
#4 If you are a health care worker and feel you might have been exposed or have symptoms, contact the public health department, there is expedited testing for health care providers at 714-834-8180.
Hoag's patient information hotline is 949-764-3000
#5 There are some guidelines on reusing masks, which we probably should all do as much as possible. Since we think the virus lives up to 3 days on surfaces, I think the easiest thing is to have 4 masks and reuse every 4 days, most other sources say UV is a potential option or hanging them in a oven > 70 degrees for 30 minutes. Full disclaimer, these are not in the guidelines by the CDC. Obviously if visibly soiled or wet they should not be reused.
#6 As much as possible if you are able, please transfer to telemedicine! Especially if you are pregnant. Hoag has started using iPads for patients to limit exposure of health care staff, this is a great innovation and I am so happy they are instituting new policies to protect all my wonderful patients in the hospital.
Lastly, if you are reading this and you have masks or are saving masks for your own protection please consider donating them to your local doctor/ health care facility who is still open and serving patients. Experian, my husband's employer, donated 12,000 N95 masks to Hoag Medical Group which is really amazing!