The COVID-19 Pandemic and Healthcare Industry: How It Affects Us All

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Healthcare Industry: How It Affects Us All

a blog by My Emergency Room Abilene

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Healthcare Industry: How It Affects Us All

The recent outbreak of the Influenza A virus, subtype H1N1, more commonly known as “the pandemic flu” in the media and as “COVID-19” by medical professionals, has raised awareness about pandemic flu preparedness.

The strain of influenza virus that is currently spreading is new to humans, which means it likely came from an animal reservoir.

In response to this pandemic threat, organizations have initiated emergency measures and precautions to limit the spread of infection in their communities and workplaces. All industries are now taking precautionary measures against contracting or transmitting COVID-19 flu viruses. Healthcare facilities have refocused their pandemic plans for self-care and management of patients with symptoms that indicate a high risk of contagion.

The Importance of Being Pandemic Prepared
Worldwide pandemics happen approximately every ten years. Pandemic preparedness and response plans help countries, regions, and organizations mitigate the effects of pandemic threats, including the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic flu strain.

There are four levels of pandemic preparedness:

  • General - Vigorously implemented public health measures.
  • Moderate - Significant ramping up of public health measures.
  • Extreme - Full implementation of public health measures.
  • Emergency - Full implementation of public health measures in response to an emergency.

Organizations should be prepared at the moderate level. Being prepared at this level will allow organizations to respond quickly to the pandemic threat, minimize the risk of transmission, and reduce the potential impact.

To ensure organizations are prepared, pandemic plans and procedures must be in place. Health and safety committees and governance groups should be involved in the development, review, and testing of pandemic plans to ensure all stakeholders are prepared.

COVID-19: An Influenza Pandemic for Healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic strain was first detected in April. It is a new strain of influenza A virus, which means it is likely a human-animal infectious virus transfer. The COVID-19 pandemic strain is an H1N1 subtype, which is a form of Influenza A that is not endemic to the human population.

COVID-19 is a dangerous strain to humans because it is likely to increase the number of people who become ill and the number of people who require medical assistance. COVID-19 could also increase the length of time that illnesses last, which could include the length of time people are infectious and can pass on the virus to others. This pandemic is considered a “severe pandemic,” which is the highest level of pandemic health risk.

Healthcare Industry Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Staff who are not at risk of infection but are in contact with patients or providers who may be contagious should still take countermeasures as the virus is airborne . Employees who are at risk of infection should be provided with a vaccination and antiviral medication, as well as have their health monitored closely. Healthcare facilities are reducing the number of patients treated and the number of procedures performed.

Clinical and nonclinical staff are being asked to work reduced hours and/or from home, if possible. Some healthcare facilities are implementing visitor restrictions, postponing elective surgery, and canceling elective procedures. Healthcare facilities are increasing their spending and purchasing additional supplies to combat the pandemic flu, such as surgical masks and vaccines.

Healthcare Staff Self-Care During the Pandemic
Staff at all levels should be practicing self-care, as well as monitoring their health closely. The COVID-19 pandemic can be dangerous to those who don’t receive treatment and have a low resistance to infection. Healthcare workers who have symptoms of the COVID-19 pandemic should stay home, if possible.

Those who must work while sick should wear a mask and take antiviral medication as prescribed by their doctor. Healthcare workers should not go to work while they are experiencing a fever or have a cough or other symptoms of the pandemic flu. If a healthcare worker is experiencing any symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately.