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Health Alerts

Posted on: March 1, 2020

COVID-19 Update for Health Care Systems Mitigating COVID-19 Impacts

Requested Actions: 

  • Please review SHD’s recent updates for clinicians from February 28 and March 1 and follow those guidelines for determining eligibility for COVID-19 testing. Visit http://www.snohd.org/304/HealthAlerts 
  • Put systems in place to reduce the number of people with mild illness that present for care, including telephone triage, funneling to designated care sites for COVID-19 evaluation, use of alternate care settings, and any other means available. 
  • Anticipate a potentially large increase in the number of persons presenting for evaluation and clinical care related to COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months, including those requiring hospitalization. 
  • Develop policies and practices to conserve and prioritize use of personal protective equipment (e.g., respirators, gowns, gloves, eye protection) in settings where front-line clinicians are most likely to encounter COVID-19 (e.g., walk-in clinics, urgent care, emergency departments). 
  • Educate your system’s staff and patient populations about COVID-19, non-pharmaceutical interventions and pandemic preparedness. 
  • Staff and patient population engagement should include addressing issues of stress, anxiety, and stigma. Visit https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus/Resources and scroll down to Resources on Mental Health and Personal Impact. 
  • Actively review your pandemic readiness plans and conduct table top exercises or analogous processes to gain familiarity, detect gaps, and facilitate implementation.  

Background 

Recent discovery of community- and healthcare-acquired COVID-19 cases in the region demonstrate that while our containment efforts to-date probably helped to defer and limit local transmission, they did not stop it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized that the establishment of sustained transmission in the United States is likely to occur and that current containment efforts are intended to delay (not preclude) the onset of such transmission.  This has offered an ever-narrowing window of time in order to give the health care system and society at-large time to prepare and thereby mitigate the peak and overall cumulative impact of COVID-19. While containment efforts will continue to occur, they must be accompanied by mitigation efforts.  In the short-term, it seems unlikely that any diagnostic, therapeutic or vaccine innovation will come to bear on the situation at hand. Thus, these planning-and-implementation efforts employing traditional infection prevention and disease control measures will be essential to limiting the impact of COVID-19 on health care providers, health care systems, and the community. This is not cause for panic, but it is time to get prepared for the probability of sustained transmission in the foreseeable future.

Resources 

Information for Health Care Professionals
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/ 

Healthcare System Preparedness and Response
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/planning-preparedness/healthcare-preparedness-response.html 

Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N-95 Respirators
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-supply-strategies.html 

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions
https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/index.html 

Pandemic Preparedness Resources
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/pandemic-preparedness-resources.html 

Washington State Department of Health Resources
https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus/Resources

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