OOSS Perspective 2019

COVID-19 PLANS AND PROCEDURES TO ENSURE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF PATIENTS AND ASC STAFF

In the current and ever-changing COVID-19 environment, we know that each ophthalmic ASC is responding with plans and procedures to ensure health and safety of patients and ASC staff. There is much information being communicated by trusted organizations, as well as media.

For resources and information please see below.

For Keeping Your Workplace Space

COVID-19 Workplace Health

For More Workplace & Employee Pandemic Management Guidance

The advisory from Arnold & Porter in DC, “Pandemic Coronavirus: Practical and Legal Issues for Employers,” offers helpful guidance for ASC leaders managing these difficult situations.

As you establish your ASC procedures, if your community is directly affected, you may want to consider:  

  • ASC settings
    • Communicate about COVD-19 with your patients. Provide updates about changes to your policies regarding appointments, providing non-urgent patient care by telephone, and visitors. Consider using your facility’s website or social media pages to share updates.
    • Stay up-to-date on the best ways to manage patients with COVID-19.
    • Consider rescheduling procedures for non-essential procedures for patients and/or caregivers with respiratory symptoms.
    • Consider the strategies to prevent patients who can be cared for at home from coming to your facility potentially exposing themselves or others to germs, like:
      • Using your telephone system to deliver messages to incoming callers about when to seek medical care at your facility, when to seek emergency care, and where to go for information about caring for a person with COVID at home.
      • Adjusting your hours of operation to include telephone triage and follow-up of patients during a community outbreak.
      • Leveraging telemedicine technologies and self-assessment tools.
  • Staff who care for patients with COVID-19 in other healthcare facilities
    • CDC guidance is that this is considered Low-risk exposure, generally refering to brief interactions with patients with COVID-19 or prolonged close contact with patients who were wearing a face mask for source control while HCP were wearing a face mask or respirator. Use of eye protection, in addition to a face mask or respirator would further lower the risk of exposure.
    • Proper adherence to currently recommended infection control practices, including all recommended PPE, should protect HCP having prolonged close contact with patients infected with COVID-19. However, to account for any inconsistencies in use or adherence that could result in unrecognized exposures HCP should still perform self-monitoring with delegated supervision.
    • HCP with no direct patient contact and no entry into active patient management areas who adhere to routine safety precautions do not have a risk of exposure to COVID-19 (i.e., they have no identifiable risk)
  • Patient caregivers, visitors and vendors:
    • Instruct patients to limit visitors to one person.
    • Include any visitors in the pre-visit screen and at registration. Please keep a paper record of the screening of the visitors.
    • Extend screening to include visitors not accompanying patients, such as vendors.
    • Consider limiting entry points into the facility.
    • If your ASC is located in a building with other offices, consider posting signage in key areas outside your ASC.

Additional practical tasks to ensure the health and safety of patients and ASC staff:

  • Check with your vendors to ensure you have supplies needed (especially masks) as many are on back-order.
  • Have alcohol sanitizer at your hand-washing stations, as you do for flu season.
  • Work with your cleaning service to ensure nightly cleaning procedures are consistent with CDC directives and consider adding cleaning procedures during the day.

Disclaimer:  The content of this post by OOSS and Arnold & Porter is not intended to be a substitute for information shared by the CDC and WHO organizations and should not be interpreted as policy directives.