Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard that this flu season is one of the worst in recent history. With widespread cases of influenza in virtually every state, all at the same time, health care providers everywhere are fighting to stay on top of the heavy patient load they are facing with this epidemic. This creates a stressful situation for both physicians, nurses, support staff, and patients.
So how do you handle such a challenging flu season? While you likely can’t avoid feeling the strain, there are some things that you can do to help protect your patients and yourself from further spreading illness.
Protect Your Patients
During any flu season, physicians’ offices, urgent care centers, and hospitals are filled with people experiencing flu symptoms. Protecting those patients who are not affected by the flu is a big responsibility.
- Ensure that all patients who present with respiratory issues are masked upon arrival at the facility. If possible, segregate these patients in the waiting room or request that they avoid close contact with other patients.
- Take care to sanitize surfaces in the waiting room, patient rooms, and other areas that may be contaminated, following any contact with sick patients. Think about doorknobs, chair arms, pens and clipboards, and other ordinary objects.
- For patients with less urgent needs, such as simple yearly checkups and physicals or elective procedures that can be delayed, suggest that they reschedule after the peak of flu season begins to subside.
Those who work directly with patients are unlikely to be able to avoid direct contact with patients who have the flu. However, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself from becoming sick, as well.
- Take care of your own health. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, make time to exercise, and be sure to follow a healthy eating plan. Taking vitamins and supplements that help to boost your immune system may help you to fight off infections, as well.
- Mask up to avoid breathing in excessive airborne germs. While it’s not always the most comfortable way to go about your day, it beats ending up sick in bed.
- Wash your hands frequently and be sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
If You or Your Staff Gets Sick
It is a very busy time of year for any medical facility, but the best thing to do if you or a staff member gets sick is to stay home until you are no longer contagious. Set rules about when those who are out with an illness may return to work. Being fever-free for 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medications is a good rule of thumb to use. Though it can be tempting to fight through sickness and come to work anyway, there is a risk of contaminating patients, plus there is an increased chance of developing complications and worsening your illness if you push your body too far without giving yourself time to rest and recuperate.
With the heightened cases of the flu, many hospitals and facilities are in need of more healthcare professionals to treat patients. Apply your expertise and take a look at our open opportunities here to jump in and help.