In light of the global health emergency due to the spreading concern of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, surveyors will be paying particular attention to infection prevention and control in long-term care facilities. While safety precautions and procedures for infection control are always important for the well-being of staff and residents, the growing concern around the coronavirus makes preparedness an even higher priority.

“Because coronavirus infections can rapidly appear and spread, facilities must take steps to prepare, including reviewing their infection control policies and practices to prevent the spread of infection,” wrote the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Recent public health events such as the Ebola virus, 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza, and Zika outbreaks highlight the critical need for providers to be prepared by planning for infectious disease response within their organizations.”

CMS is expecting healthcare staff to not only follow basic infection control procedures, but to also follow the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). CDC is currently advising that healthcare staff follow Standard, Contact, and Airborne Precautions and to follow a conservative approach to HCP monitoring for quick identification of early symptoms of illness. This will help minimize the exposure to and risk of spreading any infectious diseases including the coronavirus.

One of the precautions that CDC recommends is using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) for good hand hygiene. If your hands are visibly soiled, however, then it is recommended to use soap and warm water to clean and disinfect. ABHS should be used before and after contact with residents and when handling any infectious waste.

In addition, it is also recommended that all personal protective equipment (PPE) be checked and used appropriately. Staff should be familiar with donning and doffing all personal protective equipment, as well as how to properly clean reusable gear.

If your staff must dispose of infectious waste, then you should consider the Shield™ Service Sink Splash Guard from Apollo. It helps minimize the risk of exposure to spattering waste that harbors pathogens. It may be cleaned and disinfected in place which makes maintenance easy.

“We are working diligently to ensure surveyors and healthcare providers across the country understand and comply with critically important guidelines that are designed to stop the spread of infectious diseases and keep patients free from harm,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

In summary, due to the growing concern around the coronavirus, state surveyors will be ensuring that your facility follows the guidelines set forth by the CDC and that your staff is compliant with all infection prevention and control policies. In addition, by being proactive and investing in quality PPE like the Shield™ Splash Guard, your efforts will keep both staff and residents happy and healthy.