The world is now struggling with a healthcare crisis that has been declared a pandemic by the WHO. The ever-evolving pandemic has created a health crisis of unprecedented scale. It is vital to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The recent events surrounding the handling of this crisis have raised many questions about the capacity of all major healthcare organizations. These were about managing the crisis with serious issues like staffing and protocol management emerging every day.
Any healthcare provider who comes into direct contact with patients must take precautions to ensure that they protect themselves. With demand for healthcare services surging amid concerns over the spread of the virus, provider health and safety are vital to ensuring adequate staffing to care for those affected by COVID-19.
Public health has far-reaching concern and they affect each individual directly. Healthcare is the primary right of every citizen of the world. The effects of proper healthcare infrastructure are far-reaching. Direct care providers must be also taken care of. This includes all the front-line health workers and social workers. They are the primary caregivers. They along with the hospitals are facing questions from the patients or those with the suspicion of an ailment. These health concerns affect the behaviour that is exacerbated by the anxiety associated with the spread of the disease.
Prevention and control of the infection are one of the major concerns in every healthcare facet. All organizations strive for the health of their staff and clients. Ever since COVID-19 has been classified as a pandemic, many healthcare organizations have taken serious steps towards a rapid response to the global spread of this disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has initiated many cautions ever since the health crisis was introduced to the world. They have suggested ramping up healthcare facilities and hospitals to avoid their being overwhelmed in case of widespread transmission of COVID-19.
Here We Share Some Tips On How To Plan A Healthcare Crisis In The Future:
A Contingency Plan to Be Created for Adequate Care
In the case of a pandemic, it is vital to set up a contingency plan for the future. A pandemic has to be dealt with using the expertise of professional health officials with many years of experience.
Any impending threat of pandemics always persists in any healthcare establishment or the operations of hospitals and the society at large. Emergency Medicine includes the management of infectious disease pandemic and as the hospital resources are at most risk of spread and loss of the inadequate supply of staff is another challenge that needs to be dealt with. The staffing of any healthcare facility is at risk during a pandemic.
Another major risk for hospitals is the shortage of nursing staff. During the risk of a pandemic, it is vital to be prepared with a robust nursing staff that can respond to any health emergency like an infectious disease epidemic.
Health advisory is issued by physicians globally for Health and security which focuses on some priorities that help to maintain appropriate care and staffing during any outbreak. They are also eligible for the COVID-19 crisis as detailed below:
Proper planning for the capacity to manage a surge in patients as per the projections by the CDC. This is valid for all individual hospitals in a region.
Protect other patients, frontline workers and healthcare staff from the spread of infections in the hospital.
Taking all the necessary measures to augment new staff, stretch and maintain the existing staff or the hospital workforce.
Proper allocation of healthcare resources in an organized and ethical manner which is in the benefit of everyone.
All these concerns are valid globally and may help society in the long term too. Any hospital faces staffing due to the long working hours of healthcare workers. They are also exposed to many infected patients who put them at risk. These strategies benefit healthcare organizations.
Public Health Emergencies Should be Well Planned
In the outset of a real health crisis, the pre-planning of the management and the lawmakers is crucial. There are many protocols and processes that a team has to go through for developing an emergency plan. The plan, of course, needs to include flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability.
The planning and preparation for pandemics are set on some crucial pillars as suggested by the global healthcare leaders and the U.S. National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. These pillars are Preparedness & communication, Surveillance & detection, and Response & containment.
As per the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the standards that should be set for a health crisis are to be employed in case some changes are needed in the health operations under a public health emergency. This helps to prepare for giving care amid a disaster to the level of a catastrophe. In case of a disaster or an epidemic, medical care needs to focus on promoting the rational use of available resources rather than save an individual. The ultimate aim is the best possible outcomes for the health of a population as a whole.
Staffing Constraints Need to Be Dealt Creatively
The expansion of the health care staff is a crucial part of a Pandemic management team. In times of surge in demand, the strategies should aim at expanding the staff and making the existing staff adapt. There might be cases of circulation of illness among the staff members and this could create a staff crunch. The staffing of nurses and support systems is the most crucial link in the preparedness of health emergencies.
Some strategies might help expand staffing if a public health emergency arises. Mutual aid agreements, volunteers with experience, help from the relief agencies, temporary professionals, retired professionals or calling of national disaster resource teams from other regions are some solutions to tackle such a challenge.
Certain limitations might inhibit these strategies in case of a widespread event such as the COVID-19 pandemic. As it is a global crisis, localities can’t rely on external support as resources are needed everywhere. The infections among healthcare workers, their absence during the illness of some family members or extreme emotional distress due to workload can reduce their capacity to care for patients.
Healthcare Worker Should Be Protected
The spreading of infections among healthcare workers is one of the major risks that can derail the entire effort against a pandemic. It is vital to plan for this to ensure adequate staffing. In the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the healthcare workers who were exposed became infected and they transmitted the infection to other patients and visitors too. The whole healthcare facilities come to a risk. This can be a huge bottleneck in the functions of any healthcare unit.
The infection prevention and control guidelines have been laid down by the CDC to cut the exposure risk for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health personnel is also recommended the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to cut risks of infections.
There could be certain risks like the shortage of PPE during a pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a major global body that needs to plan for the PPE supply and shortages to protect the frontline healthcare workers. Otherwise, they can be ill-equipped to care for patients.
The director-general of the WHO had recently mentioned during his briefing for the COVID-19 crisis that it is vital to stop the inappropriate use of PPE as the top priority is that the PPE should go to healthcare workers first then those who are sick followed by the caregivers of someone who is sick.
The Frontline Healthcare Workers Should Be Kept Informed
The health care professional is the backbone of any pandemic preparedness plan. So, there is guidance on the preparedness during a public health emergency. The prevention measures may evolve with the diseases encountered, experience and development of new resources or research through investigation of existing cases. But it is vital to keep the health care professional informed of any new developments.
As the situation changes rapidly in the case of a global pandemic, it is a good idea to keep the healthcare professionals updated through a portal or website. This has been done by the CDC for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online training and education of frontline workers about the necessary precautions and procedures is a great way to impart accessible information to the health care professional in a pandemic situation. This helps them stay up to date with infection prevention and control procedures.
The above 5 measures are crucial towards preparing a system for a pandemic and to maximize the ability of healthcare workers to successfully fight the spread of any disease.