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Leadership Perspectives: Answering the FAQs for PPE

As the COVID-19 health crisis continues, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) remains a hot topic. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding PPE and how to keep staff on the right course.

Q: What foundational area should leaders consider in regards to PPE?

A: Follow a best practice approach and provide focused policy and procedures. It remains essential for providers to ensure their PPE policies and procedures remain consistent with state, CMS and CDC guidance. Keeping up-to-date with any new guidance is essential—as we know that guidance continues to change rapidly.

Q: What are a few PPE best practice approaches to reinforce with staff?

A: It is important to stress with staff that the proper use of PPE is not only for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, but to also limit transmission of any infectious agent. As you know, standard precautions are based on the principle that all blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions except sweat, regardless of whether they contain visible blood, non-intact skin, and mucous membranes may contain transmissible infectious agents. Reinforce the following:

  • With Transmission-Based Precautions, it is essential that staff understand actions (precautions) that need to be implemented, in addition to standard precautions that are based upon the mode of transmission in order to prevent or control infections.
  • Understanding and proper demonstration of PPE use is essential for all staff who care for residents, entering a unit that has COVID-19 positive or quarantined residents, and for employees who clean and disinfect the residents’ rooms.
  • Re-emphasizing the primary mode of transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious agents, which of course is from person-to-person, will lead us to identifying PPE necessary for protection—for employees and for residents.

Q: What areas are important to especially emphasize to ensure quality and compliance?

A: All staff in all departments play a crucial role. Reinforce universal source control (e.g., face masks for all staff and masks for residents when tolerated, visitors and vendors) throughout your facility and staff even when there are no cases in the facility and a low community prevalence.

Q: What are a few considerations to support ongoing staff knowledge?

A: It is important to provide multiple opportunities to reinforce the importance and proper use of PPE. Unfortunately, the misuse or lack of use can be one of the factors that can contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, today more than ever, it is crucial for all staff to understand WHAT to use, HOW to Don and Doff using proper sequencing, if PPE can be reused, and if so, how to follow the policy for extended use and the importance of hand hygiene. Emphasize the following key areas with staff:

  • How to select, use, and Don and Doff PPE in a proper sequence.
  • It is important to stay up to date with the most recent CDC and CMS guidance for PPE.
  • Use full PPE, including gloves, gowns, face protection, mask or N95 and eye protection) for the care and interaction with any resident with known or suspected COVID-19.

Leadership Considerations

Consider the following when designing strategies and developing practical approaches to PPE use, optimization and practice:

  1. Update policies and procedures, in accordance to state, CMS and CDC guidelines, and keep up-to-date with any new guidance.
  2. Emphasize a PPE best practice approach to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and limit transmission of any infectious agent.
  3. Creating a supportive culture for all team members and providing ongoing support will be essential to foster adherence to PPE standards and expectations.
  4. Ongoing PPE education and training is important for all staff, and should include best practices, state and Federal guidance and your facility policies and procedures.
  5. View COVID-10 resources and tools from Pathway Health >>

 

Resources:

CMS: Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes, October 2020

CDC: Optimizing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supplies

CMS: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Nursing Home Visitation

Susan LaGrange, RN, BSN, NHA, CDONA, FACDONA, CIMT
Director of Education


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