Throughout time, we’ve had epidemics and pandemics that have thrown medical facilities into chaos. Unfortunately, there is never any way to truly prepare for a disease outbreak. Still, there are things you can do to be as organized as possible and potentially save lives.
To be as prepared as possible for everything that comes your way, here are six things your medical clinic must do:
Stock Up on Medical Supplies
Each time your clinic orders new medical supplies, you are likely purchasing as much as you will usually use in a single ordering period. You might know you go through X number of masks in the operating theatre or X pairs of gloves.
Consider adding just a few additional products that would be helpful in an emergency or a pandemic, above and beyond what you would typically use. You may even see the value of keeping a high volume of personal protective equipment for emergencies. By doing so, you’re less likely to be on the back foot should you find yourself facing a crisis of pandemic proportions.
Sick patients during a pandemic look much different than sick patients on the average working day. Though many hospitals throughout the US already operate above capacity, pandemics can see them become crowded and chaotic.
Preparing staff for what to do when this happens might be how you limit that chaos and treat patients as quickly and efficiently as possible. Focus on using an emergency response framework that gives everyone a job from the ground up.
This framework might include an incident management team, coordinating responders, health operations, technical expertise, and information and planning. When your team can jump rapidly into the pandemic mode, everything else should fall into place.
Understand the Reporting Process
Whenever there’s a highly contagious disease on the horizon, it’s essential to know what you should do with that information. Once confirmed, notify the World Health Organization under the International Health Regulations, and seek guidance and surveillance. Keeping authorities informed means they can advise on the best courses of action to keep the illness contained.
Undergo Infectious Diseases Training
Infectious diseases training should already form a core part of your medical education. However, if it doesn’t, now would be an ideal time to implement it. Having a base understanding of infectious diseases and managing epidemics can help your team understand the different viruses and diseases, where they come from, and management and treatment techniques.
Follow Infection Control Practices
Most medical clinics already understand the importance of infection control practices. However, having reminders in place can mean that your team will always know what is expected of them.
Provide information on handwashing, PPE use, and regular cleaning of high-touch areas with approved cleaning products. You can also follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning product use so that you’re using the right products in the right situations.
Have a Plan for Challenging Situations
We’ve quickly learned that pandemics are unpredictable. While you might have a plan for making sure things in your medical clinic go smoothly, it’s essential to have one for when they don’t.
Make sure your team knows what to do when you’re short-staffed or if contagious patients mingle with the general public. Outline all possible scenarios, and come up with ideas for how to manage them.
Humankind has faced many epidemics and pandemics in the past, but that doesn’t mean we are as prepared as we can be. To make sure your medical clinic is set up to handle such a situation, consider implementing the strategies outlined above.