Changing hospital work practices — alert for construction workers

Changing hospital work practices — alert for construction workers

August 19, 2020
Business Affairs Risk Management
From the August 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Thom Wellington

Hospitals depend on incoming patients for all types of procedures and evaluations, its how they stay in business.
With the advent of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), no one wants to go to a hospital for anything. Hospitals are experiencing huge losses in revenue due to the governmental restrictions on elective procedures and related services. As the restrictions are slowly rescinded, hospitals will still be faced with convincing the public that their facilities are safe.

To assure the public the environmental safety inside the hospital has improved it will require everyone working in unison following the same established safety protocols. Just recently people were turning in neighbors that were not properly social distancing, if they see something improper in a hospital they will react with alarm. The public has undergone a tremendous education in contagious diseases and they will be ready to point out any improper activity when they see it. Consequently, hospitals are already implementing new safety protocols to demonstrate proper actions and to keep everyone safe.

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Two groups that will also need to be educated on new safety requirements are the construction workers and vendors that perform work inside hospitals. Even with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) existing recommendation that all personnel entering a hospital to perform work are to have Infection Control Awareness training, many facilities overlooked it or sporadically provided the training. Even though the training is required annually, overburdened hospital personnel neglected to provide the refresher training. The purpose of the CDC guidance on providing the training was to educate workers on the special requirements and conditions in a hospital environment. The ultimate goal was to reduce healthcare associated infections (HAIs) which have become a large cost to hospitals and are preventable. It was in every hospital’s best interest to educate workers on controlling dust and keeping patients safe.

Now, after the world’s experience with COVID-19, it is mandatory for workers entering the hospital to have this training, understand it, and participate in making it happen. Besides general infection control awareness, new rules need to be added for workers to follow. For instance, The Joint Commission is advising universal masking. This means workers should be wearing masks while performing work in the hospital. Distancing from other workers when possible, wearing gloves, and adding disinfecting stations at each work area entrance are just a few of the new items. Regular protocols such as wiping the wheels on all carts prior to entering the hospital or exiting a construction area, and covering tools and waste containers when traveling through the hospital are still important, but now will be enforced.

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