Currently, there are more than 2.5 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 COVID-19-associated deaths. Consequently, it is more important than ever to stay protected and limit potential exposure to the virus. By now, most have heard the term “personal protective equipment” (PPE), and understand what it means. It is helpful to not only be familiar with PPE but to learn more about the ways in which PPE can reduce the risk of illness, particularly with respect to hospice care patients and employees.
Among the most vulnerable to experiencing severe symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses are those who are in hospice care. The following is a review of how hospice patients, family members, and hospice workers can stay more protected during the COVID-19 pandemic with PPE.
Reducing Risk of Infection
One main concern of coronavirus is that it spreads easily. Simply walking by too soon after someone has coughed is enough to pick up the virus in some instances. PPE reduces the risk of exposure, as it covers the skin and makes it less likely the wearer will breathe in bacteria and viruses.
Additionally, PPE can serve as a reminder to be more careful. By wearing a facemask, gloves, and other types of PPE, you are constantly reminded of the threat coronavirus and other airborne illnesses pose.
Infection control is particularly important among those in hospice care and their loved ones. Due to this, it is essential for patients, family members, and hospice workers to wear PPE anytime they are around someone who may have the virus. For coronavirus, in particular, hospice patients and their family members can reduce the risk of getting the virus by wearing a mask and gloves.
The mask can help in several ways. Most notably, you are less likely to walk through a cloud of pathogens or touch your mouth with your hands by wearing a mask. Wearing gloves, along with washing hands often, can also reduce the risk of getting pathogens on your hands. It is also helpful to wear long sleeves, shoe covers, and other types of PPE to stay as safe as possible.
Stopping the Spread
COVID-19 and other airborne diseases most commonly spread through coughing, sneezing and talking. The easiest way to reduce the risk of picking up pathogens spread through droplets spread by these behaviors or other means is to wear personal protective equipment. If the coronavirus is increasing in a certain area, the spread can be significantly reduced by 90 percent or more by properly wearing personal protective equipment. This is particularly important for those most vulnerable to severe symptoms, such as the elderly and individuals with pre-existing and underlying health conditions.
Types and Uses of PPE
The types of personal protective equipment required vary and depend on the situation. In the absence of a pandemic, health professionals who deal with sick and injured patients are the main ones to wear personal protective equipment; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has made PPE more popular among the public. The most common types of PPE that work to protect you from the coronavirus include:
- Face masks (face shields) – The most common type of PPE used among the public. PPE-grade face masks or face shields — such as N95 respirators — prevent viruses from being projected into the air while talking, laughing, sneezing or simply breathing.
- Gloves – The virus can spread if someone touches their mouth after touching a contaminated surface. Gloves and hand sanitizer, along with a conscious effort not to touch the mouth or other areas of the face, can help prevent this concern.
Other types of PPE include goggles, shoe covers, headcovers, and long sleeves. A face mask and gloves are a great start, but wearing long sleeves and other types of PPE can be very helpful as well.
People with Increased Vulnerability
Most under the age of 30 and with no underlying health conditions typically experience minor symptoms and recover quickly from the coronavirus. For a portion of the population — including those who are elderly and with terminal illnesses —, however, the virus is far more challenging to fight. For many who meet either or both of these criteria, COVID-19 could lead to serious complications, even death.
It is important to understand the substantial risk COVID-19 poses to hospice care patients. Family members should be careful when out and about in their daily life, especially if they spend any time with their loved ones in hospice care. It is important to also wear personal protective equipment around those who are more vulnerable and to use extra caution to ensure there is no physical contact or close contact without a mask.
Contact Harbor Light Hospice
You can learn more about PPE by getting in touch with our team at Harbor Light Hospice today. We offer hospice care to patients who need assistance with daily living due to a terminal illness, and each member of our hospice care team utilizes the safest practices to keep patients safe during this challenging time. If you or a loved one have been wondering about hospice care, we are ready to answer all your questions and help you determine if hospice care is the right decision for you.