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Nurses, the front line against coronavirus: What you need to know

The new coronavirus has resulted in concern throughout the country. People are taking precautions to help reduce their risk of exposure, but no one faces greater risk then those on the front lines, those who willingly deal with this and other dangerous illnesses on a daily basis.

Nurses and other health care workers knowingly put themselves on this front line to help better ensure the wellbeing of their patients. But how can they ensure their own health? The following information can help.

How can nurses better ensure their own safety?

Basic infection control measures appear to be effective against this latest strain of the coronavirus. Regularly and thoroughly washing hands, using gloves as appropriate and ensuring you get enough rest and proper nutrition will help to better ensure your own health.

Nurses can further protect their health and the health of their community by following their facility’s preparedness plan. Although each may vary slightly, most include procedures to help better ensure early detection of COVID-19 along with actions to help contain the virus and the best way to care for patients who exhibit symptoms. This procedure will likely include instructions on protocol to notify local and state health departments of COVID-19 cases within your facility.

Will these protocols work?

Unfortunately, there is concern hospitals will not properly protect their staff from a potential outbreak. The case in Seattle has led to questions about the safety of those who were exposed to patients who tested positive for the virus. The Washington State Nurses Association has voiced these concerns and also asked how facilities will handle required quarantine of nurses. Will these nurses need to use paid time off to serve the quarantine, or will the health care facility have another option? This is a significant question as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged facilities to exclude from work health care professionals who have come into close contact with patients who test positive for COVID-19 for at least 14 days.

Officials have not yet provided clear answers to these questions, but we will provide updates as more information becomes available.