Covid-19 Safety Measures Implemented in Hospitals

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A doctor prepares a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health care workers must follow all COVID-19 protocols including wearing a face mask or shield even when not in direct contact with patients. (Photo/Praesh Shiwakoti). 

The year might be coming to an end, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. While 57.7% of Florida is fully vaccinated and the cases are slowly reducing, the virus is still spreading and the brave people on the frontline are still fighting the battle. 

On Dec. 31, 2019, China recorded its very first COVID-19 case, marking the start to what would soon become a global pandemic. In February, a 55-year-old male in Washington.was the first American to pass away from complications of the virus. As of Sept. 30, 2021 the world’s total cases have surpassed 233 million, and more than 4 million people have lost their lives. 

In 2020, nearly 11,500 health care workers around the globe have lost their lives due to the pandemic. Hatice Fugate, a registered nurse practitioner, with American Providers, spoke of the effects the past year has had on her, “ I feel like I have an immense responsibility… I have limited my own life and my family’s life more than most people to protect my patients.”   

The constant stress, both physical and emotional, takes a toll on one’s mental state. Every day, health care workers place both themselves and their families at risk simply by going to work. Thus, hospitals have established a plethora of protocols to ensure that employees remain safe. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, all U.S. healthcare workers, regardless of whether they work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or not, are required to wear facial coverings at all times. Considering they are involved directly with patients, it is essential for them to wear some sort of surgical mask as those provide the most protection. 

Hospitals such as the Miami VA Medical Center control entrances and exits where all health care workers, including janitorial and cafeteria staff, entering the hospitals are screened daily. The hospital measures temperatures at certain checkpoints and if anyone has an abnormally high or low temperature, he/she must return home. 

Additionally, all medical workers must fill out certain questionnaires, similar to the Magnus questionnaires Heritage parents are required to fill out for their children before entering the building premises. If a person shows any symptoms , such as coughing or a sore throat, they are required to reveal that so that the hospitals can be aware. With that information, they will advise the worker to stay home for one to two weeks to keep patients and other employees safe. 

On the chance that a family member or friend tests positive for the virus, the health care worker must immediately quarantine. Once they take their own COVID-19 test and display proof of a negative result, they are permitted to return. If they test positive they must quarantine for at least a week. 

As for vaccinations, NPR estimates that 27% of U.S. health care workers are not vaccinated. On September 9th, President Biden officially mandated vaccines for health care workers that work at hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. Hospitals such as Jackson Memorial Health System and Baptist Health South Florida have already enforced strict vaccine mandates. However, elsewhere in the country, particularly in more rural parts, health care workers continue to refuse the vaccine. An overwhelming number of studies confirm that the vaccine is safe, yet they hardly alter the apprehensive attitudes of employees who are unsure about the effectiveness or possible risks. 

Dr. Shilpa Paul MD, an internist at Allina Health, stated that COVID-19 has “made life in the hospital much more challenging. We are encouraging everyone, not just health care workers, to get their vaccine. We just want everything to return to normal.”  

Irene is an incoming sophomore at American Heritage who is entering her first year as a staff member for the Patriot Post. She loves reading (practically anything she can manage to get her hands on), watching movies, volunteering and listening to music. Her passion for writing started early at the age of 8 and she has been involved in both creative writing and journalism since then. Other than being in newspaper she is involved in a lot of different clubs at Heritage such as Best Buddies, Key Club, HOSA, UNICEF, Amnesty International and more.

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