As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our wound center partners find themselves needing to provide essential services to our patients who may have some hesitancy to attend these treatments out of fear of exposure. Wound Care and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy are an essential part of healing for chronic wound patients.
The Consequences of Postponing Treatment
Chronic wound care patient populations are already at high risk due to their comorbidities and overall health concerns. Delaying or avoiding treatment could mean a trip to the ER (which is likely overloaded) and possible admission (finding a bed may be difficult). Keeping patients out of the inpatient setting in an already overcrowded hospital is paramount at this juncture and can be accomplished by consistent patient encouragement and education so they feel comfortable attending their essential outpatient services. We cannot stress enough the importance of continued adherence to a treatment plan for these at-risk patients.
Keeping Patients Safe During Appointments
We continue to collaborate with our wound care program partners to help them maintain rigorous and consistent disinfection practices and use specific cleaning agents that are both effective against the COVID-19 virus and also safe in a hyperbaric environment. Here are additional operational safety tips:
- Routine disinfection is critical: It’s essential to establish and adhere to rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of all high-touch areas within the suite, including the HBOT unit, after every patient visit.
- Maintain a pre-appointment protocol: Conduct patient telephone screenings one day prior to each appointment. This not only allows you to check for signs and symptoms, it also gives you an opportunity to put patients at ease as you emphasize safety protocols and disinfection routines you’ve put in place.
- Continue safety protocols on day of visit: It’s important to screen every patient before entry into the waiting room on the day of the appointment. A best practice would be to have patients call from their cell phone on arrival and wait until the center contacts them when it’s time to come in for their appointment. At that time, the patient can be escorted directly to their treatment room, minimizing exposure to other patients and staff.
- Minimize the possibility of cross-exposure: When possible, patients should be unaccompanied by friends or family. Hospital-specific screening upon, or before, patient entry (usually temperature checks, symptoms and exposure questionnaires) are an important step in protecting other patients and healthcare workers.
- If exposure is suspected or confirmed: Any patient who reports exposure or symptoms should be returned home and arrangements should be made for alternative care (home health, telemedicine, etc.).
- Face coverings are mandatory: Of course, patients and all employees should be mandated to wear a face covering at all times.
Managing Postponements or Cancellations
If a patient stops or postpones treatment for any reason, they should be contacted immediately to reschedule and resume their treatment regimen. Be prepared to re-educate and remind them of the safety protocols in place and the potential consequences of delaying treatment.
Communicating Effectively Throughout the Crisis
Remember, having the most effective safety measures in place will do nothing to encourage patient attendance if they are the center’s best kept secret. Get the word out so you can save limbs and lives. Yes, even in a pandemic. If you have questions or need assistance regarding wound care and/or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, feel free to email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.