FREMONT, CA: The healthcare industries is one of the few industries that need to evolve continuously regardless of various other factors. While most industries evolve with time or the outbreak of new technologies, the healthcare segment needs to be on its toes at all times to face any challenge thrown at it. ‘Prevention is better that cure,’ a proverb that we all learn at a very young age holds especially true for the healthcare industry. With time, new infections and diseases continue to emerge, and the healthcare industry needs to be one step ahead of the game to tackle such unprecedented challenges. Until last year, a pandemic was thought to be something with a slight possibility and was perceived as a matter of ‘if’ and not ‘when.’ Then came the coronavirus disease and changed the complete outlook of the world towards pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as we know it and forced us to accept a reality that we all hoped would never come.
Apart from the outlook of the business world, COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2, has forced experts to alter the very nature of infection prevention and control. Not only has it forced the implementation of new strategies but also exposed some deeply rooted flaws in the system. The shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) has overwhelmed the healthcare industry. The urgency to strike a balance became even more challenging due to the rapidly changing guidelines and delay in testing. While all may seem to be on the negative side, the pandemic has undoubtedly shed light on some critical lessons and ways that hospitals and healthcare institutions can use to better infection prevention programs.
Perhaps one of the most significant changes was the use and re-use of N-95 masks and PPE kits. Although re-use policies have been around for a long time, we never really felt the need for it. From having an abundance of medical resources to an acute shortage, the downfall was swift and deep. This new approach towards medical resources has not also impacted professionals but also training and education for healthcare services, and alters practices within most healthcare facilities. However, merely re-using resources are not enough. Staff needs to be trained on what to do and what not to do—for instance, touching the front side of a mask after use is a big no. Healthcare institutions need to be careful in handing out these instructions and need to accustom the staff to these innate practices. The usage of paper bags for storing masks and establishing protocols for disinfection also requires years of practice.