Author: Kelly Gray-Eurom, MD, MMM, FACEP, Chief Quality Officer/Assistant Dean for Quality and Safety, Professor of Emergency Medicine, UFCOM
In preparing for work that involves exposure to COVID-19, you can minimize your exposure and reduce your chances of transmitting the virus to your home space. The tips written below were created early in the pandemic when little was known about the transmission and contact risks for COVID-19. Fortunately, the risk of exposure from patients and contaminated surfaces is much less than originally feared. As such, these recommendations are overly conservative by 2023 standards. However, they are still generally useful for reducing the spread of infections and could prove lifesaving in the event of a new pandemic or when caring for patients with high-risk infections.
Before going to work, plan ahead so that you have what you need to do your job without risking unnecessary exposure of your belongings to viral particles. Only bring necessities and make sure everything can be decontaminated or discarded. Remember, the less you bring, the fewer things you will have to decontaminate after your shift. Keep it simple — bring only the essentials.
Other essentials you will most likely need, like your driver’s license and home keys, should be left in your car, if possible. It also helps to pack a personal item that you feel contributes to your well-being; however, it may be best to leave this item in the car as well or at least make sure it is something that can easily be disinfected without getting damaged.
Outside of your shift, focus more on your well-being in general. Treating potentially infectious patients can be emotionally stressful, and working in PPE is dehydrating and physically taxing. Prepare yourself mentally and physically by enjoying your time off and doing things before your shift that help calm you.
Keep things as normal for you as you can. You are the most important thing that you bring to work. Keeping you safe, sane, and healthy is the best thing that you can do for your patients, your family, and your well-being.