Author: Kelly Gray-Eurom, MD, MMM, FACEP, Chief Quality Officer/Assistant Dean for Quality and Safety, Professor of Emergency Medicine, UFCOM
Just as with preparing for work, plan your routine for returning from work to decontaminate everything that was exposed to COVID-19. Have a post-work decontamination area, ideally at the hospital. If your decontamination area is at home, designate a separate bathroom and keep it stocked with decontamination solutions, clean clothes, and laundry bags.
The hot zone is where infection is most likely to spread because many items are contaminated. You can still reduce your chances of infection, however, by following a rigid regimen:
A note about hand hygiene: Both soap and alcohol-based cleaners are effective against most respiratory viruses, including influenza and COVID-19. Alcohol-based cleaners, however, are inadequate for some pathogens like bacterial spores; some nonenveloped viruses; and several GI pathogens like Clostridioides difficile, norovirus, and Cryptosporidium. When in doubt, wash your hands with soap and water and use an alcohol-based cleaner at the end of your regimen.
Although you are less likely to contract COVID-19 at home, exposure can still occur from germs brought home from your workspace if the proper decontamination steps are not followed. Steps for proper decontamination at home include:
What you did during your shift was hard and stressful. As part of your home decontamination routine, allow yourself the time and space to decompress. Personal time is one of the best “decontamination” techniques that we can give to ourselves. Don’t give short shrift to this part of your decontamination routine.