The constant exposure to bacterial and viral agents places health care personnel at greater risk of infection during an outbreak. Extra measures are put into place to keep patients in good health.
At any given time, health care personnel are intimately involved with the care of patients. Tending to matters ranging from assistance with daily living, emergency planning, infection prevention, to the treatment of complex illnesses, it is needless to say that our health care workers need to stay vigilant in their practice of infection precautions and be proactive with personal hygiene to keep themselves and their patients protected amid an outbreak of a novel virus.
1) Take preventative measures
While further investigations are required to understand the spread of the novel coronavirus, preliminary research suggests that, similar to other known coronaviruses, it is possibly transmitted through the air, especially when one sneezes and coughs.
Constant exposure to droplets while taking care of patients makes health care personnel more vulnerable to the fast-spreading virus. To minimise direct contact with the virus, personnel should wear a surgical mask, a face shield or goggles at work, and, most importantly, perform hand hygiene, whether they are on or off duty. Personnel should familiarise themselves with any additional infection prevention and control measures, including the safe application and removal of personal protective equipment (PPE).
2) Stay on top of the latest developments
Staying informed and alert is an effective coping strategy for when there is a health emergency. Health care professionals should keep a lookout for inflammatory reports, which can provoke irrational reactions. Take a step further and do your research to educate yourself about what is known and unknown. The HKSAR government has recently launched a site for the public to keep track of the latest situation in Hong Kong.
3) Notify local health department when encountering suspected cases
If health care personnel observe fever or respiratory symptoms in their patients or identify signs of coronavirus infection in themselves, they / their patients should seek medical advice promptly.
An important point to note is that not all hospitals are equipped to treat suspected coronavirus patients. Since private hospitals do not have areas for infectious disease, they will not accept patients if they show symptoms of pneumonia, visited Mainland China in the last 14 days or have had contact with suspected or confirmed cases.
Suspected cases should be reported to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), and patients will be transferred to designated public hospitals for further screening, clinical management, and isolation if need be. Certain services, such as the rapid flu test and the electronic ticketing services are temporarily suspended in light of the new arrangement.
Below is a list of private hospitals that have updated their patient admission guidelines in accordance with the CHP guidelines. Learn where to seek help if you or your patient start to develop pneumonia-like symptoms.
Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital
Hong Kong Adventist Hospital
Matilda International Hospital
St. Paul Hospital
Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital
Precious Blood Hospital
St. Teresa’s Hospital