There is no such thing as taking too many precautions in the face of a global epidemic. Especially one that has continued to grow at such an unprecedented rate.
Our clients have continued to reach out to us from across Canada, seeking nurses to screen people at entrances to facilities of all kinds.
If you find yourself working for us as a nurse in the next few months, you may be required to screen people for COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) symptoms as part of your job duties. We hope to help you access appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), but regardless, we have created a list of what tools you will need to utilize in these kind of nurse roles.
Your hands are the most likely part of your body to carry virus pathogens around. As a nurse, it’s likely that you will touch patients as you treat them. You will touch surfaces where pathogens may have travelled to. Wearing gloves will protect you from bringing those pathogens into your body through points of contact like your mouth, nose, and ears. If you are only scanning patients with an infrared thermometer, you may not have to change your gloves. However, if you are touching patients, it would be responsible to change gloves in between assessments, so as not to carry potentials pathogens from one patient to another.
Masks and Protective Visors:
A surgical mask can help you from carrying pathogens from your hands to your mouth and nose, if you inadvertently touch your face. They act as a physical barrier from airborne particles and bodily fluids from coughing and sneezing. However, it is debatable whether they can completely protect against the virus.
It may be even better to use a larger protective visor to cover your whole face, so that you can protect your eyes in addition to your mouth and nose. A plastic visor could be disinfected frequently, whereas a single-use surgical mask should not be used more than once.
On that note, the World Health Organization advises users of surgical masks to be careful when removing a surgical mask: remove the mask from behind your head as opposed to touching the front where particles may have made contact. Dispose of the mask securely and immediately wash your hands thoroughly.
Protective Gowns and Head Coverings:
Nurses can wear a disposable plastic gown and head covering to cover the rest of the body when screening patients. This prevents particles from adhering to your hair or clothing, and then being passed to your face.
This will be used to test patient temperatures rapidly and at a safe distance. As mentioned in this instruction video, infrared thermometers measure temperature through emissivity, which is defined as “effectiveness in emitting energy as thermal radiation.” Temperature readings may be displayed on a connected monitor.
Note: take care when aiming the thermometer, so that you don’t aim it in a patient’s eyes.