Coronavirus (COVID-19) What Nurses Need to Know

Coronavirus (COVID-19) What Nurses Need to Know

Every public and private sector agency is monitoring an outbreak caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), first identified in China.

Today, Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp both private-sector companies are working together alongside the FDA and the CDC to create COVID-19 tests.

 Roche has FDA approval on its COVID-19 test. What will start with a website made by Google to screen potential patients? Next, drive-thru testing at both Target and Walmart parking lot locations.

However, nurses are care providers both on and off shift. You must take precautions and protect yourself. 

Creating and educating nursing staff on a preparedness plan that includes infection procedures and protocols for the early ID of the disease.

 It is also important to understand what to do when you are caring for patients associated with COVID-19.

What is Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)?

SARS-Cov-2, also known as COVID-19 and the Coronavirus, is an ongoing outbreak that has been identified globally.

This is not a new virus family, it’s symptoms are common. They have also been associated with SARS.

The incubation period lasts between 48 hours and 14-days. Severe respiratory illness is COVID-19’s most threatening symptom. Minor symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

Preparing and identifying cases is essential to prevent spreading COVID-19 throughout communities. As nurses, you will be on the frontlines of determining a person’s of interest (PUI), and treating those who are positive.

Additionally, As a nurse, you must be provided with a high level of protection in order for you to care for patients.

Prepare, ID, & Notify

General preparedness 101: wash your hands and keep your distance. Easier said than done when you’re a nurse. Your hospital/ place of employment needs to develop a telephone triage protocol so patients can access information from home.

Additionally, nurses should prepare by ensuring there are clearly displayed signage for patients on instructions of wearing masks, and directions to quarantine and screening rooms.

Make sure you know the infection control personnel where you work as well as both local and state departments. Scroll below to review our guidelines and the link to the CDC’s Patients Under Investigation (PUI) guidelines.

Isolate & Monitor

There are several steps for identification and maintaining as well as isolation and prevention of COVID-19 on the CDC website. Make sure your facility has a clearly displayed flowchart of early ID and assessment of Coronavirus.

Coughs and sneezes that produce respiratory droplets is the mode of transmission.

Ensure masks are available for all PUI before they enter the facility. Isolate the patient in AIIR or negative pressure rooms. Additionally, take precautions such as goggles or a face shield. Ensure you have PPE (personal protective equipment) before you enter the room.

Educate & Minimize Spread

As per the CDC, COVID-19 is a large family of viruses that can cause illness. It is spread via coughs and sneezes. You can also spread the coronavirus through touching your face after touching an infected area. 

Here are guidelines and tips you can educate and share within your community to minimize the spread of this virus:

  • Stay at home.
  • Call before visiting health care providers and follow the instructions.
  • Isolate yourself from other people in your home. 
  • Use separate bathrooms.
  • Wear a mask if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing items in your household.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Review updates.

CDC and Online Resources

The website is a great resource for every healthcare worker- including nurses. Among other articles, they have a criteria guideline for evaluating PUI for COVID-19.

In the guidelines above, there are recommendations for testing and specimen collecting. Here’s an important excerpt:

For initial diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, CDC recommends collecting and testing upper respiratory tract specimens (nasopharyngeal AND oropharyngeal swabs). 

CDC also recommends testing lower respiratory tract specimens, if available. For patients who develop a productive cough, sputum should be collected and tested for SARS-CoV-2. The induction of sputum is not recommended.

Meaning, screening is critical. We are at a time where there are several viruses that share similar symptoms with COVID-19. Knowing how to identify a PUI is critical.

In Summary

Protecting patients and practicing at the highest standard of healthcare procedures is what nurses do best. There are methods of reporting, testing, and collection available on the CDC website.

Your facility needs to have protocols in place. Patients that test positive for SARS-Cov-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19.

Take extra precautions when working with patients of PUI. COVID-19 is spread through the transmission of respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes.

Currently, we have no idea where this pandemic is headed. Fortunately, both the public and private sectors are coming together in harmony to ensure people are protected.

Personally, I am not a nurse, but I do commend those working in hospitals and as first-responders. Thank you very much for what you do. Your dedication to your practice does not go unnoticed. Be safe.

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About the author

Heather Burton

Heather lives with her husband and two children in beautiful British Columbia. Her passion has always been to enhance the lives of others by helping them reach their own personal goals and accomplishments. Content management is her specialty, and writing is what she does best. Her love for helping others lead her to the cannabis scene where she saw an immense gap between patients and medicine that can help them.

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