Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.
Across the country, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are having to take extreme precautions to avoid infecting their family members. Hotel or home? Which will you choose when protecting your family from COVID?
When considering remaining at home, taking the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your family safe is paramount. Although there’s not an official list, there are a ton of lists circulating around. We’ve outlined our favorite with a few additions. It may be overkill, but better safe than sorry! For this concept, you’ll need a few pairs of street shoes and scrubs!
Since the virus has two main transmission routes: respiratory and contact, it’s best to leave any non-essential items at home.
Rather than wearing your scrubs to work, healthcare workers are finding it best to wear street clothes to work. They then change into their scrubs once they’re there, then back into the street clothes once their shift is over. They are finding this method is preferred to help keep the car itself clean. To do this, they are using the passenger areas of their vehicles to keep sets of clean scrubs. Their trunks are being used for items that are contaminated. The sanitizer kept near the driver’s seat for additional precautions. Clean shoes should be grouped and planned out for the week at the front door.
Unlike a typical work bag, the purpose of this bag is to help you decontaminate as much as possible before returning home. The kit includes one mini hand sanitizer, bleach wipes, and disinfectant spray. There should be a defined area for your badge and any other things you may need at work. Some healthcare workers are even keeping the money they can use at work in this bag, so it does not contaminate the money/cards they use at home. Trash bags kept in the bag for dirty clothes. Your ID badge and any money should remain in the bag for each shift. If you have a locker, the bag or kit can stay there; for everyone else, it should have a dedicated plastic bin in your trunk (see below).
Your car can be a spot that bridges the gap between work and home. Nurses all over the world are dedicating their trunk to COVID. Arming their trunk with a plastic bin for work shoes, bin for street shoes, bin for a work bag, and bin with additional cleaning supplies to use to wipe down their shoes once in the car. We’ll cover how the COVID trunk is commonly used in the post-shift step below.
You wake up and put on regular street clothes, grab a set of your street shoes at the front door and exit your house via your front door. You’ll then enter your car that’s parked outside. Once you arrive at work, you’ll need to grab your clean set of scrubs from the passenger side of your vehicle (the only time this door is used), and pop your trunk to obtain your bag/kit and change into your work shoes. Placing your street shoes in their dedicated bin.
Once you’re in the building, you’ll change into your clean set of scrubs and place your street clothes in a trash bag (using the bag roles kept in your kit). Your bag/kit is also where your badge is kept (if you need it to enter the building keep it attached to the exterior), so you’ll grab that now that your scrubs are on and you’re ready for your shift.
Now that your shift is over, it’s time to go home! The first step is to change back into your street clothes while you’re on the premises. Rather than changing immediately, use your bag/kit disinfectant to wipe down everything you can and place it in a separate area (phone, badge, glasses, etc). Remove your scrubs and put them into a new trash bag. Wash your hands and face then change into your street clothes. After this, it’s time to walk to your car and open your trunk. Your dirty clothes (still in the trash bag) will be placed in your trunk and dealt with at the end of the week, make sure you have room! Remove your work shoes and disinfect. Place your street shoes back on and clean those too. Disinfect your hands with sanitizer then close your trunk.
Once you’re in the car, use your hand sanitizer again and head home. Rather than entering the front door, park your car outside and enter through the garage. You’ll close the door and change here. Place your street clothes in a dedicated hamper, shoes in a dedicated bin, then washing your hands (or use sanitizer) again. The doors, if possible, should be kept open by your significant other (if you have one), if not, grab a bleach wipe and use that when opening doors. Remember, you just touched your street clothes that did make their way through the halls but were not worn for 12+ hours, so their contamination should be lower.
Once a week, depending on your schedule, you’ll need to go to your car, get your dirty scrubs and wash them, wash your street clothes, and decontaminate your street shoes so you can follow the steps again to replenish your stock.
Is this too much work for you? There are countless other methods nurses are using to make sure their home is safe from COVID. Many have been following similar practices for years to keep other infectious diseases away from their loved ones. So for many, the above (for the most part) was second nature. Additionally, some hospitals have opened up their showers to healthcare workers, and some are even providing laundry services.
Stating in a hotel mitigates these countless steps and additional hour plus of work, but you’ll have the ability to remain home with your family. There’s no way of knowing if the measures will work, so it’s a pro vs. con list you’ll need to consider. Currently, over 200 doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel are staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. So there are countless individuals choosing hotels and relying on facetime with loved ones as the alternative until this is all over.
“There is a tremendous amount of fear and guilt that we could bring this home and hurt people that we love,” said Jane Gerencser, a nurse who has been working 12-hour shifts tending to coronavirus patients at a Westchester Medical Center Health Network hospital in New York state. “We have had colleagues who lived with elderly parents, who unfortunately have gotten sick and have had their parents get sick and passed.” – Via Washington Post
The decision isn’t easy. Hotel or home? How are you protecting your family from COVID? Let us know in the comments below.
Preparing for the front lines? Visit our article on “What You Need to Know to Prepare for the Front Lines”
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