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How to Effectively Communicate Hospital Safety Measures During COVID-19

People are wearing masks when they leave their homes, hand hygiene is being adhered to like never before, and shaking hands has become a thing of the past. Worldwide, people are recognizing the need to adopt measures to avoid contracting COVID-19 — and rightfully so.  

The contagious SARS-CoV-2 that has swept across the globe has led to uncertainty and anxiety. Unsurprisingly, many are concerned about contracting the virus, becoming seriously ill, and passing it on to others.  

To combat these fears, Americans are by and large staying home. In fact, as of mid-April, only 16% reported going to work or school. And almost 75% said they’re going to keep up the habits they developed in quarantine, such as being extra careful about sanitation.  

Still, people are slowly returning to a new normal, which includes non-emergency hospital visits. In late April, states began to allow elective surgeries and nonessential procedures, leaving patients anxious to receive their long-awaited medical care — but potentially uncertain as to how hospitals are prioritizing their protection from coronavirus.  

Hospitals have always shouldered the important responsibility of keeping patients, visitors, and team members safe. Now, as many are experiencing a heightened sense of safety, it becomes even more critical for hospitals to communicate these measures both to team members and patients.  

Here’s how to effectively communicate hospital safety measures to ease anxieties and phase into the new normal of COVID-19.  

Start with Hospital Team Members 

Hospital safety relies on knowledge and adherence to best practices — which begins with people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital workers understandably have been feeling anxious about their own safety, which may leave them less able to quell the fears of their patients.  

While hospitals are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of everyone within their walls, team members need to be kept up to date on safety protocols. Otherwise, these measures do little to ease their anxieties, and that unrest and confusion can end up transferring to patients.  

On top of committing to thorough and regular safety training to keep up with changing protocols, daily huddles should become the norm. These will allow managers to disseminate important information, reassure their team, and motivate them to continue putting forth their best efforts.  

How Visibility Can Ease Anxieties  

Safety measures are purposefully weaved throughout a hospital’s daily practices and physical spaces. However, patients may not necessarily be aware of these stringent measures unless they actually see them in action.  

For instance, while cleaning and disinfecting should be amplified during this time, it’s also important that these processes are regularly visible. On top of this being considered best practice, it also means a patient is more likely to witness environmental services teams (EVS) performing their critical role, helping patients feel more at ease about their quality of care.  

In addition, handwashing and hand sanitizing stations should be commonplace. Not only will this reassure patients that everyone is practicing hand hygiene, but it also encourages patients and visitors to utilize them, which is one of the best ways to prevent transmission of COVID-19.  

Patients have a heightened awareness of safety right now. This means, in addition to being critical for everyone’s well-being, it’s important that team members adhere to safety protocols at all times, whether that includes wearing a mask, washing their hands, or maintaining distance from others whenever possible.  

The Impact of Written Communication  

Signs welcome and direct patients to where they need to go in the lobby, cafeteria and along hallways. During a pandemic, they can ease anxieties, provide comfort, and communicate exactly what they need to know regarding safety measures that are in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19.  

Topics for signs that may alleviate patient concerns include:  

  • Handwashing requirements

  • Social distancing guidelines and markers 

  • Face covering and mask requirements 

  • Capacity limits to spaces such as elevators or conference rooms  

  • Monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 

  • Safety rating scores 

  • Other safety protocols that have been put in place to keep patients safe  

Signs don’t have to just be informative — they can also serve as directions to make sure people adhere to safety measures. For instance, marks on the floor that signify where people can safely wait in line will ensure no one feels as if their space is being invaded while waiting for a meal or to check in for an appointment.  

COVID-19 has required hospitals to remain resilient and adapt to the ever-changing needs of patients during a pandemic. As restrictions are loosened and hospitals are able to offer more services, safety guidelines and communication will be key to easing patient concerns so they feel safe and ready to receive the care they need.  

Do you have questions about what protocols to put in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19? Learn more about Sodexo’s infection prevention.

June 05, 2020

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