It’s possible that we’ll be getting a second wave of COVID-19 cases as the weather gets cooler outside. Illness is already something that spreads around quickly during the latter months of the year, so not only will healthcare workers need to prepare for more people coming in with the virus, but they’ll also need to prepare for the unrelated illnesses and learn to differentiate between them all. It’s crucial to separate patients who have COVID-19 from those who do not, and in order to do so, practitioners will need to prepare themselves for the worst. This means that continuing social distancing, telehealth, wearing masks, temperature screening, and more will need to remain the norm for the time being to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Here are other ways practitioners can prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 this fall.
Stock Up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The last thing any healthcare professional wants is to be scrambling for personal protective equipment, or PPE. When the coronavirus first started spreading, a shortage of PPE was a major obstacle that practitioners faced because everyone suddenly needed the equipment at the same time. Learning from the past is the only way to move forward into a more prepared future, so it’s important to stock up on PPE now rather than waiting until the middle of the possible second wave.
A good way to do this is by maintaining a relationship with the suppliers of this equipment, as well as asking the local community for donations of homemade face masks, face shields, and goggles. Order the necessary equipment now, since many distributors are limiting the amount of PPE outpatient clinics can receive on a monthly basis.
Unlike back in March, COVID-19 won’t catch everyone quite so off-guard once the second wave hits, and healthcare professionals likely have a system in place to provide patients the best care they can. For the second wave, that system needs to stay in place and be maintained to a competent level. This means continuing with telehealth and virtual visits, actively communicating with patients, navigating around potential closures, and more. Doctors will especially need to learn how to assess asymptomatic patients through telehealth as flu season coincides with COVID-19.
These telehealth protocols need to be built for best practice if they haven’t already, and optimized if they already exist. Fear, finances, and similar motives might tempt people to return to in-office visits, but integrating digital healthcare into the norm will help combat the spread of COVID-19.