You can’t go far in the past few weeks without hearing something about the current coronavirus outbreak, or specifically the COVID-19 virus. And while each is unique, you can likely remember a list of outbreaks and epidemics in years past, from Zika to swine flu to SARS.
In addition to considering your health and safety, as well as your loved ones’, it’s your job as an operations professional or facility manager to promote the safety of the facilities and communities you serve.
That’s why we want you to feel as prepared as possible for a potential outbreak, so you and your staff can respond appropriately, prioritizing health and safety.
Here’s what we know about the outbreak according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
An outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread throughout China and to more than 75 countries and territories (view an interactive map of cases)
COVID-19 appears to spread through respiratory transmission, person-to-person
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath
Those at most risk seem to be older adults and people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems
Prevention and planning are key as this outbreak is spreading, especially since you are the stewards of the infection control in your facilities, whether a school, local government, senior living, healthcare or manufacturing facility.
Just like any natural disaster, an outbreak or possible pandemic requires a documented plan that you can use to keep your staff and others safe.
Make sure you have documented plans for prevention and response protocols and that these are up to date, as thorough as possible and easily accessible by those who need them.
And make sure those on your emergency response teams are on the same page and prepared to act.
Develop a communication plan to share your response and prevention plans with your stakeholders, whether patients, family, residents, etc.
Your staff should already be promoting infection control practices, but now is the time to take an in-depth look to make sure your efforts are thorough and consistent. Make sure your training is comprehensive across departments and staff members know how promote prevention. You should also have a good pulse on your supplies and inventory.
This is even more critical for your cleaning, janitorial or housekeeping staff. Ensure they have the direction and tools they need to do their daily cleaning tasks even more thoroughly during this time.
The CDC offers these general prevention tips:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Stay home when you are sick
Cover your mouth when you sneeze
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
On the maintenance side, proper ventilation and HVAC maintenance is an important part of infection control and should be prioritized at your facility.
Get some extra cleaning tips in this podcast episode.
Now is a very important time to ensure your cleaning, maintenance and compliance measures are in full effect, but also that you’re documenting every task in detail.
You can do this right within your CMMS, so empower your cleaning, maintenance and facilities teams to be extra precise about their documentation, notes and completion of tasks. This will help you promote health and safety measures, as well as show your processes around doing so, to others in your organization or outside of it.