Dialysis is a crucial treatment that must continue even in the face of COVID-19. At Eco Bear, we’re here to help you understand the precautions you can take and the disinfection measures you can use to ensure the safety of your employees and patients as much as possible.

All patients must be provided access to dialysis care as it’s a matter of life and death. Informing patients and staff of the precautions and measures to take will help minimize the risk of exposure and ensure that dialysis patients get the treatment they require. 

Facts About COVID-19

It’s important to understand the COVID-19 facts. This will help you put the proper steps in place that help keep everyone safe:

  • COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person with close contact. Observe social distancing of at least 6-feet whenever possible.
  • COVID-19 lasts on surfaces for hours and sometimes even more than a day. Frequently disinfecting commonly touched areas with EPA-registered disinfectants may help slow the spread of the virus. 
  • Anyone presenting symptoms should wear a proper face mask, but even non-symptomatic patients should wear one.
  • Not everyone shows symptoms of COVID-19, which is why keeping a social distance is crucial to reduce the spread.
  • Patients age 65 and older, those with chronic illness, a compromised immune system, or pregnant women are high-risk and should take extra precautions to reduce the risk of exposure.

Screening Patients Before Entry to Dialysis Center

Dialysis centers must closely adhere to all HIPPA guidance and practices, but should carefully consider their screening practices before allowing patients into the center. Determining a patient’s condition before bringing him/her into the center may help slow the spread of the virus. 

Prior to admitting patients, implement the following:

  • Ask all patients to self-monitor before coming into the facility. This includes assessing his/her respiratory health and taking their temperature. Any temperature above 100.4 should be considered a symptom and the patient should notify your center immediately. 
  • If a patient does have symptoms, ask that they notify you before coming in so that you can prepare for proper handling and/or send him/her to the proper facility if the symptoms are beyond what you can manage.
  • Ask all patients to wear a face covering with or without symptoms.
  • Have additional screening procedures either outdoors or in the waiting room prior to entry to the center. A qualified staff member should take temperatures and assess respiratory health, reporting any symptomatic patients to appropriate personnel right away.
  • Have at least two waiting rooms – one for symptomatic and one for non-symptomatic patients.
  • All staff members screening patients should have proper PPE if they aren’t protected by a screen or protective barrier
  • Create a quick and seamless screening process to limit the amount of exposure staff members have to potentially infected patients

Situation Waiting Rooms and Treatment Areas

Whenever possible, implement social distancing in all areas for both patients and staff. This includes symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients.

  • Symptomatic patients should be kept far away as possible from non-symptomatic patients, isolating them as much as possible
  • Any staff members coming into contact with symptomatic patients should wear proper PPE to protect themselves, including gowns if there will be extensive close contact
  • Non-symptomatic patients should still keep a 6-foot distance from one another which you can help by keeping the chairs in the waiting room to a minimum and ensuring a 6-foot distance
  • Staff members should keep a 6-foot distance from non-symptomatic patients whenever possible
  • Non-symptomatic patients should still wear a face covering

If the layout doesn’t permit you to separate symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients, consider asking symptomatic patients to wait outdoors (weather permitting) with proper social distancing measures or in their vehicle. 

Dealing With Symptomatic Patients

If your staff must treat a symptomatic patient, ensure that all staff members that will have contact are aware of the symptoms. Try to move the patient through the process as quickly as possible to avoid excessive exposure to staff members and other patients.

Once the patient leaves, use proper disinfection procedures to eradicate the virus from the premises. This includes all areas that are within a 6-foot distance of where the patient stood, walked, and sat for treatment.

If the patient touched any items in the facility, immediately disinfect them. If they can’t be disinfected, it’s best to discard them. Facilities should minimize any objects that can’t be disinfected to reduce the risk of exposure and waste.

Screening Staff Members

Don’t forget, it’s not just patients that pose a risk of spreading COVID-19; any symptomatic staff members must also take proper precautions. Consider the following:

  • Have all staff members self-monitor their symptoms especially before coming in for a shift. This may include taking his/her temperature before leaving the house as well as assessing for any respiratory issues including a cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Allow any staff members with symptoms to stay home without requiring a doctor’s note. With even one symptom, COVID-19 should be suspected and the situation treated as such. This includes allowing a 14-day isolation period.
  • Monitor staff members while at work including taking temperatures two times during the shift and assessing for any signs of respiratory illness.
  • Any staff members that present symptoms while on the job should be carefully and immediately isolated, limiting exposure to any other employees or patients. Affected staff members should isolate themselves at home (or with medical care if necessary) for at least 14 days which should include at least 3 days without symptoms.

Disinfecting All Areas

In addition to all of the precautions taken above, regular disinfecting is crucial. This includes all common areas, such as waiting rooms as well as treatment areas. Consider a plan that allows for disinfecting without patients around, whether that means spreading out appointments or dedicating certain employees to disinfection services immediately after each patient goes in for treatment. 

  • Ensure staff members follow all manufacturer’s instructions for proper use of disinfection solutions
  • Provide proper training for effective disinfection procedures including products to use and areas to disinfect at specific frequencies
  • Disinfection should occur when no patients are around to avoid cross-contamination
  • Focus on disinfecting all commonly touched objects as well as objects within 6-feet of patients, such as dialysis machines
  • Disinfect all commonly used items that can be laundered by washing them in the hottest temperature allowed and drying in high heat

If you have any questions about COVID-19, proper disinfecting procedures or you need help with disinfecting services, Eco Bear is here to help you through this difficult time. Please contact us at any time; our COVID-19 hotline is available 24/7.