community health center staff

Keeping Community Health Center Personnel Safe during the Pandemic

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The pandemic posed serious challenges to health center personnel when it started over a year ago. Being a novel virus, health center personnel had to make decisions to mitigate its effects based on their limited knowledge about the disease.

Even as lockdowns were implemented in different parts of the country, the uncertainty of the situation weighed heavily on the physical and mental health of the frontline workers. While they had to take care of people who got infected, health personnel also had to protect and keep themselves healthy.

Protecting health workers was important to ensure the health system continues to function properly. This was particularly true in underserved communities that relied on community health workers for their health needs. Many of these community health center workers were undervalued and underpaid despite the huge contribution to their community when the pandemic started.

Even though the situation has improved over a year after the pandemic started, it’s still important for the community to keep these health center personnel safe to continue taking care of patients who get infected by the disease.

Provide PPEs

The first thing the community should provide is personal protective equipment or PPEs. These are necessary to prevent them from getting infected, which is even possible even if the health workers are already vaccinated. Even though the risk of getting infected by the virus is very small, it is still there. This situation is particularly true among health care personnel who work with patients who have the virus.

Due to this, it’s essential to give health personnel the PPEs they need, including masks, gloves, medical gowns, and face shields. They should also have a good supply of alcohol-based hand rubs or hand sanitizers. This simple yet effective equipment can spell the difference between getting infected and staying safe from the virus.

Give Them Other Medical Equipment

Aside from the PPEs, community health center personnel should also have testing kits to check if patients with the virus. This is particularly important if the patient comes in for a different concern aside from the virus. There are instances when they are asymptomatic.

Since health center personnel also handle other medical-related cases, they should also have other medical supplies and equipment that they can use for other illnesses and issues. These supplies and equipment include medication administration equipment, first aid equipment, respiratory equipment, and infant care equipment.

Providing the personnel with stainless-steel medical utility carts allows them to move supplies from one place to another easily. These carts are also designed to prevent medical supplies from falling, so it’s best to provide several in each community health center.

Redistribute Workload

Taking some load off the backs of health center personnel can also help keep them safe during a pandemic. When they have a heavy workload, they end up getting exhausted while at work. And in these instances, they make mistakes that can affect the health of their patients. The situation is also dangerous to their health. This is particularly true if they work consecutive 12-hour shifts.

To avoid this, community managers can redistribute the workload and ensure the health center personnel get enough rest before their shift. They even allow medical assistants to handle some tasks based on their ability and under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Additionally, community centers can also look for additional personnel who can cover the other shifts if the workload starts to become heavy for the existing personnel.

Take Care of Their Physical and Mental Health

Community managers should also look after the physical and mental health of the health center personnel. The pandemic had a significant effect on the mental health of everyone, especially the health center personnel who had to take care of the people who contracted the virus. Even with their PPEs, some of them have gotten infected by the virus.

Hence, they might feel vulnerable and have anxiety and depression. Some health workers in other countries even experienced insomnia. Others also experienced verbal harassment and discrimination as people were afraid of getting the disease. Some healthcare workers even experienced violence, especially among nurses.

The situation can take its toll on healthcare personnel, making it important for the authorities to keep them safe. Additionally, the authorities should develop a program to take care of the mental health of these frontline workers. They should support their mental well-being and ensure they get the help they need to improve their mental health.

Working in the healthcare industry can be challenging, making it essential to provide these workers with all the support they need to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.

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