The instances of COVID 19 are on the rise. Having to quarantine health professionals may adversely affect the healthcare sector.
The US is trying to contain the recent surge in COVID 19 cases. But the number of health professionals asked to go to self-quarantine due to exposure to an infected patient is increasing at an alarming pace. Vacaville, California is the place that documented the first instance of community transmission of coronavirus. There alone, more than 200 health professionals were ordered to self-quarantine making them unable to work for some time. Dozens of such instances have been reported throughout California. As on Sunday, there are 80 confirmed instances of coronavirus in the region. In Kirkland, Washington, more than 25% of the staff of the Fire Department was ordered to self-quarantine as they came into contact with a few patients in a nursing home.
Coronavirus Spreads, Quarantined Health Workers A Concern
With the confirmed coronavirus cases on the rise, the number of health staff ordered to be in self-quarantine is sure to leave hospitalized understaffed and overwhelmed. This has created a situation when medical fraternity ponders upon the standards to be followed when asking its staff to quarantine themselves. They are also deliberating on the safety standards to be followed in an emergency room or a clinic.
According to health experts, it is high time that they should change the norm. They cannot quarantine a health professional-just because of exposure to an infected patient. The healthcare sector is now in short of staff. Those showing signs of infection should definitely be quarantined. But it is not a must that they should quarantine those who have no symptoms. The right approach, according to them, should combine proper balance of science and the need of the healthcare sector functional.
It is true that hospitals should brace themselves for any emergency situation. Their plans, however, often fall short of an eminent health crisis. For them, it may not be something that demands priority. In the time period of 2003-2019, the federal funding for hospital preparedness has been reduced to half.
The coronavirus situation in Northern California became worse because the community spread of the infection caught hospitals unawares. The limited information on federal protocols with regard to diagnosis and other matters made it even worse. Things like are sure to happen at the start. Hospitals know only later that people were exposed to the infection.
The disease has started spreading in the community now. There is always the possibility of every patient with respiratory illness will be infected. Even then, health professionals know fully well that the probability is quite low. They always wear protective gear and follow stringent safety protocols. They expect the infections to decline gradually.
The case of Vacaville brings to light the fallout of the limited protocols CDC published. When a patient with respiratory illness was admitted, dozens of health professionals went in and out. Afterward, she was sent to another medical center. There also, some staff was exposed to the infection. This happened because the patient did not meet the criteria in place for coronavirus assessment. It took days for the medical center to get approval to test her for COVID 19.
As the patient tested positive, almost 100 nurses were ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks. And in the medical center where she was admitted, 36 nurses and 88 other workers were ordered to do the same.
The doctors are not used to such a situation. They never had to be concerned before they could test a patient for any other infection. It was only after Ebola epidemic that they learned that they should ask patients to wear masks all the time.
Doctors do their best to ensure that they are not forced to enter “that” room. Still, some have to be quarantined. Hospitals, at times, decline to give the proper estimate.