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Protecting Nurses from COVID 19

41% of Nurses have higher exposure to COVID 19

I enjoy being a nurse! It is a career that has given me so much joy. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, nursing has become a more challenging endeavor. I have learned many of my fellow nurses are suffering from all sorts of stress after taking care of COVID 19 patients who are incredibly sick. It is essential to minimize your exposure to COVID 19 to reduce some of the distress felt while caring for so many sick patients.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

How do you safely care for COVID 19 patients? As a nurse, you need to know your hospitals' policies and procedures and the CDC's clinical guidelines. There are many articles on treating patients with COVID, but not enough information on protecting yourself while caring for these patients. Knowing the policies will help you feel more secure and limit your health care for others.

COVID 19 spreads through large and small droplets in the air from one infected person to another person. This occurs through coughing, sneezing, or just breathing the air of a COVID positive patient. It helps to stay 6 feet apart and spend minimal time with sick individuals. This is impossible when you are caring for these patients as a nurse.

So let's talk PPE. Many jobs provide PPE Gear and offer training on how to put it on and take it off. I would ask your occupational medicine department about this to be fully informed of the procedure. Here is what I know from the research I have done.

1. Collect all the PPE you will need making sure you have the correct size gloves and gown etc. Find a clean room, not a patient's room, to don your PPE.

2. Wash your hands, sanitize your hands.

3. Put on your facility approved disposable isolation gown, get a coworker to help you tie it in the back if needed.

4. Apply your head covering, i.e., surgical cap, etc.

5. Put on your respirator mask. Be sure you have a NIOSH approved N95 face mask that you have been fit tested for. If you have gained or lost weight, please get re-fit tested. The fit test process will teach you how to properly wear the mask for maximum coverage. The mask should cover your mouth and nose.

6. Wear eye protectants. The eye protection may be goggles or an eyepiece that gives you maximum protection for your eyes. Still, unfortunately, some goggles fog up very severely.

7. Wear your face shield. The respirator gives you extra protection from particles that the facemask might miss.

8. Apply your foot coverings.

9. Put your gloves on, covering the wrist and the gown.

Removing PPE to Decrease Exposure

Remember removing PPE takes training and is just as important as putting on your PPE to prevent exposure. This is only one example of how to remove PPE, but there are multiple examples of removing the PPE.

1. Remove gloves. Try not to contaminate your hands while removing your glove. Use the glove in glove or bird's beak method and discard.

2. Remove gown. First, untie the gown or have someone undo it for you and remove the gown by reaching up to your opposite shoulder, pulling the gown off each side, and then rolling up the gown and discard.

3. Wash your hands thoroughly.

4. Carefully remove your eye shield and goggles and cleanse before reuse if necessary.

5. Remove facemask and discard.

6. Remove N95 respirator and discard.

7. Wash your hands thoroughly again and use hand sanitizer.

I would love to know what your experience has been with PPE. Feel free to leave comments below.

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