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Healthcare workers put a lot on the line to take care of their community. They sacrifice valuable time with family and friends to work long hours at the hospital, and they put themselves at risk for the diseases they treat. Public health is reliant on the hard work of healthcare workers.

In order to keep healthcare workers protected from the diseases, infections, and viruses they come in contact with, they need to be equipped with effective personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is specialized clothing or equipment that protects against infectious materials. 

PPE, along with training, engineering controls, and work practice controls, is an essential component of safety and prevention in hospitals. It is a requirement for keeping healthcare workers protected from disease transmission. 

Are you wondering how to keep healthcare workers at your hospital or clinic protected without breaking the bank? Read on to discover affordable, essential solutions. 

Sneeze Guards

Sneeze guards are one of the best ways to keep hospital employees protected. Additionally, sneeze guards also protect other patients. When patients visit a hospital, they are often seeking treatment for an illness or disease. Sometimes, these illnesses are contagious. 

When patients wait in a waiting room with other vulnerable people and interact with hospital staff, they risk spreading contagious germs. That’s where sneeze guards come in to help. 

How do sneeze guards work?

Sneeze guards work by forming a barrier between two people. This barrier blocks any airborne particles from reaching the person on the other side. Made from durable, transparent plexiglass, these protective panels allow patients and staff members to interact and communicate as normal while still keeping them protected from airborne germs.

Waiting rooms are no strangers to the sounds of coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing, and talking. All of these things expel airborne particles into the air. These particles often attempt to make a new home in a new body. Keep your patients and employees safe and protected by installing sneeze guards in high-traffic places in your hospital, such as:

  • Reception desks
  • Between chairs in the waiting room
  • In examination rooms 
  • Between sinks in bathrooms
  • Nurse stations

Gloves

Gloves are PPE that protect against exposure to blood, bodily fluids, excretions, and secretions. They also are for use when handling contaminated equipment and tools. It is essential to maintain proper hand hygiene even when using gloves. The lack of proper hygiene poses the risk of transmitting infections to vulnerable patients. 

Before putting on gloves, healthcare workers should thoroughly wash and dry their hands. All cuts and broken skin should be properly covered. Healthcare workers should put gloves on immediately before they begin a task and remove them as soon as it is complete. 

Gloves should always be thrown away after they are worn once, and they should never get reused. Even though they are single-use, gloves are affordable and should be placed in many easily accessible places around the hospital. 

Gowns

Gowns and aprons are affordable, disposable PPE that are essential for healthcare workers who primarily work in:

  • Operating rooms
  • Maternity units
  • Emergency rooms

Gowns are designed to protect uniforms and clothing from getting soiled or contaminated by blood or bodily fluids. Gowns should be worn throughout shifts but they must be changed between patients. Additionally, they need to be changed between different procedures on the same patient to avoid contamination. 

Most often, plastic aprons are acceptable for standard precautions. But in cases where there is an extensive risk of contamination from blood or bodily fluids, healthcare workers should wear a long-sleeved fluid repellent gown. 

Healthcare workers should discard gowns immediately after use by removing them carefully and not touching the outer surface. All prep rooms should have a proper receptacle where gowns get discarded. Gowns should be stored in easy-to-find, clean storage areas. As with gloves, proper hand hygiene should occur before and after wearing a hospital gown.

Eye and Face Protection

Eyewear is PPE used to reduce the risk of interaction with chemical splashes, laser radiation, and airborne debris. There are a few options for eye and face protection:

  • General safety glasses: Minimum level of eye protection required for a laboratory. Recommended only for solutions that are not likely to cause eye damage. 
  • Chemical splash goggles: Recommended for use when there is a risk of chemicals or infectious substances splashing into the eyes. Can offer some protection against impact from debris.
  • Impact goggles: Used only to offer protection against airborne debris.
  • Laser safety goggles: Protect against harmful rays from lasers.
  • Full face shields: Often worn with chemical splash goggles to protect the entire face from damaging chemicals.

Personal glasses are not a valid substitute for PPE goggles and face shields. Goggles should always be decontaminated after use, and hands should be washed before and after use. Goggles are affordable because there are reusable options that can be washed and reused, rather than discarded after every use. 

Masks

Two types of masks: surgical masks and N95 respirators are the most essential masks to use in a hospital setting. This form of PPE provides protection from droplets entering the nose, mouth, and respiratory tract. All masks should be worn over both the mouth and nose for proper protection. 

Since public health is a large consideration across the country, all hospital employees at least wear surgical masks to help protect and stay protected from transmissible diseases. Surgical masks are single-use and should be discarded after use. Never reuse a surgical mask or leave it hanging around your neck or arm. 

N95 masks are the best option for healthcare workers who come in contact with contagious viral infections, influenza, measles, chickenpox, and more. These respirator masks need to be fit-tested to ensure a proper seal on the wearer’s face. They should be changed after every use. 

Equip Your Hospital Workers With PPE 

PPE helps keep hospital works and patients stay safe and protected from the diseases and infections that get treated. Keep your healthcare workers safe with protective sneeze guards and wearable equipment. 

If you need customized sneeze guard panels for your hospital or clinic, contact Barrier Lab today. We are here to help keep your hospital running smoothly.