As Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc across the country, a severe shortage in supplies is becoming a major concern among healthcare workers. Without the necessary supplies such as sanitizers, gloves, and masks, it becomes exceedingly difficult to reduce the spread of infection to other patients and staff. Doctors and nurses nationwide are resorting to creating makeshift masks or reusing equipment in an effort to maintain infection control practices amid this crisis.
Last month Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), told Congress that the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile contains 30 million surgical masks and 12 million N95 masks, with an additional 5 million N95 masks that may have expired. With these numbers falling far below what could be needed as the outbreak worsens, hospitals are scrambling. Furthermore, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the majority of essential healthcare supplies used in the U.S. are obtained from foreign manufacturing facilities located in India, Russia, China, and Taiwan. This creates additional challenges with regards to receiving supplies in a timely manner.
During unprecedented times, thinking outside of the box can potentially mitigate these threats. Employing virtual patient observation solutions like NOVA (Nursing Observation and Virtual Assistant) by Wachter Healthcare Solutions can help healthcare professionals avoid overusing personal protective equipment (PPE).
Each time a nurse or a provider enters an isolation patient’s room they must wear appropriate protective gear. By placing a mobile cart with two-way audio and video capabilities in the patient’s room, a trained technician can communicate with the patient and assess their needs. Providers can also utilize this technology to assess patient statuses or to discuss treatment plans with patients remotely. The potential uses are vast.
Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even recommended that healthcare workers use bandanas or scarves as a last resort if traditional resources are exhausted.
"We need to be proactive and leverage technology like NOVA, which can prevent the need for inadequate and drastic measures. Relying on outdated methods contradicts the importance of advancements in healthcare technology and puts people at risk."
Ashley Kuruvilla, MSN, APRN, FNP-C,
Clinical Support Specialist
At Wachter the answer is clear: If we can help limit exposure to the virus and reserve healthcare supplies for essential use only, we can lessen the country’s financial burden and more importantly, save lives.