Do your part!
By Gail Clifford, MD ~
During this Covid-19 pandemic, I suspect you’ve heard a lot about how limited the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is for health care providers.
They’re not exaggerating.
While we formerly used “single use” masks — like surgical masks — for one patient encounter, we now must use it, with a face shield, until it’s visibly soiled. Multiple sneezes do it (allergy season is upon us, after all).
Thus, we must use the same N-95 mask for every known or suspected case of Covid-19. The masks are “rested” — treated to UV light to kill any Covid-19 virus — and then returned to us five days later.
At about $6 each, N-95 masks are not cheap. But it’s the lack of access, not the price, that keeps hospitals from supplying us with new, clean ones each time.
It may sound like a small thing to you. It’s not.
The risks of re-using single-use masks has never been studied, and we’re doing the best we can to protect ourselves under the circumstances. Look at the numbers. On average, health care workers continue to make up 10% of the pandemic’s victims. It’s terrifying.
All we did was show up for work. And we’re targets.
That’s where you come in.
Wear a mask!
Any mask, even a no-sew one made from a bandana or T-shirt, is better than nothing.
When you wear a mask, you’re less likely to spread what you unknowingly have to those around you. And you protect yourself from large droplets when someone else sneezes.
And wash your hands!!!
Perhaps even more than wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, or using a hand sanitizer, will reduce the spread of Covid-19. It dies when exposed to detergent.
Any time you touch your face, especially your nose or mouth, clean your hands before you touch anything else.
We’re seeing this virus last hours on countertops, fomites (forks/spoons/pens), door handles, and elevator buttons. That means you can get Covid-19 hours after someone who doesn’t even know they have it called the elevator before you. Just by pushing the button.
It’s OK to wear gloves, but hand washing does suffice.
It is really brutal at the hospital. We must go through screenings to enter the building and pick up our re-treated N-95. I spend the day donning and doffing layers of protective equipment. It’s cumbersome, hot and inconvenient.
The N-95 protects medical workers like me from the virus, though wearing it for any length of time is hot and claustrophobic. But we make it work.
More importantly, it’s physically and mentally exhausting. But necessary.
In fact, everyone who enters our hospital, now, must wear a mask. Just because people don’t show Covid-19 symptoms doesn’t mean they don’t have Covid-19; we call these people “asymptomatic carriers.” That’s another reason why it’s so important that everyone — even if you don’t feel sick — wears a mask: To ensure you don’t spread the virus, if you have it; and to ensure you don’t catch the virus from someone who might.
At the end of the day, I have to change clothes, get home, drop my phone in my Phonesoap then shower before I see my family.
It’s true, I wear the mask outside, on the bike path or at the grocery store, to prevent you from getting whatever I picked up at work.
When you wear a mask, keep physically apart from people outside your household by at least six feet, wash your hands regularly, and remain mindful of your actions.
We will survive this pandemic if we all do our part of keeping each other safe.
*Phonesoap is a cell phone cleaning device that works via UV light which has been proven to kill the Covid-19 virus. They’ve offered a 10% discount if you use this link and use the promo/discount code FAMILY.