Infusion Clinics and COVID-19 Safety Protocols

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It’s all over the news, there’s a global pandemic going on and the number one message is to STAY INSIDE! Especially if you’re one of the at-risk demographics. These include the very young, seniors, and the immunocompromised. However, just staying home is not that easy, especially if you have a condition that requires you to visit an infusion clinic to receive your medication. 

This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is important that you continue to visit your infusion center during this time and keep up with your treatment plan. Discontinuing any medication without the supervision or instruction of your healthcare provider is dangerous, and could land you in the hospital, which is the last place you want to be right now!

So, what are infusion clinics doing to ensure the safety of their patients? What will a visit to your clinic look like during this pandemic, and what measures should you be taking to protect yourself?

Expect to be screened if travelling to a clinic

If you are expected to visit the clinic to receive your infusion, you will receive a call from a nurse to ask you some screening questions. This process is done to ensure you are not currently experiencing any symptoms, and to learn whether or not you have been travelling in the last 14 days. If you have been experiencing symptoms, you will need to reschedule your appointment. Click here to learn what to do if you are experiencing symptoms. If you have been travelling, the team will need to know so that they can implement additional safety protocols to protect themselves and other patients in the clinic.

Once you arrive at the clinic, a nurse will screen you a second time from a safe distance of two meters. This second round of screening is to ensure nothing was missed during the first call. It may feel a bit annoying but try to understand that this process is done for all patients and is a measure to protect you and others during this difficult time.

What are clinics doing to make sure they’re clean enough to be safe?

We’ve heard it a great deal recently. ‘We’re upping our cleaning standards in response to the virus.’ But what does that really mean? Well, rest assured, an infusion clinic’s cleaning standard is much higher than most other public places. In fact, they follow what is called the Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Guidelines for cleanliness.

These guidelines are a multi-chaptered document on several different cleaning and disinfectant protocols for anything medical. These are detailed best practices for operating rooms, infusion clinics, medical tools, surfaces, protective gear such as eyewear, masks and gloves, as well as surgical-grade protocols for hand hygiene.

To give you an idea of just how in-depth these cleaning protocols are, there’s an entire section that explains glove safety does not replace hand hygiene. Meaning your nurse is washing their hands, using a single-use set of gloves, removing them, then washing their hands again. And when a nurse washes their hands, they do a much more thorough job than you or I do! Any medical equipment, such a stethoscope, is thoroughly sanitized after each use and single-use tools are implemented wherever possible.

This is the standard for any infusion clinic, however, in light of the pandemic, additional protocols have been put in place called ‘droplet’ and ‘airborne’ protocols. These protocols are implemented in addition to the above-mentioned routine practices when there is a risk of infection from something as contagious as COVID-19. You can actually review the entire IPAC Guidelines on Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infections in All Health Care Settings here, for your own peace of mind, as it is much too in-depth and detailed for the purpose of this article. Just know that these clinics are taking this pandemic seriously and are likely some of the cleanest places you could be visiting at the moment!

What can I expect if I regularly receive medical deliveries?

You will continue to receive medication delivered to your home, however the delivery will be left at your door, and the driver will call you to let you know it has arrived. The driver will then wait to make sure that you or a family member comes out to receive your package. Make sure to disinfect and wipe down any deliveries brought to your home, no matter where they come from. And always thoroughly wash your hands after.

What can I expect from a home care visit?

If a nurse is coming to your home, expect him/her to be wearing extra personal protective equipment (PPE). Healthcare professionals who are making home visits will be wearing disposable paper gowns to further reduce the chance of spreading infection, likely along with eye wear, gloves and a mask.

Additional safety protocols

If you plan on travelling to a clinic, please come alone. Clinics are no longer allowing any non-essential visitors in, to do their part to maintain the social distancing guidelines implemented by Health Canada.

Anyone who works for an infusion clinic that has been travelling in the last 14 days are currently in self isolation, in accordance to the Government of Canada guidelines and local public health guidance. This includes any and all associates from the front desk to the nurses on the front line.

Do not stop your treatment plan

Once again, we urge you to continue to take your medications as prescribed and to continue your infusions as scheduled, unless you are showing symptoms or have been travelling in the last 14 days. For additional information on ways to protect yourself if you are immune compromised, check out this article on COVID-19 and the immunocompromised. Stay safe, and stay soapy!

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