A coalition of health care workers is demanding hospitals return masks, take other precautions amid fears of a holiday COVID surge.

Before the pandemic, Dr. David Alpern, like many health workers at the time, didn’t think twice about going to work with a runny nose or cough.

But because the symptoms of COVID-19 are no different from the common cold, a retired Cooley Dickinson Hospital internist is concerned that hospital workers with these mild symptoms could be spreading the coronavirus to patients.

Alpern’s desire for CDH and other hospitals to take stronger precautions this holiday season inspired her to speak Monday at the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity’s virtual press conference, where health experts advocated a return to universal mask protection in healthcare facilities. pre-admission testing during the winter season when viral infections are more common.

The Coalition for Health Equity presented three other policy proposals for the Haley-Driscoll administration to consider this holiday season, including universal disability rights, continued public education about COVID and free access to PCR and rapid tests, high-quality respirators and The COVID vaccines.

“Even asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID-19 cases can lead to an increased risk of more than 200 long-term health problems, including heart attack, stroke and neurological problems,” Alpern, of Florence, said in a press release and reiterated. the press conference. “Prevention of virus transmission in healthcare facilities is critical, which will include implementing comprehensive precautions to prevent the spread of aerosolized viruses and conducting mandatory COVID-19 testing for all incoming patients.”

In his experience, many of Alpern’s past patients tended to be older, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as a vulnerable population for long-term COVID. As the holidays approach, younger family members at low long-term COVID risk may be exposing their older relatives to the virus, especially since half of all COVID-19 transmissions occur from asymptomatic cases or before symptoms develop.

“The COVID is still here, it’s our eighth wave,” Alpern said. “People can choose to do what they want, but you can’t choose when you get sick and go to the hospital.”

The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2022, about 3.5% of Americans were dealing with long-term COVID, and adults ages 18 to 44 reported having trouble thinking and remembering after the pandemic began.

“Just as there will never be a good time to stop wearing gloves in hospitals, I can’t see why we shouldn’t continue to use a basic simple intervention that makes patients safer,” said Colin Killick, CEO. Director of the Disability Policy Consortium.

Patients seeking coronavirus precautions are having trouble getting them, according to those speaking at a news conference Monday. Jayda Jones, a member of the Coalition for Health Equity, said she is helping dozens of people file reasonable accommodation requests asking doctors and nurses to wear masks during treatment. Most of these requests are denied because the patients are not considered vulnerable enough to require precautions. Jones noted that patients with disabilities make a choice between delaying care or continuing treatment.

“Patients shouldn’t have to consider their risk of getting or contracting a hospital-acquired infection, and if they do, we know it’s because of the lack of protection we have in place to control infectious disease,” he said.

Currently, Cooley Dickinson Hospital does not require masks for staff members, but encourages employees to wear masks during cold and flu season. Bay State Hospital also does not require masks for healthcare staff, but does require testing for a number of high-risk departments, such as oncology.

“Covid-19 testing is not done on patients before surgery or procedures, but if they come in with symptoms, we do test,” Bay State spokesman Keith O’Connor said.

Theodore Pack, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, stresses the importance of wearing masks in hospitals as well. According to another study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a patient with an unknown case of COVID who receives treatment in a shared patient room, which is common in Massachusetts, increases the risk of transmission by up to 39%.

Pak notes that the number of COVID cases in the US is underreported and underreported due to a lack of pre-admission testing in hospitals. In the United Kingdom, data showed that one in seven patients contracted COVID-19 while in hospital at the peak of the epidemic. The rate of hospital-acquired COVID is 5% to 10%.

“For example, genome sequencing of the Brigham Hospital outbreak found that infections were occurring between workers and patients, even when both parties were wearing surgical masks,” Pack said. “So imagine what would happen without that layer of protection.”

Dr. Lara Girmanus, a professor at Harvard Medical School, noted that 50% of the public is concerned about the local outbreak, despite reports that the epidemic is over. However, without proper education and prevention, many people still have these concerns without having a way to express them.

“We’re here to make sure our health systems are safe and healthy for everyone, and that starts with making sure it’s safe and healthy for the most vulnerable,” Girmanus said.

Emilee Klein can be reached at eklein@gazettenet.com.

#coalition #health #care #workers #demanding #hospitals #return #masks #precautions #fears #holiday #COVID #surge
Image Source : www.gazettenet.com

Leave a Comment