COVID-19 IOP Emergency Plan

On Friday, March 13th, the President declared a national emergency related to COVID-19. The President asked each hospital to enact their disaster preparedness plan. Many of you have a part in this plan. Prior to the declaration, we had already put into place increased infection prevention practices. The American Association of Behavioral Healthcare has put out recommendations for IOP level of care during this time which we are adopting for our programs. The current state of uncertainty means our patients need us now more than ever. These practices can ensure that we continue to deliver care in a safe way to our patients.

In an effort to support your hospital’s disaster plan, effective immediately, we are enacting the following:

  • Screen (see questions below) all patients coming into our programs- every time, for individual, group, intakes, or any other reason. Take the patient’s temperature and vital signs, ask about cough, cold, and flu symptoms. Send them home and ask them to contact their PCP if they answer yes to any of the screening questions. Do not allow a person screening positive to remain in the program area.
  • Screening Questions
    1. Have you had a fever of 100.4 F or greater recently?
    2. Do you have a cough or shortness of breath at this time?
    3. Do you have other symptoms that seem like flu or pneumonia at this time?
    4. In the last 14 days, have you had direct, in-person contact with anyone who has had lab-confirmed COVID-19?
  • If a patient will use our van for transportation, the OPC/Nurse/Van Driver will need to ask the screening questions above and take their temperature prior to the patient getting on the van. If the patient answers yes to any of the screening questions, or has a fever, encourage the patient to contact their PCP. Do not transport the patient to the program.
  • All Psychiatrists/APRN visits will be done via telehealth to reduce the chance of infection spread from hospital to hospital.
  • All Regional Director and Clinical Team support will be delivered remotely to reduce the risk of infection spread from hospital to hospital.
  • Encourage patients to use hand hygiene frequently, reminding them to wash for 20 seconds. Have hand sanitizers present in all group rooms. As staff members, wash hands OR use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with each patient contact.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces (per your organization’s policy) after each group session. Do the same for transportation vehicles.
  • Because we serve vulnerable populations, if a patient is having symptoms and cannot attend, please call and check on the patient daily.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes and especially when your hands may be contaminated.
  • When feeling sick yourself, stay home and avoid close contact with others. Because not all people have the same symptoms, stay home if you are feeling ill at all.
  • If sick with symptoms of COVID-19, do not go to your workplace but seek out COVID-19 screening and testing.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze and strongly consider avoiding meeting with groups if you have an irritable, persistent, or compulsive cough.
  • Source: AABH Responds to Covid-19

Additionally, here are the items discussed last week for infection prevention:

  • Clean the van, including fabric surfaces, every patient transport day using the hospital approved product.
  • Non-needed personnel should limit their access to our program space.
  • Remove any tablecloth/coverings in our programs.
  • All tabletops should be cleaned with your hospital’s chosen sanitization wipe.
  • Our group areas should be cleaned (all surfaces wiped down) following each group day.
  • If we have pencil boxes for each patient, they should be wiped down at the end of each group day.
  • We should not have communal patient items. Each patient should have their own needed items- so no stress balls in the middle of the table that anyone can pick up; no cup of pens; etc.
  • Handwashing is very important. Now is a great time to have a nursing group on effective handwashing and hand sanitizing.
  • As always, our vital signs equipment should be properly cleaned between each patient following manufacturers suggested guidelines.

Thank you for all you are doing to provide care to our vulnerable population.