Standard Precautions Prevail During Superstorm Sandy
Before, during and after Superstorm Sandy hit the New York- New Jersey metropolitan area, nurses faced and met many challenges. The storm impacted nurses from all specialties: pediatrics, public health, acute care, long-term care, as we all scrambled to provide excellent nursing care AND take care of our families.
I noticed several observations about infection prevention practices during the week that I believe helped protect the staff and the patients.
Although I expected laxity with hand hygiene, I was pleased to see high compliance levels with use of alcohol-based hand gels. My local APIC colleagues confirmed the same degree of commitment to hand hygiene at their facilities as well.
The storm also reiterated the value of Standard Precautions when caring for our patients. The day of the storm I completed my basic routine tasks. That included looking for beds for patients on isolation and a cursory look at the micro report to see if there was anything of a public health risk. I then reported to the nursing office where I was assigned as a close observation aide for two male patients who needed assistance with physical care and supervision for safety reasons. Not a sophisticated assignment - but it helped the unit.
I missed the full report on the patients' conditions (the primary RN filled me in when he was caught up) but by using standard precautions, I safely gave AM care, checked vitals, adjusted the IV and foley tubing, and assisted with meals.
Toward the end of the week, I volunteered at a local shelter. I was pleased to see signage throughout the shelter alerting people to report fever and cough. There were signs reminding people to cover their coughs - and there were plenty of masks, tissues and alcohol hand gel to accomplish this. In fact, each staff member and volunteer got a personal size hand gel.
It was heartening to see that many basic infection prevention measures were applied and hopefully prevented additional misery from this disaster.
How did you fare during the storm? Any tips or experiences you can share?