Prevention Tips: Transitioning from Work to Home
Monday, March 30, 2020
Posted by: Laura Lang
By Serena Bumpus, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
As health care workers face more and more exposure to COVID-19 through their work, nurses have voiced concerns about transmitting the virus to others after having cared for an infected patient. Clinical attire has always had the potential of harboring germs, but we have become accustomed to a rather casual approach to this potential, as it wasn’t unusual to see nurses and others in scrubs at grocery stores and elsewhere.
The advent of COVID-19 introduces the opportunity to reconsider how clinicians can best prevent their transmission of infectious agents, such as coronavirus, outside the clinical environment. During these uncertain times, and with the unpredictability of COVID-19, it is important to take additional steps after your shift to prevent spread of the virus to family and friend.
As much as possible, maintain your scrubs, shoes and equipment outside of your home, create safe zones within your home and use extra precautions when actively caring for patients with COVID-19.
- If able, shower and change clothes before going home. Take clothes home in an impervious bag to launder.
- If your workplace lacks facilities for changing and showering, remove your scrubs before entering your living space and place in an impervious container (e.g. plastic bag). This could be in your garage, mudroom or a location near the entrance of your home that is a designated “hot zone.” Do not walk through your home wearing the scrubs you wore during your shift.
- Wash your hands after handling your dirty scrubs.
- Remove work shoes before getting into your car and walking into your home.
- Keep your work shoes in their own plastic tote or bag to prevent them from touching anything. Leave them at work if possible.
- Wash your hands after handling your work shoes.
3. Home Environment
- Create a plan with your significant other and children that includes how you plan to interact with one another if you have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
- Identify a room in your home where you can self-quarantine away from others. Ideally this room will be where you will sleep for the duration of the quarantine.
- Plan for family meals while maintaining distancing of six feet or more.
- Minimize areas of contact in your home and have a plan for cleaning and disinfection.
- Utilize paper plates and plastic forks to decrease the risk of contamination or wash your own dishes during this time.
- Ideally, wear disposable gloves and discard after each use. When using reusable gloves, only use those gloves for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces potentially contaminated with COVID-19. Do not use them for any other household purpose. Wash your hands immediately after using the gloves.
- Do not shake dirty laundry. Shaking the laundry carries a possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
- If possible, use the warmest water setting on your washer and ensure items are dried completely afterwards.
- Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
- If you aren’t using gloves when handling dirty laundry, be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
- If possible, consider using a separate hamper for your personal laundry or lining your hamper with a bag liner that is disposable or can be laundered. Otherwise, ensure the hamper itself is washed and sanitized.