How to Create an Infectious Disease Response Plan

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. is growing by about 200 new cases an hour, as of March 20. As that number continues to surge, it’s clear that you need a plan to cope with this pandemic. In addition to following rapidly changing state and local guidelines, the March 18 CDC recommendation to postpone routine dental and eyecare visits added new challenges to eyecare providers.

Tip: In light of many local regulations of COVID-19, Shamir will be offering a series of webinars over the coming weeks to cover you and your staff’s E-learning and online training needs. Register here for more information.

17,000the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. to date

That recent recommendation states that, “Health care facilities and clinicians should prioritize urgent and emergency visits and procedures now and for the coming several weeks.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of you have already closed or at least limited patients you’re seeing. Many more of you are still weighing your options. 

Regardless, it’s quickly becoming clear that all businesses, especially those in the healthcare arena, need to create, and put into place, an infectious disease outbreak response plan. To help, we’re sharing the most up-to-date recommendations from the CDC on what to include.

THE PROCESS

The CDC shares a few tips on the process:

• Make sure the plan is flexible

• Involve employees in its development and review. Then add or correct as needed.

• Share it with all staff and specify what resources will be available to them in the short term.

THE PLAN

Here we’ve assembled recommendations from a multitude of sources for creating your own Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan:

• Identify risks by referring to OSHA information on how to protect workers (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/)

• Be sure your policies are in sync with current workplace laws, in addition to local regulations. For more information on employer responsibilities, visit the Department of Labor’s website (https://www.dol.gov/coronavirusthehttps://www.dol.gov/coronavirus) as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s site (https://www.eeoc.gov/).

• Though this is tough for eyecare facilities and requires out-of-the-box thinking, some degree of teleworking needs to be part of your plan. A slightly easier step to implement is staggering hours to minimize contact between employees and between staff and the public, while also keeping your services up and running. This part of your plan will likely require adjusting your infrastructure.

• Make sure social distancing is integrated into your plan…both in terms of internal (staff) and external (patient-staff) interactions.

• As absenteeism will become more an issue, detail what your essential business functions and roles are, along with key supply chain communications requirements. Who can do what? And, cross-train before it reaches emergency proportions.

• Prepare for the possibility of a period when you may not have access to some of your  suppliers’ goods and services.

• Set procedures for how to trigger your infectious disease outbreak plan. Be sure to communicate this to key members of your team.

• Prepare for staff confusion and concern.

• Plan for more staff needing to remain home with out-of-school children and family members who become ill.

STAFF EDUCATION

Most important, stay on top of changing conditions and recommendations…both federal and local. The best resource will be the CDC. Its site: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/covid19.

In light of many local regulations of COVID-19, Shamir will be offering a series of webinars over the coming weeks to cover you and your staff’s E-learning and online training needs. For info and to register, go to www.shamirlens.com/webinars. Topics this week include webinars on Shamir Glacier Plus UV, plus two ABO courses: Dispensing to the Generations and How Important Are the Measurements You Take?

Tell us what you’ve done in your practice to help educate staff about this national emergency and share in the conversation on Facebook here.

Erinn Morgan