Healthcare organizations across the U.S. are starting to resume activities, whether that means reopening their practice or resuming elective care procedures. But that doesn’t signal that the COVID-19 crisis is over. In fact, experts anticipate that the U.S. will continue to see the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months. As healthcare facilities work through welcoming back patients, it is critical that they don’t lose sight of properly managing regulatory compliance that help keep staff and patients safe.
Easy enough to say it, but knowing the right approach to take can be a challenge. As the last few months have proven, organizations must be flexible and evolve their processes as experts learn more about the virus and how to limit its spread. To make the transition smoother, we have compiled a list of best practices to leverage when managing compliance during the new normal.
Determine Your Waste Disposal Strategy
Proper coronavirus waste handling and removal is another element in a sound reopening strategy. With the continued transmission of COVID-19, it is important to check with state requirements and take the proper steps to ensure you are appropriately managing waste . As testing for COVID-19 expands, healthcare facilities and consumers should have a reliable partner to ensure they’re safely and securely handling testing materials and disposing of them in a way that protects their communities.
While most healthcare providers are accustomed to handling and disposing of PPE, the policies around disposal may have changed over the last few months, and staff should be informed of how any procedures should change.
As staff disposes of any type or regulated waste, they need to know when, where and how to do that. Segregation posters should be placed near disposal containers providing reminders on proper waste segregation. Labels, signs, and other indicators around the facility can also offer subtle reminders to staff to follow protocol or policies that may have changed in recent months.
Ensure Employees Have Completed Compliance Training
It is important as new staff are onboarded or as staff return to work, that they are being vigilant about following the proper waste disposal requirements. For facilities that may have been closed for a period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic, refresher training on regulations and best practices for disposal of biohazardous waste, sharps waste, controlled substance, or confidential information could be beneficial.
The next step is to make sure your staff are trained or re-trained on workplace policies and procedures. In many cases, staff have been away from their facility for months and may benefit from refresher trainings on OSHA safety, HIPAA privacy and other compliance-related training. Additionally, providing staff with an assortment of resources that they can use to brush up on regulations and best practices reduces the risk of non-compliance later on.
Create a Patient Communication Strategy
It’s also important to communicate whatever protocols you’re following to your patients. If you require patients visiting your office to wear masks, let them know that ahead of time. If there are special disposal areas for used PPE, well placed signs for where to do so will help them easily comply with your processes.
In all communications and as patients enter your office, be sure to mention any additional training your staff has taken around COVID-19, and specifically how your organization is addressing infection control, waste management, and confidentiality.
Our Own Commitment to Workplace Safety
At Stericycle, we are constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and remain in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulatory agencies about current regulations and recommendations.
These are strange and unprecedented times, and we are all in this together. By staying abreast of evolving requirements; offering reliable waste management advice and solutions, and ensuring sound infection prevention processes that protect your staff as well as ours, we can serve as a valued partner in navigating a new normal.
For more information on our COVID-19 efforts, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Knowledge and Resource Center.