Better Protection from COVID Needed for Providers

Kristy Warren: “We need to do everything we can to help protect our providers when performing these aerosol generating procedures. And subsequently those providers that enter the room or exit the room after these procedures have occurred.”

Protecting our frontline healthcare workers has been a major concern throughout the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. If infection preventionists and other healthcare providers on the frontlines lack protection and have to be quarantined (or worse) because they’ve gotten COVID-19, the strain on the healthcare system becomes even more onerous. Kristy Warren, the director of clinical resources for Encompass Group, a company that bills itself as a leading manufacturer of innovative single-use medical products, says that the classic modes of infection prevention might not work against aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 particles. “The COVID-19 viral particle is extremely small at around point 1 to 5 microns or less in our filters,” Warren tells Infection Control Today®. “And our masks that we have do a good job at protecting us, but they’re mostly limited to particles that are point 3 microns or larger.”

Aerosol generating procedures include intubation, extubation, bronchoscopies, GI procedures and even EKG scopes. “Anything that would be an aerosol generating procedure puts the healthcare providers at greatest risk,” says Warren. “We may need to add some additional barriers when we’re doing these procedures. Not to mention when we’re doing these procedures, we’re also in very close proximity to the patient’s face, if not inches from the patient’s airway. And this is why the virus is so dangerous.”