Author Dr. Atul Gawande Shares How Hospital's 75,000 Employees Stay Safe During Pandemic

You may remember Dr. Atul Gawande as the author of "The Checklist Manifesto" and "Being Mortal" books. He also writes articles for The New Yorker magazine, with his article suggesting hospitals could learn about operating efficiencies by mimicking The Cheesecake Factory gaining a lot of attention. The Cheesecake Factory has a menu with more than 200 items and still manages to get it right, day after day, in all of their locations, because they have a system to follow and accountability. Why can't hospitals do this, too, he asked. His checklist book also showcased how some of the most fatal mistakes at hospitals were because small items were missed.

This makes him a good resource to turn to for how to continue operating efficiently during a worldwide virus pandemic. In his recent article in The New Yorker, "Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reentry", he highlights how his hospital, Mass General Brigham, has managed to keep providing care, with precautions established, during the pandemic. They have a system to follow, even while being located in a hot-spot city during the beginning days of the virus.

Caregivers, too, have been the frontline workers, continuing to care for seniors in their homes during this time, while implementing safety guidelines. It will be important to combat the challenges of pandemic fatigue and learn the best strategies for staying safe as we all come out of the lockdown days. We will all need to keep our checklists to prevent becoming careless with safety measures.

What are the key takeaways from the hospital's coronavirus safety plan? Hand-washing! A 4-part strategy includes:

  1. Screening
  2. Hand-washing
  3. Social Distancing 
  4. Masks

Dr. Guwande notes that frequent hand-washing seems to be a reminder to maintain all of the additional safety protocols. As it is an interactive habit, it reminds you to engage in the other protocols - hands are washed, the mask is back, and keep your distance.

Caregivers arriving in a senior's home will wash their hands and be reminded that they are also wearing their masks and implementing all of their company's safety protocols. Caregiving training courses can be revisited for safe hand-washing tips.

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