How Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Protects Patients and Team MembersPublished: May 5, 2020
By Alison Pondo
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Tampa General Hospital has implemented safety measures and protocols related to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) that align with CDC recommendations. As these guidelines have changed and updated, so have our protocols.
“PPE is used every day by healthcare workers to protect themselves, patients and others while providing care,” explains Angela Rumore, clinical education specialist at TGH. “It helps protect health care workers when exposure is anticipated or when needed for isolation patients to reduce the spread of infection in the health care setting.”
PPE can include a variety of protective equipment that can range from simply wearing a mask, to wearing a mask with full protective gear including googles, face shield, gown, gloves, hair cover and shoe covers.
All TGH team members receive the appropriate PPE that the care environment they are in requires. New team members go through extensive training from their first day at orientation on the specific sequences for donning, or putting on, and doffing, or removing, PPE to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
“Annual competencies regarding proper processes of donning and doffing PPE have already been in place,” said Kim Atrubin, manager of infection prevention at TGH. “We have been circling back with various departments that have requested additional education to ensure all team members feel safe and confident in their practices.”
Since Thursday, April 9, all team members and patients have been required to wear masks or face coverings based on CDC recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Upon entry to the hospital when they are screened for COVID-19, if a team member does not have a mask, they are provided one to use for the duration of their shift.
For patients and visitors to the hospital, masks must be worn any time they leave their room and walk around the facility. While they are in their room, masks are to be worn as much as possible and always when they have an interaction with a team member or provider.
The CDC recommends everyone two years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like grocery stores. Masks or cloth coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
When wearing a mask or cloth face covering to protect yourself, it’s important to:
- Not touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing your face mask
- Wash hands immediately after removing your face mask
- Be careful not to touch the front of your mask when removing it
- Wash and dry masks in a washer and dryer machine
- Remember that the purpose of a cloth or fabric mask is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent people who may have the virus and don’t know from transmitting it to others
If you have any questions, please call the TGH Helpline at (813) 844-8084.