Considerations for healthcare providers in any healthcare setting

Submitted 4.27.20 by the Illinois Department of Public Health

How to leave COVID-19 behind when you come home

The CDC states that COVID-19 is typically transmitted through respiratory droplets. Providing patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic means you and your family are at risk for exposure. The ideas or recommendations below, are compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and describes how to limit the risk to your family as you return home at the end of your workday.

For the purpose of this document Healthcare Provider (HCP) includes, but is not limited to, emergency medical service personnel (EMS), fire fighters with medical response capabilities, law enforcement who respond and/or assist with EMS calls, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the healthcare facility, and persons not directly involved in patient care, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the healthcare setting (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel).

For the purpose of this document Healthcare Setting includes, but is not limited to, any location that provides medical assessment, diagnostic and/or treatment whether inpatient or outpatient. This can also include any pre-hospital settings where EMS or first responder personnel provide care, treatment, or transport.

Monitor your health
• Check your temperature twice a day and remain alert for respiratory symptoms. Be sure to contact your primary care physician and employer immediately if symptoms develop.
Prepare for work
• If not already, consider wearing scrubs or appropriate work wear every day. Always have a clean set ready.
• If you wear a white coat or lab coat, wash it every day.
• If you typically wear jewelry, a tie, a watch, or other nonessential accessories, leave them at home.
• If you have medium or long hair, wear it pulled back.
• If you wear contacts, consider wearing glasses to decrease the need to touch your face and to offer a barrier.
• Prepare clean clothes and shoes to change into after work. Take them with you if you can change at work.
• Remove nonessential items in your car, and stock the car with disinfecting wipes to make it easy to wipe down key surfaces after traveling home.
• If taking mass transit, have hand sanitizer available and use it after touching any surfaces.
Before leaving work
• If possible, shower and change into clean clothes and shoes before heading home.
• Put dirty clothes and shoes into a bag for soiled clothing. Consider using a cloth bag you can wash along with your dirty clothes each day.
• Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removing work clothes and before touching clean clothes.
When you arrive home
• If you were unable to change clothes before leaving work, change in an isolated location (e.g., garage, mudroom, laundry room).
• Do not wear shoes from work into your home. Clean them, top and bottom, with disinfecting wipes.
• Wash clothes worn at work using your usual laundry detergent.
• If possible, use the warmest water setting appropriate for the items and dry completely
• Wash or safely discard dirty clothes bag.
• Wash hands after handling dirty clothes and shoes.
• Shower before interacting with your family.
• You may choose to isolate, if possible, from your family to limit their potential for exposure:
o Consider identifying a room and bathroom to be used exclusively by you. Have another family member leave needed food and items for you outside your isolation area so that you don’t have to move throughout your home to meet your needs. Consider using disposable plates, cups, and utensils.
o If you are unable to use separate spaces from your family, attempt to maintain six feet from others in your home, and be sure to sleep alone.
Disinfect your home regularly
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics.
• Use disinfecting methods recommended by the CDC: