How to Make Waiting Areas in Healthcare Facilities Safe

Clean Hospital Waiting Area

COVID-19 has shifted the way most companies conduct their operations. With health at risk, most industries have reevaluated their current maintenance practices and have put a premium on the safety and well-being of their employees and customers. This statement rings the truest for the healthcare sector. 

Healthcare facilities, without a doubt, are areas that carry a high potential risk of transmitting COVID-19 and other pathogens. Whether you are running a testing center or an aged care facility, making sure that every square inch of your workspace is equipped with a level of protection against germs should be a priority. After all, you don’t want your already compromised clients to leave your facility sicker than when they arrive. The last thing you need is for your business to experience another shutdown. 

Proper Building Care: Ensuring the Safety of Your Waiting Room 

Safety precautions should start well before a customer enters an examination room. Protocols should start in the waiting room. To protect your facility from being a hotbed of disease, ensure proper building care, and take note of these guidelines below:

Develop New Safety Policies

Truth be told, COVID-19 has ushered in a new normal. This means your safety policies are no longer enough to safeguard the wellness of the people that go through your facility. A formidable threat calls for formidable guidelines. 

It is high time to reevaluate the cleaning and maintenance regulations that you currently have in place. Ask your employees and maintenance personnel for suggestions and do your own research. Make sure that you are up-to-date with current COVID-19 and OSHA workplace safety guidelines. If there is space in your budget, hire professional cleaners to evaluate your space. They can guide you through making new maintenance policies. 

Maintain Your HVAC System 

There is still much that is left unknown about COVID-19. However, at present, it is believed that the virus is airborne. This means that it can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. 

It is important to improve air quality in your waiting room in order to minimize the effects and halt the spread of pathogens including COVID-19. Check your HVAC system and make sure it is in tiptop condition. 

Limit the Number of Patients 

Based on the last few months, there are two simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 –  frequent and proper handwashing and maintaining social distance. 

In order to abide by social distancing regulations, it is best to keep the number of patients in the waiting room at a minimum. The total number of people depends on the size of your waiting room. 

Look into Contactless Registration 

Reducing wait times through contactless registration is an effective means to implement social distancing in your facility. Allowing your patients to set an appointment online can keep face-to-face interactions at a minimum. 

There are digital apps that can provide you the means to set-up digital registrations. While they are an expense, these technologies can be used beyond the current pandemic. 

Rethink Your Waiting Room Layout

One of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of pathogens in your waiting area is through reconfiguring the room to accommodate for social distancing. Social distancing guidelines dictate that people should be at least six feet apart. In order to avoid confusion, mark the seats that can be occupied. If you can, remove additional seating options. This would discourage patients from lingering in the waiting room well before their appointment. 

Keep Sick Patients Separate 

It is best to separate patients that are suspected of COVID-19 to halt the spread of the disease. Likewise, it is best to have a different area reserved for clients that are immunocompromised. This way your facility doesn’t expose them to pathogens that can worsen their conditions. 

If you do not have room in your facility to divide patients accordingly, you can schedule visits in rotation. Assign different time slots for “well” patients and “sick” patients. 

Make Hand Washing Facilities Accessible

Again, proper handwashing can significantly lower a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19. The operative term, however, is proper. Clean water and soap should be used and the whole process should take at least twenty seconds. 

To encourage this habit, assign handwashing terminals throughout your facility. If you can, provide visual instructions on how to hand wash properly. Doing so would enable your employees and clients to wash their hands without any hassle. 

Impose a Strict Maintenance Schedule

For the most part, COVID-19 spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or excretes his or her respiratory particles onto another person. However, the virus can also stay alive on surfaces for a couple of hours. 

It is best to make sure that high traffic areas are wiped down periodically. Create a schedule for your maintenance team. This schedule should include mid-day cleaning.  

Hire Professionals for Deep Cleaning Services 

Aside from daily maintenance, it is also a good idea to opt for the help of professionals when it comes to your deep cleaning needs. Depending on the company that you opt for, a deep cleaning service may include carpet maintenance, HVAC cleaning, and window cleaning treatments. 

During this time, a deep cleaning appointment every few months, instead of once a year, should suffice. 

Choosing the Right Company for Your Healthcare Cleaning Needs

Not all cleaning companies are created equal. Especially if you are running a healthcare facility, there are factors that you should consider when hiring the right cleaning team for your business. 

For one, cleaning a healthcare facility is a different ball game than regular commercial cleaning. Between noxious wastes and stringent health requirements, it is best to opt for a company that specializes in this type of service. 

Ask your peers for recommendations and start your search there. If, despite your diligence, you strike a deal with a company that doesn’t meet your needs, do not be afraid to terminate their contract. After all, if there is a lesson that is to be learned from the pandemic, it is that health is wealth. 

In these trying times, you can never be too cautious. For healthcare facilities, safety starts as early as the waiting room. With the tips above, you can ensure that you, your employees, and your clients remain healthy and COVID-19 free.