The health and safety of our staff, patients and community are of the highest priority and Hospice by the Bay is committed to actively taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus) including:
- Screening all patients on service with Hospice by the Bay and complying with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and local Department of Public Health offices in our region to implement the latest guidelines for screening, isolation, and testing.
- Strongly encouraging folks to prepare for the next phase of this crisis, which will likely involve both community transmission and state/local government actions, such as school closures or movement restrictions. While the overall risk of transmission remains low, we recognize that the risk is increasing and recommend taking preventative measures to ensure safety.
- Planning for the possibility of staff members being required to work from home/limiting traffic through the Hospice by the Bay offices, thus decreasing the risk of transmission.
- Bench-marking (and working directly with) other healthcare organizations, including UCSF Health, as well as regional Departments of Public Health. We will continually be reassessing the situation and adjusting our strategy accordingly.
Below are some frequently asked questions many have about how HBTB is responding to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.
What kind of precautions should I be taking?
Beyond travel restrictions, the best preventative measures to take are the same as with the common cold or the flu:
- Wash your hands frequently (after traveling on public transportation, before and after eating…)
- Cough/sneeze into your elbow, not your hand
- Arrange with your manager to work from home or take sick time as appropriate, if you have symptoms
See more: CDC Prevention Guidelines
Do we stock masks in each office for families or caregivers?
One challenging aspect of this crisis, as you may have read in the news, is the fact that the supply chain for personal protective equipment has been disrupted. As such, we are very closely rationing all personal protective equipment and reserving them for high-risk clinical situations. There are basic things you can do to prevent infection, such as washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, maintaining a 6-foot distance from patients showing infectious symptoms, and wiping down surfaces with antibacterial wipes.
As the shape of this health crisis expands, how are we thinking about precautions for each affected county and each HBTB office?
We’re evaluating quarantine protocols on a by-location basis, focusing not just on headlines, but on the underlying data. We are also factoring in our specific risk factors at HBTB, including company locations. We use all of these inputs to make informed risk assessments for each of our offices, and we will continually be reassessing the situation and adjusting our strategy accordingly.
What about the people being treated at Bay Area hospitals? Is this a risk?
There are people being treated for coronavirus at Bay Area hospitals (including UCSF and a hospital in the area of Travis Air Force base, where returnees from Wuhan are currently quarantined). Hospitals and their employees have been preparing to manage the treatment of coronavirus for weeks now, and we don’t believe the treatment of cases in the area is impacting risk for our employees currently. We are closely monitoring the situation as we expect this will change in the coming weeks.
If the risk is still low in my area, why are you suggesting I start accumulating supplies?
Being over-prepared is better than being under-prepared, and preparing before you absolutely need to allows you to avoid competition with all the late-preppers. The earlier you get it done the easier it is, and the less stress you’ll feel. Additionally, the supplies we’re suggesting you stock up on are supplies you should have on hand anyway in order to effectively weather any regional disaster.
What supplies should I start putting together?
Ready.gov has a good list to use as a starting point for building a disaster supply kit. This basic kit is designed to help you self-sustain for 3 days post-disaster (storms, earthquakes, etc.) until the government and aid workers can get help to you. Unlike natural disasters, outbreaks tend to have a longer-lasting impact due to recommended or mandatory “social distancing” (self-quarantine). This can last for 30 days or more. As such, we encourage you to plan to self-sustain for at least 30 days. If you build this kit, you will not only be preparing for its potential need because of COVID-19, but future emergencies as well.
What other lifestyle changes should I be making to keep myself and my family safe?
It depends. Essentially, you should decide on the appropriate risk posture for you and your family based on your personal situation. For example, mortality rates for COVID-19 are highly correlated with age—the older you are, the more dangerous it is. They also increase for people with compromised immune systems (respiratory disease, cancer, etc.). So if you live with someone in their 80’s, you might want to take a more conservative stance, such as limiting personal travel, or not going on a cruise.