Updated March 26, 2020 5:00 PM
- COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus now spread globally.
- While anyone can be infected, most people experience mild symptoms and do not need a hospital.
- Symptoms are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
- People most at risk for severe disease are older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease.
- Multiple cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Kansas
- Sedgwick County Health Department is closely monitoring this issue and is coordinating with the state health department, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
- We anticipate more cases of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County in the coming days or weeks.
What Steps Can We Take to Protect our Pharmacy and Staff?
There are steps you can take right now that can help protect your pharmacy. Many of these strategies are the same strategies used every day to prevent the spread of common colds, influenza, and other acute respiratory illnesses. Build on your everyday practices to implement these strategies.
- Use calm and reassuring language when patients ask for information
- Have fact sheets available for patients
- Encourage patients to have appropriate medications on hand to treat viral symptoms so they will not have to go out if they develop COVID-19
- Establish a process for older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic health conditions to obtain medications without waiting in line
- Consider drive-through window or medication delivery if possible
- Report unusual patient complaints, surges in symptoms of fever, cough, or respiratory distress to the Sedgwick County Health Department at 316-660-7300
- Implement infection control procedures, especially for clinic waiting areas
- Provide a mask to customers who are coughing or sneezing.
- Make sure staff maintain a distance of 3 feet from asymptomatic patients and at least 6 feet from those actively coughing.
- Regularly clean and disinfect counters, waiting areas, and other spaces where public interaction occurs with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Clean at least every hour or after every 10 patients, whichever is more frequent.
- Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer next to the checkout window so people can sanitize their hands after using common items, like the pen used to sign for prescriptions.
Additional Measures Your Pharmacy Should Implement
- Post signs at the entrance asking people not to enter if they have symptoms of respiratory infection. Instead, ask them to use the drive-thru if available
- Post signs throughout the facility, encouraging hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (cover your cough and sneeze), and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. Post materials in the languages used by the populations you serve. Print materials are available here on the CDC website or from the Sedgwick County Health Department
- Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer at all entry points and key points in the pharmacy
- Create a daily cleaning schedule so staff are regularly disinfecting touched surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, bathroom fixtures (sink handles, toilets), countertops, work stations, tables, and chairs
- Keep pens for clients separate from your own and clean them daily
- Staff should monitor Sedgwick County Health Department and Kansas Department of Health and Environment websites (see online resources below) to understand COVID – 19 activity in their community.
Business Continuity of Operations Plans
- Develop or review business continuity plans for how to keep critical services going if staffing levels drop due to illness or taking care of ill family members or friends or children that may be temporarily out of child care or school settings.
- Be prepared to change your practices as needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., prioritize clients or temporarily suspend some services if needed).
- Ensure you have adequate supplies of soap, paper towels, tissues, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and garbage bags. If possible, a supply of disposable gloves and paper facemasks may be useful if persons become ill while at your facility.
- You can find more information on organizational preparedness on the CDC website
Prepare Staff, Volunteers, and Clients
- Ensure sick leave and other absence polices are in place to support staff to stay home if needed
- Do not require a healthcare provider’s note as this will place more stress on the provider’s office
- Share information on continuity planning with staff and volunteers
- Have facemasks ready if patients/customers are coughing or showing signs of respiratory illness
- Do not offer facemasks for every member of the public
Sedgwick County Health Department: https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html
Kansas Department of Health and Environment: http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/index.htm