By Deanna Leonard, Vice President and General Manager – Professional Healthcare Apparel
Encompass Group, LLC
We are all aware that COVID-19 has changed the bedside scenario dramatically. Due to the respiratory system effects of the virus, moving coronavirus patients became critical and much more frequent. Patient intubations also soared, and patients declined rapidly, requiring intense bedside care from overextended and exhausted physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.
However, there are tools to reduce the risk and stress of patient positioning for both the patients and their caregivers right now. For example, using the right care surface, making frequent small shifts in patient positioning and ensuring care teams have uniform apparel that supports their movement and comfort.
Consider the Added Complications of COVID-19
Some patients can move independently to prevent pressure injuries, but most individuals at a higher acuity will require assistance to alter the points where their bodies rest on the support surface. Besides turning coronavirus patients to avoid pressure injuries, placing them in a prone position often benefits their recovery – whether they’re on a ventilator or not. Although patients in respiratory distress have been positioned onto their stomachs in intensive care for many years, the practice of “proning” became widespread as medical teams determined that it could assist breathing in those battling COVID-19. For patients not already on ventilators, moving them from a supine to prone position has often delayed or completely avoided the need for intubation or care in the ICU, as found in hospitals such as Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
You or members of your staff have probably repositioned very ill COVID patients (who are unable to assist in moving) from back to front. Between the connections to devices and monitors, which may include a mechanical ventilator, along with the patient’s physical and mental states, medical personnel must be especially cautious and nimble in repositioning. These are the same caregivers who are physically and mentally overwhelmed themselves, pushed beyond their limits to care for surge after surge of coronavirus cases. Their safety in bedside care situations, whether emergent or routine, is not to be forgotten.
Start by Repositioning on the Right Surface, Even Small Movements
So how do you make shifts and turns efficient for both seriously ill patients and fatigued staff? We’ve found the ideal turning scenario for most patients requires the proper foundation. Our comfortable Airisana® support surface safely facilitates bedside therapies and positioning with lateral rotation, stable side perimeters and a supportive foam base. It requires fewer staff members to fully reposition a patient on the surface with bedside oversight and less physical stress.
It’s also an ideal surface for microshifts. While 30-degree lateral turns are considered routine inpatient repositioning, the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel (NPIAP) advocates for the benefits of minimal adjustments or microshifts. Even a two-to-five degree position change can significantly diminish or prevent pressure injuries in critically ill patients. Small, gentle shifts reduce disturbance to the patient and help avoid injuries of staff associated with the pulling and lifting necessary for more significant repositioning.
Then Add the Right Clothing for the Job
Better patient outcomes and satisfied care teams are also driven by how nurses and other medical professionals are identified and perceived and the ease with which they can perform their jobs. While uniform apparel increases professionalism and patient satisfaction, it’s important to consider the practical benefits for medical professionals who reposition patients and perform many other physical activities throughout their shifts. Besides surfaces that work with them as they turn patients, wearing the right apparel that supports constant movement makes their jobs easier and less risky.
Being able to stretch and move in all directions, often very quickly, is vital to those providing hands-on care. Caregivers should have uniform clothing that helps them do their jobs well without even thinking about it. They need functional apparel that fits correctly and offers multiple style options, like our Jockey® Scrubs. They allow caregivers to be fully present with their patients rather than struggle with uncomfortable or inflexible uniforms.
The Result: Better Bedside Care Experiences for All
Versatility is the name of the game in healthcare to accommodate every unique patient care plan. Healthcare providers can focus their efforts on what they do best when caring for patients on a customizable support surface and wearing high-performance uniform apparel. By empowering your healthcare heroes, you also increase the quality of patient care and satisfaction. You’ll undoubtedly see better care and satisfaction, driving better outcomes for those in the beds and beside them!