Jones-Harrison infection preventionist: ‘We’re going to have to bundle our care’

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Barb Joyce, infection preventionist, Jones-Harrison senior living 

We figured out how to get testing. The Department of Health said the swabs I use for influenza will work. They told me they have enough tests available and if I were to submit, I’d go to the top of the priority list.

I’ve been able to take the weekend off, and no one has called me from work, so I’ve been sheltering in place and getting a lot done in my house.

I’m a little concerned with some of the social media calls for people to make their own masks and President Trump’s comments discouraging health care workers from throwing away masks. I’m concerned that the surgical masks we have that are single-use masks, which have some filtration, are going to be replaced by a piece of material. People have been saying, “Put a bandanna on.” But that’s not, in our opinion in the health care industry, a safe product.

The CDC says as long as you have a surgical mask on the patient and a mask on the health care giver, that should be good enough. We’ve been conserving our supply of surgical masks, and I have a good quantity that should get us through the first round.

I’m a little concerned the stockpile is not as much as I hoped it to be and we’re not going to have the gowns and the masks. If it hits and hits hard, I’m a little nervous I’m not going to get my supply back in.

Every time we go into the room, we’re going to have to gown, glove, mask and put a shield on our eyes. And every time we leave that room, we have to throw those away, because they’re not reusable when you’re working with a contagious germ.

We’re going to have to bundle our care — go in four or five times during a day — and do everything we can while we’re in the room. I have about a week’s worth of supply for, at the most, five patients. But if I don’t get more in, I have no idea what I’m going to do. It’s going to be challenging trying to limit our supplies if the virus comes in our door.

The Department of Health knows of two nursing homes in the state of Minnesota that have had positive testing and were able to contain it. If we identify it early and contain it early, it’s just going to be maybe one or two patients and maybe a health care worker or two. I’m hopeful that the system is working the way it’s supposed to work when we’re in this pandemic situation. The general public needs to continue to do their part by social distancing and hand washing.