Staying Safe During COVID-19
It has been pressed upon my mind to write this message for some time now. As we are all dealing with the novel coronavirus and the illness it causes (COVID-19), it is a time when we all want to make sure that the people we care about are safe and protected. I know I certainly have spent more time checking on my wife and reaching out to my two sons to make sure they are well and taking care of themselves, I have also been thinking about what matters the most in my life. In my reflection, it came to me that my family and my profession are certainly in the top categories. That’s why I want to reach out to you and let you know how my profession is helping me to take care of my extended family, the BRC Family.
In early March as news of the virus in the United States hit the new channels, I organized a multi-disciplinary team consisting of BRC staff and some external infectious disease consultants that I know. I also reached out to current and former colleagues, friends from medical school, and international contacts to learn how best to protect our clients from this illness. No plan is perfect, but thankfully, we have been successful in keeping the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 from entering into our facilities and from affecting our staff.
The Tools at Our Disposal
The most effective tools we have currently are social distancing and hand hygiene. Many studies show that even in the presence of infected patients in hospital settings, these have been effective tools to prevent infection. As well, using masks when infection is suspected and early detection of the illness by screening for COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, loss of taste or smell, coughing, and in some cases stomach problems has also proven to prevent and/or slow the spread of the virus.
Protecting Clients and Staff
For these reasons, we have implemented all of these procedures since early March. Our clients and staff are screened twice daily for fever and our housekeeping and maintenance staff are to be commended for their efforts in extra cleaning and sanitization. Our campuses at this point are all closed to outside visitors, and we will open a new unit on our property this week that will allow for us to place any new admissions coming from at-risk areas into our care safely without exposing them to other clients until we are certain they free from the virus.
At BRC, we don’t want anyone to have to make a choice between getting their loved one help for addiction and worrying about them becoming infected with COVID-19. This is a scary time for all of us but it doesn’t have to be a time where we make choices between treatment and allowing addiction to continue because help is not available. After all, addiction has done just as much damage to our world, our families, and our country as the novel coronavirus. We will continue to work to keep your loved ones safe with the same amount of protection and care that we recommend for our families. I wanted to share with you my commitment to that effort.
Alex Kudisch, MD, DFAPA