COVID-19 Safety News Briefs
April 25, 2020
Drop-in sessions offer ED staff a meaningful chance to connect

Kathy Reda has been a nurse in Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s emergency department long enough to know and understand the needs of her colleagues. Reda, who has also been trained in techniques for providing emotional support to her peers, started a series of weekly drop-in hours most of them timed to shift changes to allow colleagues to connect with one another, discuss shared concerns, or just grab a quick bite to eat.

“People are dying. We all have to gown and glove and mask and face shield before going into any room,” she says. “At home, we undress in the garage and worry about infecting our loved ones. There are so many unknowns in this fluid environment. It became evident very quickly that we wanted to be able to gather together in a safe place even if just for 10 minutes.”

Kathy Reda.

Here are a few things to think about as you develop your “webside manner” and smooth the transition to telehealth for your patients.

  1. Have the camera at eye level.
  2. Look at the camera on the computer as much as possible during the visit. (Most people have a tendency to focus on the eyes of the person on the screen instead of the camera lens.)
  3. Active listening skills are even more important over telephone or video visits. Paraphrase and repeat what you heard back to the patient with frequency.
  4. Refrain from using the computer for other tasks during the visit. If computer use is necessary, let the patient know why you are looking away.
  5. At the end of the call, provide a summary of key points to your patient, including next steps or the treatment plan, and leave time for questions.

To learn more about implementing telehealth, the  Massachusetts Medical Society offers answers to Frequently Asked Questions  for practices new to telehealth, and the  American Medical Association has a Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice .

Early data on COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths suggest the pandemic is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations in Boston and elsewhere in the country. 

To help people whose primary language is not English know when and how to seek care, a coalition of more than 150 medical students across the country    launched by a first year student at Harvard Medical School    is translating the latest information about preventing and managing COVID-19 into 35 languages. Offerings include fact sheets for explaining the virus to young children, preventing the spread of the virus, and for pregnant women.

Visit the COVID-19 health literacy project  and select materials in the languages appropriate for your patient population.