Preparing for Infectious Diseases in the Face of the Unknown

How hospitals manage emerging pathogens like novel coronavirus

By Medline Newsroom Staff | February 13, 2020

The Novel Coronavirus – now officially COVID-19 or nCoV, according to the CDC – has raised global fears about a possible pandemic while health officials worldwide are working quickly to understand the mysterious pathogen. Arriving at the same time as the annual flu season, it’s common to see Americans in everyday life wearing masks in an effort to feel safe from germs around them, real or imagined.

How can healthcare providers prepare for emerging infectious diseases when practice and standards are yet to be set?

“Developing an infection prevention protocol to respond to an emerging virus is sort of a moving target,” says Dr. Kamal Singh, Director of Infection Prevention & Control, NorthShore University HealthSystem. “We have a body of data that can help us to guide the whole infection prevention plan even when we don’t yet fully understand the trajectory of a virus.”

Dr. Singh notes planning infection control protocols is the obvious first step. To do that effectively, a planning team must be multi-disciplinary and account for clinicians in different care settings.

“Requirements in the outpatient setting, urgent care setting, and doctor offices are very different from the expectations and the requirements in an acute care hospital,” said Dr. Singh. “Successful planning involves the cooperation of all the members a system. It’s not just infection prevention professionals. It also takes the nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers working in tandem.”

Medline’s Dr. Rosie Lyles outlines five foundational requirements of any infection control plan in a care setting:

  • Appropriate hand hygiene
  • Environmental cleaning and disinfecting
  • Decolonization of patient skin
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, such as gloves, facemasks and gowns for certain pathogens
  • PPE for suspected infected patients, such as face masks

“We just don’t know what comes through our doors. So we have to make sure we stay in front of it and have a plan at all times,” says Lyles.

Alan Weiss, ReadyCare division president at Medline, has observed a higher level of preparedness in hospitals nationwide than seen even a decade ago.

“Health systems are a lot better prepared today to handle unknowns than they might have been in the past,” says Weiss. “Medline also has planned ahead so that we can handle these things in stride.  For healthcare, their infection control protocols aren’t just a one-dimensional solution. It’s not just sanitize your hands or clean the surfaces or wear a mask. It’s a combination of infection control tactics that leads to success.”

“I think the really exciting thing about Medline is we have all these different technologies and solutions under one roof for healthcare providers,” continued Weiss.

For more about Medline’s infection prevention solutions, visit


Categories: COVID-19, Infection Prevention

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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