If there is one thing that the outbreak of COVID-19 has proven, it’s that the American healthcare system is vastly underprepared to deal with major healthcare crises. With frontline workers facing shortages of PPE equipment, not having the proper laundry additives to sanitize their scrubs, hospitals fearing not having enough ventilators and staff to care for critically ill patients and other challenges that have become apparent over the last several months, it’s clear that major changes need to take place within the medical field to prepare for future crises.

Over the past few months alone, the healthcare industry has had to overcome numerous issues to save lives and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Changes have been happening at an astonishing rate, and it’s clear that the post-COVID-19 medical field will look much different than it did before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Whether it’s a future pandemic, a resurgence of COVID-19 or the typical flu season, healthcare providers and facilities are changing the way things are done and taking steps to ensure that the industry is better prepared for the next crisis.

In doctors’ offices, hospitals and other medical facilities, workers are doubling up their efforts to sterilize high-touch areas. Infections that commonly travel via community spread–such as influenza and the common cold–tend to travel through the air in droplets. These droplets then land on surfaces or objects where they can easily be transferred to the nose, mouth or eyes. They also end up on surfaces when someone who is ill coughs or sneezes into their hand and then touches the surface.

To slow the spread, high-touch areas, including door handles, countertops, credit card machines, etc. are being sanitized more diligently than ever before. Things like magazines in waiting rooms may largely become a thing of the past simply because there is no efficient means of sanitizing them in between patients.

Telehealth has proven vital in the midst of COVID-19 and will remain that way even after the current crisis subsides. Being able to consult with a doctor from the comfort of your own home means that you don’t have to face the risk of being exposed to germs, viruses and bacteria in a typical healthcare setting. This option also helps protect vital healthcare workers, which has proven essential during the current outbreak.

The bottom line is there is no denying that COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live. While it has had countless negative implications, it has also had the positive effect of driving much-needed change in the healthcare sector. It has become clear over the past few months that the United States healthcare system was vastly unprepared to deal with a major health crisis. However, steps are now being taken to ensure a much better response to future crises.

To all of Northwest Suburban college future health care workers stay safe and be diligent.

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