A simple guide to coronavirus to share with patients and clients

Here’s a simple guide to COVID-19 that you can share with your clients and patients.

By Eliana Ifill

For the past few weeks, the talk about coronavirus and COVID-19 has spread all over the news, social media networks, and even daily chats with everyone in your life.

But what exactly is COVID-19?

Understand COVID-19

First, let’s distinguish between coronavirus and COVID-19:

  • Coronavirus is a type of virus known to cause several diseases to humans and some animals. These diseases can range from mild, like the common cold, to severe, like pneumonia.
  • COVID-19, on the other hand, means “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is the illness caused by a type of coronavirus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

[Related: Health Insurance Updates]

How does COVID-19 spread?

The easiest way for the virus to go from one person to another is through direct contact with respiratory (through the nose or mouth) droplets from someone who is infected.

The virus can be spread by coming into contact with objects that have been contaminated. The virus may be able to last for days or even weeks on surfaces, according to National Institutes of Health. This research means that people may get the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

How can you tell if you or someone has COVID-19?

While there’s evidence to believe that some patients show no signs of illness while infected with SARS-CoV-2, there are symptoms you can keep an eye on. A dry cough, fever, and trouble breathing are signs of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is similar to a cold or flu, but differs in a few key ways:

  • A cold will usually cause a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, and fatigue.
  • A flu tends to include a fever or chills, body aches, and even weakness.

While everyone is at risk, COVID-19 affects older patients, patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and those with suppressed immune systems the hardest.

Here’s an important takeaway from the CDC: “Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can cause people to avoid or reject others even though they are not at risk for spreading the virus.” The CDC shares this and other facts for clients and patients on the web or through this downloadable document (PDF).

Prevent COVID-19

Basic hygiene and some social changes can help keep you and people around you healthy. Some tips to remember:

  • Cover your face when sneezing or coughing, preferably with a disposable tissue, and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash your hands carefully and regularly to prevent anything you’ve come in contact with from entering your body. This means with soap and water for 20 seconds.

On LinkedIn, health care consultant Dr. Nicolas Argy says these are some of the most common mistakes with handwashing.

“You are fastidious: you wash constantly. You think it is time because you touched a potential dirty surface.

1 You turn on the water
2 You wash thoroughly for 20 seconds
3 You turn off the water

Perfect, right?

NO WRONG

The faucet is contaminated because you touched it with dirty hands. Use a wipe or paper towel or tissue to turn off the water or else you recontaminate yourself.”

  • Avoid touching your face to stop the virus from reaching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Declutter your home, workspace, or wherever you’re spending the most time. An empty desk is easier to clean and you’re removing surface areas where the virus might hide.
  • Stay home. Avoid crowded areas and stay at least six feet away from others—if you can smell the garlic they ate last night or their deodorant, you’re too close. Don’t ride the elevator in groups, and avoid public transportation if possible.
  • If you must go out, remove your “outside clothes” as soon as you can when you’re home, and put them directly in the washing machine. If you can’t, keep a separate basket for dirty clothes only. Avoid touching things like your bed or couch before cleaning up.

The WHO’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public has detailed materials and videos you can download and share.

If you have caught the virus, it’s very important that you continue to practice these tips to prevent exposing others to the disease. Since there is no known cure, as with colds and the flu, preventing COVID-19 from spreading is the only way to stop this pandemic for now.

5 Ways To Save Your Budget with a Sustainable CHW Training Program

When it comes to training community health workers (CHWs) for your agency, it’s more important than ever that you demonstrate a sustainable program.

The research already shows that CHWs can save organizations millions, especially when it comes to supporting complex patients and high ER room utilizers. CHW programs offer proven return on investment (ROI) when implemented effectively. A recent analysis by Penn Medicine showed its community health worker program yields $2.47 for every $1 invested annually by Medicaid.

[Related: Most Important Job Skills To Build a CHW Career]

At the same time, it’s vital not to sacrifice quality. We meet agencies on a regular basis that train their staff by emailing out a PDF document. That might be a helpful resource document, but it’s not a training program. You’ll want to keep your training relevant, up-to-date with health guidelines, and engaging enough that your staff actually wants to participate in it.

Considering the pressures on keeping a CHW program afloat, your strategy for creating a new program or maintaining an initiative needs to be flexible, smart, and strategic. Anything you can do to keep costs down is a benefit. It’s important to remember that while a CHW training program is a necessary investment, not all expenses are expensive.

5 Strategies for Reducing the Cost of Training CHWs

  1. Calculate the cost of your existing training.
  2. Centralize your education efforts.
  3. Cut travel related to training and move online.
  4. Partner up with other programs, departments, and agencies.
  5. Re-examine Medicaid.

Here are several examples that you can follow to train your CHWs without over spending and staying within a budget, whether you’re responsible for a small, midsize, or large organization.

1. Calculate the cost of your existing training.

Deciphering the true costs of online training is a complicated task that can easily reach beyond the boundaries of any grant or budget line item. You may be paying more for training than you think. Think about the cost of updating outdated materials or using expensive trainers. Broaden your search to dig up all the costs you and your colleagues might be feeding into training–and identify ways to trim and consolidate (more on that below).

Here are some places to look when calculating your existing training costs, but remember this is only a start:

  • Room rentals
  • Facilitators
  • Per diem for traveling CHWs
  • Lunch
  • Materials
  • Communication
  • Marketing costs
  • Tuition

Calculate cost of CHW training2. Centralize your education efforts.

Many agencies have multiple departments training similar people in the same skills. Someone who is a case manager in one department might be doing the same work as a CHW in another. If they both need to learn outreach skills, then train them together.

This also goes for partnerships with training organizations. Many of our clients don’t realize at first that they can bring all their online courses into CHWTraining. We can host many different types of courses in one learning management system. This can be a tremendous savings, because it means that our clients can completely eliminate the redundant cost of hosting training for different people in different systems.

3. Cut travel related to training and move online.

Travel is the number one budget-eater when it comes to training. Airfare, hotels, meals, time away from the office…it can amount to thousands for each employee. End it. Just stop paying for any travel and offer e-learning.

This can be a game-changer in more ways than one. Not only are you avoiding costs associated with travel, you’re also making it much more convenient for your workers to access educational content in an engaging format whenever they need it. This could be when they’re home, when they have time between seeing clients or patients, or when they have a critical need for skills, such as information about finding immunizations during a flu outbreak.

Elearning courses can be updated quickly and easily, and they often don’t need a facilitator at all. Saving staffing and travel while making training better and more accessible is a solid way to boost your ROI.

4. Partner up with other programs, departments, and agencies.

Your partner agencies or neighboring departments likely have similar training needs to you. Start networking and find a way to share the expense of learning. Bonus: Your CHWs benefit from more cross-departmental networking, and it makes their job of making referrals easier.

The more you ask around, the more you can identify internal and external subject-matter experts who can supplement any existing training efforts.

Imagine that you have an asthma home visit program that requires your CHWs to go door-to-door to help clients understand their asthma care plans and identify allergens and triggers. Now imagine that you contact your agency’s EMS coordinator and explain that your CHWs are in clients’ homes. Your EMS partner pulls out a Vial of Life kit and offers to show your team how it works and how they can set it up with clients.

Think how that one contact could significantly improve the life of your clients and enrich your internal training efforts.

5. Re-examine Medicaid.

CHWs are billable providers, although federal codes and regulations could make it difficult to allow for direct billing. “The Medicaid SS1115 waiver permits states to use federal funds in ways that do not conform to federal standards, so in this case Medicaid funds can be used to support CHW programs,” according to the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Ready to start training your CHWs?

Request a free consultation today!