We never thought we would have to worry about getting PPE
“Our department supplies the sterile equipment that's needed in the operating room (OR) and other areas of the hospital. The OR sends their reusable instruments to us, and we collect equipment from the rest of the hospital to process and distribute.
The equipment goes through the decontamination area first, to be disassembled, washed, and disinfected, depending on the instrument. In this area, we always wear full PPE.
The equipment then goes to the “clean side” for assembly and sterilization. We wear a head covering in this area and take extra care to ensure there are no foreign particles on any of the instruments.
We have extra duties now, including the reprocessing of respirators, which undergo a high level of disinfecting, drying, and repackaging before distributing again. Cleaning and disinfecting in all areas has also increased.
I was a technician for many years before becoming a supervisor. Now I make sure the technicians have what they need to do their job and ensure procedures are followed.
COVID has put a lot of strain on us. We never thought we would have to worry about getting PPE, but we’ve had some struggles, including sizing issues, because suppliers sizing can vary. I had staff that couldn’t work in the decontamination area because I couldn’t get gloves big enough for them. If we can’t provide proper protection, we can’t ask staff to work in an area that requires it.
We have also faced challenges with staffing due to COVID. In the beginning, childcare was an issue. Now the flu season is impacting staffing because you can’t come to work if you show flu symptoms. With surgeries increasing and the flu season upon us, things will be busy.
Some clerks were working from home, and parts of their job that couldn’t be done remotely fell to me. They are starting to come back to work, so that will allow me to focus my attention on other matters.
We paused student practicums at the beginning of COVID, but now they are back training with us.”
Inderbir, Medical Device Reprocessing Supervisor, part of the health care team