This article is sponsored by McKesson Medical-Surgical. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Patti Baicy, director of clinical at McKesson Medical-Surgical, to learn how home health agencies have grown more sophisticated around PPE, what to understand with a potential COVID-19 vaccine and how her 20 years as a registered nurse helped prepare her for this trying moment in time.
HHCN: You’ve been at McKesson since 2001, but have had several different roles there. What are the most instructive lessons that you draw from in your career, that is most relevant to what you do today?
Baicy: I’m a registered nurse, and most of my clinical experience is as a perioperative nurse. Basically, I lived for almost 20 years in a surgical mask. I think that truly helps me better understand what’s going on in today’s market with COVID and PPE.
In terms of my McKesson experience, I was director of product development for our McKesson brand private label program, which included PPE: gloves, masks, gowns and hand-hygiene products. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with our global sourcing team on those same types of products, which has built a foundation for leading the clinical team, merging my clinical background with my product expertise.
You mentioned the time that you’ve spent wearing PPE, which is something that most of us were unaccustomed to until this year. How has consumer sophistication around PPE changed since the start of the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, health care workers were not as concerned with isolation gowns and the ratings of those gowns. If they had a gown available, they didn’t really look and ask, “Is it a non-rated gown? Is it fluid-resistant with AAMI (American Association of the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) Level 1 or 2?”
Now, they’re aware of the different types of isolation gowns. They at least want a fluid-resistant gown, but they prefer an AAMI Level 1 or an AAMI Level 2, just to make sure they have the protection needed.
I would say they also are looking closer at masks. They want to make sure that the procedure or surgical mask they’re using is a three-ply to give them protection. Of course, they would prefer to have an N95 mask, but the demand for those is still far outpacing supply.
What is the most important PPE/infection control protocol that has always been in place but is really being taken seriously now in light of COVID?
Like you said, there have always been guidelines around PPE and how it should be used. Now, agencies are focused and looking at the latest recommendations from the CDC to make sure that their organization is following the protocols and guidelines that the CDC has recommended for their agency.
And there’s just a host of information. They’re not just thinking about handwashing anymore, they’re thinking about overall hand hygiene, and that when they can’t have soap and water, they must be prepared with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Is there another important item of PPE that people may not think of, maybe something outside of those more standard ones?
I think, probably, the ones they’re not thinking of as often are the goggles and face shields. There’s also a new product on the market (Theraworx Protect by Avadim Health) for facial hygiene so that you can actually cleanse your face. It is safe for all mucous membranes.
Do you have a sanitizer preference that you recommend?
You just need to make sure that it is a sanitizer and, per CDC recommendations and FDA guidelines, that it has at least 60% of ethyl alcohol or 70% of isopropyl alcohol. You really need to check the label on that to make sure. I would definitely recommend a hand sanitizer from a familiar brand.
What are the supply chain challenges that agencies should be aware of with regards to PPE, and how might that lead them to make decisions about conserving it?
The supply chain is strong for isolation gowns, face shields and for alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Definitely, gloves are a challenge globally right now, so you need to make sure that you’re using the right gloves for the right task and that you’re using gloves when you need them without overusing them. I would also say that the same is true with N95 masks. You need to prioritize when you’re going to use those, or when you’re going to use just a three-ply procedure or surgical mask.
Telehealth changes some of this, because you would have a decreased need for PPE since you wouldn’t be doing as many visits in a patient’s home. Having said that, there are some things that patients need that you can’t do via telehealth. I think you just need to prioritize the telehealth appointments, make sure that you’re meeting the patient’s needs through those appointments, and then you are saving your PPE for when you need to be physically with that patient. That means masks, hand sanitizers and face shields for those visits, and for their employees who are in an office.
What’s next for McKesson for 2021?
We will still be focusing on PPE and infection prevention. COVID has changed the way that we will look at infection prevention and control for the future. I would encourage customers to review their policies, procedures, protocols, and continue to follow the guidance that HHS and CDC provide. We will continue our efforts to ensure that we have inventory available for agencies, as well as looking at new products and new innovations in the market that may help them.
I think it’s just really staying abreast of what’s going on in this current environment and in their community. We’re definitely living in a new time where we’re committed to remain focused on infection prevention.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
McKesson Medical-Surgical works with health systems, physician offices, extended care providers, in-home patients, labs, payers and others across the spectrum of care to build healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting. For more information, visit mms.mckesson.com.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].