The Coronavirus is spreading throughout the United States and the healthcare community is dealing with the effects. The increasing prevalence of this virus means more and more health care workers are being exposed. As locums physicians, because we often travel for work, we risk being exposed to the coronavirus not only on our jobs, but on the way to our jobs. Furthermore, the risk of exposure, also means the risk of being quarantined. As locums physicians, this means we will be out of work and without pay. Here are a few ways we can protect ourselves during this situation.
- Always continue to practice good infection control measures. Because we know that the best way to prevent the spread of disease is to wash our hands, we physicians are the loudest champions of good hand hygiene. This is a time for us to continue to be hypervigilant about this issue. Furthermore, we can make sure that we protect ourselves while traveling by constantly washing our hands, using hand sanitizers, and wiping down our surfaces with disinfectants. In addition to that, continue to strictly adhere to your health care facility’s infection control policies and look out of any communication sent by your facility regarding infection control issues.
- Use caution when taking assignments in places with known cases of the coronavirus. In several healthcare facilities, physicians have been exposed to the coronavirus and have had to be quarantined for 14 days, without pay. Of course, other physicians must work in the place of these quarantined physicians. I anticipate as the physician exposures increase and more physicians are quarantined, there will be an increased need for locums physicians to fill the need. We must all be aware of the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus and thus having to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Prepare financially for the possibility of not being able to work for 14 days. If you are exposed to the coronavirus, you may have to be quarantined for 14 days. Because we are locums physicians, that means 14 days without pay. If those 14 days fall between your assignments, then you may not suffer financially. However, it you are quarantined,
and you must cancel 14 days of work, that may cause a financial hardship. Use this situation to make sure your “financial house is in order”. Make sure that you will be able to cover your expenses just in case you cannot work for several weeks or several months. Make sure you have health insurance and disability insurance. If you have a family, prepare a plan for what will happen in case you have to be quarantined.
We locums physicians are not only the backbone of the physician community, we can be the lifesavers of the physician community. We are the ones who will work when no one else can work. However, while taking care of others, we must take care of ourselves.