Yair Ariel • June-6-2017
It’s summer and your pediatric office waiting room seems a bit quiet. Soon it will be swarming parents and children for their back to school checkups. Then wait a few weeks after school has started and your waiting room will be infested with germ and virus hot spots. EWWW!
Yes, its a problem faced by every pediatric waiting room
Kids pick up viruses and germs on their first week of school in ritualistic fashion. Unfortunately, this leaves your waiting room vulnerable to breeding the nasties. Then you have the well kids whose parents wait till the last minute to get their back to school wellness exams. Fearfully, you hope the well kids don’t pick up those germs and viruses in your waiting room. You don’t want to be knows as the dirty pedi practice. In retrospect, you’ll be known as the award winner for the germiest pediatric waiting room by all parents. No, wait a minute, what’s worse? The whole neighborhood now knows your dirty little secret!
Let’s throw out all the magazines, toys, and books. While you’re at it, take out the whole play area. At this rate, might as well have everyone stand in to single lines not touching anything. Sick kids to the right and well kids to the left.
That’s a bit harsh and just unrealistic
Regrettably, that’s not a viable option. Seriously what’s worse being labeled the germy doctor or a lame one. Consequently, kids are natural pathogen shedders and hosts of infectious organisms. Did you know that the largest incident of measles transmission is at doctor offices. Doctor offices may also be the culprit in the transmission of chickenpox, flu, viral infections, and even gastroenteritis. Similarly, early learning centers, daycares and family entertainment centers all struggle with keeping transmission free zones.
Don’t fear we have your ultimate guide to a germ proof waiting area. Or, at least a pretty close to germ free waiting room.
- Provide hand sanitizer. Yes, as simple as it may sound some offices still don’t have hand sanitizer easily available. It’s also a proven fact that alcohol based gels are much more effective than washing your hands.
- No soft toys. A study shows that even after they have been soaked in clorox and disinfecting properly germs still return within a few days of returning to the waiting room. How, well you are exposing them to germs in the waiting room. Don’t forget kids are natural transporters of microbes and organisms. Opt for hard toys that you can spray down with a water and Clorox solution. If this still creeps you out or your parents omit toys from the waiting room.
- Add disinfectant wipes. So you didn’t get rid of the the hard toys. Then you need disinfectant wipes for parent to use to wipe down surfaces, chairs, toys, etc. Why because there are always germaphobe parents that will always try to disinfect everything everywhere you go. That’s actually a great thing because you can’t constantly disinfect everything all day long.
- Don’t offer a snack machine. First of all snacks in the waiting area equals a hot mess. Second, given the myriad of germs on every surface, it’s impossible to keep clean hands while eating.
- Provide disposable activity sheets. During check in offer an activity sheet and disposable set of colors just like restaurants do. Kids often take the sheets with them. Conversely, they can easily be disposed from waiting rooms.
- Add a TV. Although pediatric settings do not encourage the use of TVs they do provide germ free entertainment. Make sure to provide educational viewing rather than age specific cartoons that may not be appropriate for all children.
- Use Technology. Yes, touch free technology is all the rave! Interactive gaming projectors allow area of the waiting rooms to transform into a virtual immersive germ free zone. Without question this technology allows waiting rooms to provide entertainment to children with little to no cleaning. These technologies project game onto a floor, wall, or table where kids use their body and natural motion to play the games.
- Minimize the brew time. The shorter the wait time the less likely for germs to brew. Consider using technology to speed up intake wait times. Use digital portals where patients can update their information using an ipad. Likewise, wipe iPads down after each use.
- Split your day. My doctor’s office does this. They take wellness check up in the morning and they take sick patients after 1pm. Consequently keeping your waiting room germ free for longer periods of time and guarding your well patients from exposure.
- Provide masks. Accordingly, providing masks encourages patients to keep germs from spreading. Parents are willing to use these on their children if you have them available in your waiting room.
You may not be able to have a 100% germ free pediatric waiting room but, it’s possible to keep it clean. Clinics, offices, early childhood centers, daycares, and FECs can all use these practical tips in preventing transmission of germs. Remember to keep your waiting room inviting and fun while guarding against germ breeding hot spots in your waiting room.
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