• Stay home whenever possible. This is true regardless of what your local restrictions may be. Avoid any situations with more than 10 people, and work from home if you can. 
  • Wash your hands, a lot. The best way to wash your hands is with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer. Most people do not wash their hands correctly.
  • Don’t touch your face when you are in public or your hands are dirty. When people with coronavirus cough, sneeze, or even just speak, the virus spreads through droplets onto surfaces around them. Assume that everything outside of your home is contaminated. When you are out in public, be aware that your hands are “dirty” and keep them away from your face. This can be quite difficult and requires really paying attention to what you are doing with your hands, but it can be learned (doctors and nurses do it all the time). If you have an itch or have to touch your face and you don’t have the ability to wash your hands first, use the inside of your shirt or a clean tissue. As soon as you get home, wash your hands!
  • Know the symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if you become sick or are exposed. If you develop a fever, body aches, severe tiredness, or dry cough, make an appointment to get a test and let the testing location know you are experiencing symptoms. If your test takes a bit of time, stay at home and do not leave your house until you are told you have a negative result. If positive, stay home for at least 14 days and consult with your healthcare provider immediately. If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should also stay at home for 14 days, and monitor for symptoms. If you are going to get sick, it will happen within 2-14 days of the exposure. If you have to go out, wear a mask. Call your doctor before leaving your home to seek medical treatment. Access emergency services if you develop chest pain or severe shortness of breath.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Whether we are in a pandemic or not, good oral care improves overall health. Cleansing your mouth of microbes is as important as washing your hands.
  • Practice mindfulness to better manage stress and anxiety. When caregivers and advocates can’t be present at the bedside, stress and anxiety for both hospitalized patients and their loved ones increases significantly. It is so much easier said than done to “clear your mind” and slow down, but it is more critical than ever that we be able to do this.
  • Get involved. Hospitals and healthcare organizations cannot do this alone. They need your questions and feedback in order to inform their decision making to optimize care for all. Many organizations have Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs), which serve to invite patients, family members, and members of the community into improvement efforts. Particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic, involvement of seldom heard voices, such as those in low income communities of color, is essential to develop targeted interventions.
    • St. Bernard’s Hospital: Community Town Hall on COVID-19 Vaccines: In January 2021, St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago held a virtual community town hall to address concerns about the COVID-19 vaccination and encourage residents to get vaccinated when they’re eligible. The event featured informative, straight-forward presentations from clinical staff and a wide-ranging question and answer session. We congratulate St. Bernard on demonstrating a high level of concern about patient safety and public education at this critical time.