COVID-19 Testing and Education at the Allen Family Center
COVID-19 Testing and Education at the Allen Family Center The Mount Baker community is home to many families experiencing homelessness and housing instability. According to the Department of Community and Health Services, there is an estimate of 40,800 people in King County who experienced homelessness in 2020 (King County Department of Community, 2021). The Allen Family Center (AFC) is an inviting community resource, partnered with Mary’s Place and Mercy Housing Northwest, that serves families by providing assistance with housing, medical care, and childcare; recently, the AFC began providing COVID-19 testing available to anyone in the Mount Baker community. After assessing the AFC, our group, which consists of Seattle Pacific University (SPU) nursing students, determined that the AFC staff would benefit from further education regarding COVID-19 testing. Our goal for this project was for the AFC and its staff to be well-equipped with the skills and knowledge to operate a COVID-19 testing location for the surrounding Mount Baker community.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in people experiencing homelessness and therefore an increased need for easily accessible COVID-19 testing (King County Department of Health, 2022). According to the King County Department of Health, the homeless population is at a higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and experiencing severe illness related to COVID-19 (King County Department of Health, 2022). Fortunately, the AFC was provided with a large number of Binax COVID-19 testing kits for use in the Mount Baker community. However, the knowledge deficit within the AFC staff regarding safe COVID-19 testing protocol and infection prevention was a barrier to their confidence in facilitating safe COVID-19 testing. In addition to the knowledge deficit, the AFC is also limited in its ability to function fully due to setbacks related to COVID-19.
Our project consisted of reviewing current COVID-19 literature and testing protocols in order to create an educational binder for staff and clients. Our initial windshield survey of the AFC revealed the need to tailor the existing Mary’s Place testing protocols to their unique space. These modifications included a streamlined and comprehensive screening tool, adjustments to the Mary’s Place protocol, and details on safe donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE). Our symptom screening tool was developed using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a reference with the intention of being simple and comprehensive (CDC, 2020). We included questions relevant for the AFC such as the clients race, ethnicity, and if they were pregnant. For the modified Mary’s Place protocol, we included details on the use of the AFC space and specific testing procedures for the staff to follow. Finally, we provided educational infographics and links to videos regarding PPE donning and doffing; staff were educated to perform hand hygiene, wear a mask, and don gloves in order to promote staff safety. These three elements comprise the core of our project and final deliverables. One of our nursing diagnoses was a staff knowledge deficit regarding COVID-19 testing protocols and safety surrounding hand hygiene, disinfection, and testing flow. This led us to review research around proper testing protocols, sanitation, donning and doffing of PPE, and proper waste disposal to educate staff. We also compiled resources for the surrounding community such as sick day protocols, a vaccine locator, and additional locations to obtain a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. After a review of the research, we compiled relevant information into a binder and digital folder intended for use and distribution by the AFC staff. We met with the AFC staff in person to deliver these elements, assess their current testing protocol, and review our planned protocol. At this point, we were able to demonstrate all the necessary education we gathered. Meeting face-to-face provided the opportunity to answer questions directly, collaborate and brainstorm with staff on final edits to the protocol, and demonstrate any hands-on techniques, such as properly donning and doffing gloves. 4 Ultimately, these resources are intended for ongoing use to protect the health and safety of staff and the community they serve.
Our first outcome goal was to improve staff knowledge of safe COVID-19 testing practices. A limitation to this was the complexity and number of steps required to complete safe and effective COVID-19 testing. To avoid this limitation, we provided a step-by-step document explaining the testing procedures for each person involved in the testing process (See appendix). After visiting the AFC and providing in-person staff training, we found that our goal was met when the staff was able to explain and perform the testing process accurately. The second outcome we achieved was updating the AFC COVID-19 testing protocol to be current with the CDC guidelines for testing. Mary’s Place provided their established protocol for COVID-19 testing. We realized their protocol would need to be adapted to the AFC. We utilized the most up-to-date CDC information in order to update the protocol and make it specific to the AFC. A major limitation to this is the ever-changing nature of COVID-19 protocol as new information comes to light. To combat this limitation, we opted to provide a digital copy of our resources so as information is updated, the AFC can remain equipped with the most current information directly from the provided sources. The final outcome we hoped to achieve is an increased access to efficient, safe testing for the Mount Baker community. At this time, the AFC is testing their staff weekly and any clients who walk up to the building requesting COVID-19 testing. While we were able to meet this goal by facilitating the agency to open a new testing site at the AFC, we recognize that there is a limitation in how many clients can be tested due to COVID-19’s impact on the AFC’s ability to function at full capacity. As the pandemic settles, our hope is that the resources provided to the AFC will be sufficient to support their testing process and reach the greater Mount Baker community.
The newly established AFC in Mount Baker, Seattle has been providing COVID-19 testing to their staff and the greater community. The staff voiced their concerns about their knowledge deficit related to best practice protocol to keep themselves and clients safe and healthy. To best support both the staff and the Mount Baker community, SPU nursing students developed an evidence-based COVID-19 testing protocol for the AFC and provided educational materials and training. Through these interventions, we equipped the AFC staff with the education needed to facilitate a functioning and safe COVID-19 testing site. The AFC staff reported feeling empowered with the knowledge and confidence to carry out COVID-19 testing in a community facing a higher risk of exposure. A limitation to our project is the short timeline we were granted to work with the AFC because it limits our ability to see the long-term impact of our interventions. Our work to empower the staff with educational material and safe testing protocol proved to be valuable to those we worked with at the AFC and surrounding community. Seeing the staff react positively to our interventions and deliverables proved that establishing a safe and functioning testing site positively affected the community by leading to increased access to testing, community awareness, and improved staff knowledge.
CDC. (2020, June 29). CDC Facilities COVID-19 Screening. Centers for Disease
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King County Department of Community and Human Services. (2021). Integrating
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King County Department of Health. (2022, January). Homelessness and Covid-19.
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Beck, Zoe; Chong-Gum, Elijah; Gonzalez Perea, Josselyn; Gould, Sydnie; Planck, Emily; and Tracey, Kamila, "COVID-19 Testing and Education at the Allen Family Center" (2022). Nursing Leadership in Community Engagement Projects. 9.
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