Jump to content

COVID in the Break Room?

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

Apparently in my hospital, the majority of employee covid cases are coming from staff-to-staff transmission, not patient-to-staff.

Our employer has encouraged us to wear our masks in the break room, but...how are we supposed to eat? On my unit, social distancing isn't really possible, since we have 30 staff per shift with a tiny break room. Also, nobody is wiping down the table with Clorox before or after they eat.

Is anybody else getting this feedback from their admin? I honestly don't know what the solution is.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education.

We are to maintain the 6 foot distance when eating. That means people are in places other than the breakroom- our meeting rooms (since we can’t use them for meetings) have been set up with tables and chairs (distanced from each other of course) as have some other unused places.

There are also containers of wipes available with the expectation everyone wipes their area before and after eating.

19 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

We are to maintain the 6 foot distance when eating. That means people are in places other than the breakroom- our meeting rooms (since we can’t use them for meetings) have been set up with tables and chairs (distanced from each other of course) as have some other unused places.

Our compliance person, who is really an awful human being, will not let us eat anywhere but our breakroom which is shared by 70 people. When it was pointed out that there is no way we can make this work she basically told us that we will have to start taking our lunches at 0830, some people will just have to go without lunch and she doesn't really care if that is ridiculous. It should be noted that we are based in team rooms where we CAN socially distance and we are obsessive about cleaning.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics.

4 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

Our compliance person, who is really an awful human being, will not let us eat anywhere but our breakroom which is shared by 70 people. When it was pointed out that there is no way we can make this work she basically told us that we will have to start taking our lunches at 0830, some people will just have to go without lunch and she doesn't really care if that is ridiculous. It should be noted that we are based in team rooms where we CAN socially distance and we are obsessive about cleaning.

I would take that one up the chain. The hospital needs to free up some patient rooms and turn them into break rooms.

The only way I can see one break room working is if you each get a 5 minute lunch break (the part with masks off) and guzzle down a Glucerna, Ensure, or some such. Then put masks back on.

I would sneak my bottle of Glucerna into the bathroom if I had to; pull it out of my pocket and guzzle it down.

I would not be able to think clearly if I had to go an 6 or 8 hours - while working - without eating.

21 minutes ago, Kitiger said:

I would take that one up the chain.

Unfortunately in the middle of all this the last thing they care about is us getting lunch. We can go to the union, and we will if we have to. Right now we are biding our time to see just how strongly she enforces it.

7 hours ago, adventure_rn said:

Apparently in my hospital, the majority of employee covid cases are coming from staff-to-staff transmission, not patient-to-staff.

Our employer has encouraged us to wear our masks in the break room, but...how are we supposed to eat? On my unit, social distancing isn't really possible, since we have 30 staff per shift with a tiny break room. Also, nobody is wiping down the table with Clorox before or after they eat.

Is anybody else getting this feedback from their admin? I honestly don't know what the solution is.

The solution is for them to provide a space where people can maintain proper distance. They can also make a real plan to stagger lunch times to help facilitate fewer people in the space at once and can provide break nurses as is appropriate so that people aren't taking lunch breaks at unreasonable meal times.

Telling people to wear masks while eating is about par for the course.

Do whatever, file incident reports, report them to OSHA etc.

pixierose, BSN, RN

Specializes in ED, psych.

I bring my own wipes ... a baggie in my lunch bag.

We stagger our breaks. Or if I have time (ha!) I’ll go outside and sit on a bench and eat (but that almost never happens). We are not allowed to eat anywhere but the designated area so it’s the best we have (so far). We start at 10:45a and go til about 2:45p... and we’ve made darn sure we each get a 5-15 minute breakfast break in the AM.

(it helps us get a break from all the PPE - I work on a COVID floor and it’s nice to pee once in a while too)

BlessYourHeartt

Specializes in adult ICU.

Thank-you for raising this important concern! I fear that if a staff member is contagious, but asymptomatic or presymptomatic and working, the virus may linger in the breakroom air and on more common surfaces than can be consistently disinfected. Same for staff bathrooms.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education.

1 hour ago, Kitiger said:

I see your video and raise you baby wipes

3B5C1F7C-CE54-4560-92C5-891D3A69033D.thumb.jpeg.e3cdb8b770b1503ce87e46bd0ca3f13d.jpeg

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology.

I have to wear a mask during my entire shift. I will not wear a mask in the break room. That is my time to actually relax and breathe normally. The best thing to do is limit how many are in the break room at one time, stay 6ft apart, and wipe everything down constantly.

28 minutes ago, OUxPhys said:

The best thing to do is limit how many are in the break room at one time, stay 6ft apart, and wipe everything down constantly.

Which would work if we have enormous break rooms but we don't. In order to limit staff we would have to start lunches at 0830.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

We have a unit that has been hit so hard it can't meet minimum staffing requirements. What happened? yep - everyone unmasking and eating together in the break room. It's a conundrum, to be sure.

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

They really need to provide a safe work environment for you if there are so many people in a break room. It's up to you to wear a mask and social distance but if it isn't possible they need to come up with an answer other than to wear a mask when you eat.

Where I work one unit had 10 Covid positive nurses, one of which had to be hospitalized and another with asthma was sick for several weeks. Not saying this was the cause but tracing revealed a crew party in the break room.

So I believe it really is a thing.

I'm lucky I can eat alone since I tend to eat earlier than coworkers.

Edited by Tweety

Our management took chairs out of our breakroom and offered up a few other spaces for meals, but the other spaces don't have a fridge/microwave/etc so people don't like to use them. I avoid the other options too -- I don't want to heat up my lunch in one space and then have to walk through the unit with it. So, I try to take my lunch around 1100. On almost every unit I've ever worked, this seems to be a low traffic time because most people prefer to eat at 1200 or 1300. If management wants people to be compliant with social distancing during breaks, they need to provide appropriate space for it. It's not reasonable to deny people breaks, limit breaks, or mandate breaks to occur at inconvenient times like lunch at 0830.

Ironically, my covid+ unit has had the fewest staff cases for any of the inpatient units in my hospital. A bunch of people have been out on quarantine for medium-risk exposure from sharing breakroom space with them, but there haven't actually been any staff-to-staff transmissions on my unit.

On 6/15/2020 at 5:39 PM, pixierose said:

(it helps us get a break from all the PPE - I work on a COVID floor and it’s nice to pee once in a while too)

😂

Our manager reminded us to social distance while on lunch. Due to our staffing or lack of in order to maintain minimum floor coverage we have few enough people on break if we sit at opposite ends of the table we are automatically social distancing, but occasionally a 3rd person overlaps with 2 of us.

A solution really needs to be found. I often go outside as I think it's the safest place. I sympathize with people's need to breathe freely without a mask and of course to eat. But what's the point of all the mask wearing the rest of the day if during breaks we are giving coronavirus to each other? They need to find large enough spaces (again, for me outdoors is best) where people can safely space out to eat and drink. These days I eat in a hurry and then quickly get my mask back on. I'm not there to luxuriate in lunch or dinnertime. Eating is risky business, and I realize that this will be over at some point.

On 6/15/2020 at 10:19 AM, Wuzzie said:

Unfortunately in the middle of all this the last thing they care about is us getting lunch. We can go to the union, and we will if we have to. Right now we are biding our time to see just how strongly she enforces it.

Considering the virus is airborne I'm not sure I'd be spending any time I didn't have to in a poorly ventilated break room where people hadn't been wearing masks for any reason. while you're at it with the union, may consider asking about reverse airflow feasibility or at least some mega HVAC filters.

Edited by DotardsToupe

×

By using the site you agree to our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies.

OK