I just made it through the draft “Framework for Reopening America” plan. One thing that is clear from very early in the document is that we will be living in a very different world than the one that we left just a few months back. It’s also exceedingly clear that there will need to be a massive expansion in the preventative measures used to ensure the safety of us all as we attempt to keep America open for business, while minimizing our exposure to infectious disease and specifically coronavirus. The Framework for America lays this out in one of its opening paragraphs:
“The first priority is to reopen community settings where children are cared for, including K-12 schools, daycares, and locally attended summer camps, to allow the workforce to return to work. Other community settings will follow with careful monitoring for increased transmission that exceeds the public health and health care systems. Throughout this phased reopening, it is critical for everyone to continue to strictly follow the recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including hand-washing, wearing face coverings in congregate settings, and maintaining social distance from non-family members.”
As a company with a major use case in infectious disease control in both hospital and medical environments, one of the most interesting parts of the plan is the potential expansion of these kinds of programs into businesses across the span of everyday American life. The idea of a “Infection Prevention Healthy Workplace Certification” seems to be a critical component of making this work in the longer term. We know that in hospital settings HAIs are estimated to cost America between $25-40 billion dollars every year. With coronavirus, the potential costs of outbreaks are demonstrably higher than we are currently living out. We are going to need to get these programs implemented within most of the places where we congregate, in particular:
- Sporting Events
- Meeting Halls
- Nursing Homes
- Day Care
- And of course the list goes on…
Compliance and Certifications will Help
The idea of designing a “certification program to allow identification of businesses that have put NPI’s in place to protect staff and customers.” is a very smart approach and will be critical in gaining back the trust of the public. I think it will also become a major differentiator and people will make buying decisions in part because of the decisions businesses make to keep their customers healthy and safe.
We have seen things like LEEDs certification drive consumer demand, but the nature of the challenge we are facing today with coronavirus will be a much stronger driver and will ultimately create “winners and losers”. Businesses that are able to adopt appropriate mitigation strategies will reopen faster and capture consumer demand at a much faster pace than those that are unable to make these processes and approaches a part of their ongoing business operations.
Retraining Facilities Inspectors
A major component of the next steps our communities will need to take will be putting in place the kind of monitoring and compliance efforts that will ensure the efforts by local businesses comply with best practices. This will be particularly important for the places where the highest volumes of people congregate and mix including restaurants, hotels, meeting halls, churchs, day cares, etc. The plan includes an action to:
“Re-train existing workforce of facility inspectors (local public health environmental services staff) and hire additional community members to assess non-healthcare infection control practices (social distancing, cleaning & disinfection, worker safety etc.)”
This is going to be a key area where being successful will equal a significantly better chance at reopening America and keeping it open. I know here at ExAM4Inspections we are working to transition the inspection templates and training we use to support our healthcare oriented use cases into something that can be used more broadly across various industries.
We are also partnering with inspection companies that leverage our commercial inspection assessments to help us bridge the gap between healthcare settings and the everyday world of properties, housing, restaurants and other aspects of daily American life where these healthcare oriented capabilities now bring real promise for helping bring back shuttered businesses and communities.
Certifications & Customer Confidence
I know a critical component of rebuilding consumer trust, as we reopen America, is going to be in ensuring that businesses are able to take the steps needed to maintain safe operating practices and are able to document and provide proof of these steps so that the costs associated with maintaining these programs can become a differentiator for their business. The Framework for Reopening America states the following:
“Businesses can apply for this designation, advertise attainment of the certification, and potentially display assessment results similar to restaurant inspections.”
These kinds of efforts are going to form the basis for businesses to make the case to adopt appropriate compliance measures and will be a major carrot in pulling businesses through what would otherwise be a significant cost center. It is our opinion that the government should also provide grants and other mechanisms for businesses, especially small businesses as they attempt to adopt these kinds of measures in not only a short time frame, but also in a time frame that has never before been contemplated. Government financial support that enables companies to take advantage of consulting, software and other capabilities that will further adoption, will be critical in ensuring that we are not only able to reopen America, but keep it open.
Want to learn more about how ExAM4Inspections can help you adopt and maintain the types of best practice that will help you open your business back up and keep it open? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the Contact Us link on this page. Interested in staying in the loop and getting our take on the efforts to Reopen America as they happen? Subscribe to the newsletter!
Want to read the draft Framework for Reopening America? Click here to download it.