Safe Medical Detox During COVID-19

in Admission Guidelines
Dr. Patrick Gallus
Published Mar 31, 2020
safe medical detox

By Dr. Patrick Gallus

Dr. Gallus is the Chief Medical Officer of Gallus Medical Detox. He is board-certified in emergency medicine, and has over 15 years experience in medical detox for patients with substance use disorders. 

Over the past few weeks, we have received  calls from patients wanting to take this opportunity to seek help for their addiction.

We are living in unprecedented times. Our world has been temporarily placed on hold due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.  Because of the contagious nature of COVID-19, most of us find ourselves isolated and a great many of us face economic uncertainty.

These conditions can create the perfect storm for people to drink heavily and use more substances. Rather than isolating to stay safe, some face self-destruction in isolation as their addiction takes hold or remerges.

Critical factors for safe medical detox during COVID-19

I wanted to take a moment and address what I think is critical in making the important decision to seek medical detox treatment. There are several factors that are paramount to keeping you safe during the pandemic, while still receiving the care that you need.

Safety is always the primary concern and this is more important now more than ever. Safety revolves around the quality of care — the greatest benefit at the least risk and overall cost.  This includes the facility and environment, standard protocols and policies, as well as those that have been implemented in response to the outbreak, and most importantly the background and training of the medical team.

  • Facility environment. The first thing that needs to be assessed is the actual facility environment. There are several factors to consider. Large psychiatric facilities, or hospitals in particular, increase risk due to the high volume of patients they receive. A private facility, where patient volumes can be strictly regulated, increases your personal safety dramatically.
  • Bedrooms. Each room should be private and not shared.  This protects not only you but also other patients and staff. Like most viruses, the coronavirus is spread by contact, but this virus has proven to be particularly contagious. It is therefore imperative that patients only occupy single rooms. There is too much uncertainty in a shared room with another patient when their contact history is unknown.
  • Location of patients. Another important question to consider is the treatment facility’s admissions policy.  It is my opinion that the use of commercial aviation increases risk of contacting the COVID-19. It is a safer option to be driven to a facility. This consideration should be in place for a minimum of four weeks until we receive further information from the CDC.
  • Protection of all. The facility that you choose has the responsibility to protect you and their employees. This means they must have the ability to isolate you should you contract the coronavirus during your stay. You need to ask the facility directly if they have adequate supplies of protective equipment (gloves, masks, and gowns). These supplies have been very difficult to acquire but they are instrumental in keeping you safe. If they don’t have them you should not admit to their facility.
  • Type of staff. The staff should work primarily at the facility that you choose. They should ideally have ER and ICU experience as well as training in infectious disease management.  A large number of part-time workers may significantly increase your risk of exposure. You must be assured that their staff is dedicated to cleanliness, has quick cleaning supplies, and follows fastidious procedures concerning your safety.

This crisis will eventually pass but we need to do everything we can at this time to move forward in a positive manner while at the same time taking every precaution we can. There is dignity in healing.

We are encouraging people to take this unfortunate circumstance and turn it into a positive life-changing opportunity in dealing with their substance use disorders. Call Gallus today and see how we can help: 866-358-6446.