Reopening Recommendations

Published in Women's Health on May 19, 2020

Each one of our Essentially Women members are in a different stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on your state, county or even city, you may have different timelines for reopening your business. In the new COVID-19 world, what does this look like? Health experts have indicated that there could also be a resurgence of the virus in the fall and winter.

As you move to reopen your business, it may help to walk through what each of your employees encounters each day and how you typically handle each of your clients, whether they have made an appointment or have walked into your store.

Universal Precautions and Emergency Preparedness Procedures

First and foremost, please refer to your Universal Precautions and Emergency Preparedness Procedures that are required for your accreditation. Your emergency or disaster plans should be implemented, and you should adjust the disaster planning as needed. Universal precautions and infection control are required. As a reminder, annual competency review is required as part of accreditation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you should provide re-education and continuous updates to all staff about these guidelines.

From American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC):

We recommend that you review your Infection Control and Emergency Preparedness policies to see if any revisions or additions are necessary to enhance your compliance and protect yourselves, staff and patients. Specific ABC Accreditation Standards that address these areas are: PS.3PS.11.1PS.11.2FS.3FS.5 and FS.5.1

To avoid getting sick, make sure everyone is following the CDC standards of how to protect yourself and others. Wash your hands often or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and maintain social distancing of 6 feet apart. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover

If you want more information or an easy way to educate your employees about standard precautions and infection control, consider taking VGM Education’s INF002 – Standard Precautions and Infection Control course. This course can be completed in 30 minutes and covers topics such as proper handwashing techniques, clean vs. dirty supplies and how to handle each, proper disposal of contaminated materials, transmission-based precautions, communicable diseases, contact precautions, and airborne and droplet precautions to name a few. Call VGM Education at 866-227-8171 or email [email protected] with questions specific to the course.

When should you handwash?

Washing your hands is one of the most important ways to avoid spreading COVID-19.

  • When arriving and before leaving a health care facility.
  • When arriving and before leaving a patient’s home.
  • Before applying or removing gloves.
  • Between patient-to-patient contact.
  • After touching inanimate items or surfaces that are likely to be contaminated with virulent or epidemiologically important microorganisms, including urine-measuring devices or secretion-collection devices.
  • After picking up an object from the floor of a patient’s home.
  • Before and after touching wounds.
  • Before performing invasive procedures.
  • Before taking care of particularly susceptible patients, such as newborns and people who are severely immunocompromised.
  • After situations during which microbial contamination of hands is likely to occur, especially those involving contact with mucous membranes, blood, body fluids, secretions, or excretions.
  • After taking care of an infected patient or one who is likely to be colonized with microorganisms of special clinical or epidemiologic significance, such as multiply-resistant bacteria.
  • Before eating.
  • After using the restroom.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In addition to handwashing, healthcare personnel may need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in situations where they will have contact with potentially infectious materials. Protective barriers reduce the risk of exposure of the healthcare worker’s skin and mucous membranes to potentially infective materials. Protective barriers reduce the risk of exposure to blood, body fluids containing visible blood, and other fluids to which standard precautions apply. PPE includes gloves, gown, mask, and goggles or face shield. Follow CDC/Health Department guidelines, minimum of gown, mask, and gloves.

We understand it’s difficult to acquire PPE due to demand. Even if you had a relationship with a distributor before the public health emergency (PHE), you may not be able to order PPE through them. We have found a resource where you can source PPE. Cov.Care is not a vendor-partner but are able to sell smaller quantities to Essentially Women members. View their price list and links to where you can purchase online. Use the discount code listed on the spreadsheet to get a 5% discount.

Fabric Facial Masks

EW vendor-partner, Zalamoon, has recently launched their adult and child-sized facial masks. These washable and reusable masks feature a triple layer design for protection, breathability and comfort with adjustable ties to customize fit.

EW members receive a 5% discount on these masks. To order, go to, point to Partnerships and click on the  Essentially Women Members section. You’ll need the EW code to access, which can also be found on their vendor page in the members-only portal. The pricing on the website includes your EW member price.

Cool-jams is now offering moisture wicking fabric face masks with removable filters. They have diverted a good portion of their design and production capabilities to producing a super comfortable, breathable protective face mask which follows CDC guidelines and so much more.  They start with their moisture wicking Cool-jams fabric, so you don't feel the sweat. Additionally, all of their Cool-jams fabric is treated with a natural antimicrobial treatment to help enhance the effectiveness of the mask. Any EW member who has a wholesale account is eligible to purchase. Pre-order now and masks will begin to ship around May 21. Note: If you require a large quantity for industry or other front line exposure, please contact customer service at [email protected] to place a special order.

How to take in people, set up appointments, and reopen?

Be sure to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, your state’s guidelines and your public/county health department guidelines on reopening and any requirements they may have set for your area. Here are some recommendations:

  • Only allow the patient into store (no other family members).
  • Have a disinfection area at entry for patient to use before doing anything with staff.
  • Chairs are minimum 6 ft apart.
  • Minimal patients in the store at one time. Consider doing curbside pickup for phone orders.
  • Clean/disinfect fitting rooms after each use.
  • Clean/disinfect store, work areas daily (beginning and end of work day).

What about bras, wigs, lingerie, and clothing that cannot be washed per CDC guidelines?

According to the CDC, soft surfaces should be laundered, if possible, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water settings and dry items completely. If you cannot launder the item, disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant. The CDC indicates that these disinfectants meet EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19.

From the CDC: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

What Does the Fitting Experience Look Like?

First Question:  Can the item be shipped via shipping service? Refills of mastectomy supplies can be shipped. Please refer to the reimbursement section of the Essentially Women COVID-19 for proof of delivery guidelines.

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Secondly: What is considered non-emergent?  Patient’s with comprised immunity may choose to wait for fitting.  Who can wait for fitting, i.e., existing patient?

Thirdly:  If patient chooses to have a fitting, have the conversation to set the expectation for the fitting experience. Let her know that she should expect everyone in your business will be wearing masks and/or other PPE, she should also wear a mask, disinfecting guidelines when she enters, and any other guidelines you have in place about social distancing or keeping store occupancy to a minimum.

As you move forward through this uncharted territory, know that the entire Essentially Women and VGM staff is here to help guide you. The latest COVID-19 updates can be found at Bookmark and check this site often!


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