Wash your hands. Vigorously. Frequently. As nurses, we already understand that proper handwashing is the most important step that needs to be taken to combat Coronavirus. importance of washing our hands. Since the recent outbreaks, the general public is also catching on to this trend, which is positive. However, the impact the Coronavirus could have on the US healthcare system in terms of being able to meet the demands amidst a pandemic (in case it spreads further), could be too much for our current healthcare delivery model to endure.
If you’ve been online at all in the last few weeks or caught even a snip it of any major news outlet, then you know the Coronavirus is spreading, and with it, fear and complications in the medical community.
Stocking Up on the Essentials
People are purchasing face masks, and hand sanitizer at shockingly high rates and all the while experts and pundits are arguing about how seriously the virus should be taken. Memes posted on social media accounts sarcastically point out that handwashing should already be an important part of your daily routines. While others make jokes about face masks and fashion. But what is even more important, although less talked about, is that the nursing shortage in the medical field is being stretched beyond foreseen limits. Without adequate staffing levels in medical facilities, we will not be able to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Nursing Home Feeling the Effects
A coronavirus outbreak at a residential nursing home in Kirkland, Washington (a Seattle suburb) struck hard over the first weekend of March, resulting in seven deaths and more seriously ill. It shone a spotlight on the truth we nurses already know deep down: medical facilities are vulnerable. What we know about the coronavirus is that it is most deadly to the elderly population. Residential nursing home facilities already struggle often with understaffing, and are ripe places for viruses and infections to spread among its most vulnerable patients.
National Nurses United, one of the country’s largest nurses’ union organizations has released preliminary results of a survey they conducted on their members. 1,000 responses have been collected from their members in the state of California and found that a disturbingly high number of their nurses don’t know if their facility has a plan in place, nor do they have access to personal protective equipment to protect themselves in case of a verified case.
According to Bonnie Castillo, RN and executive director of National Nurses United:
“The survey results confirm what we have been hearing from nurses across the country: Hospitals are not prepared. This crisis highlights our country’s completely fractured health care system and failure to invest in public health. Facilities don’t have a plan, or they haven’t explained the plan, or they don’t have the supplies, equipment, and training to carry out any plan. The outcome of this chaos is that health care workers, patients, and the entire community are exposed to this virus and needlessly put at risk.”
Advocate for Staff Training and Resources
Are you one of those nurses, or could you be? If you participated in the survey, what would your answers be? Arm yourself with training, don’t wait for your facility to get started. Share your knowledge and resources with coworkers and management staff. If you don’t know what your facility’s plan is, ask! Nurses can be great catalysts for change, and sometimes the big engine of a healthcare facility needs a jump start to get running. You can give it that jump-start. You need to give it that jump start!
Coronavirus Resources for Nurses
Here at Elite Specialty Staffing, we don’t want you to have to wait for information, we want you prepared, so we’ve compiled a list of resources to get you started:
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has created a Current Interim Guidance webpage with downloadable information sheets and resource lists for healthcare providers and has also put together a Webinar titled “Strategies for Healthcare Systems Preparedness and Optimizing N95 Supplies” that can be found at this link.
- The CDC has also published a list of things you can do as a healthcare provider to protect yourself if you find yourself needing to provide care to a patient with coronavirus or suspected to have it. Taken directly from the CDC site, they are as follows:
- “Healthcare personnel caring for patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19 should adhere to CDC recommendations for infection prevention and control (IPC):
- Assess and triage these patients with acute respiratory symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19 to minimize chances of exposure, including placing a facemask on the patient and isolating them in an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR), if available
- Use Standard Precautions, Contact Precautions, and Airborne Precautions and eye protection when caring for patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19
- Perform hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand rub before and after all patient contact, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and upon removal of PPE, including gloves. Use soap and water if hands are visibly soiled
- Practice how to properly don, use, and doff PPE in a manner to prevent self-contamination
- Perform aerosol-generating procedures, including a collection of diagnostic respiratory specimens, in an AIIR, while following appropriate IPC practices, including use of appropriate PPE”
Additionally, the World Health Organization has put together a short online introductory course, available here titled, “Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response, and control”. For more resources on training courses, you can access the OpenWHO, an interactive training platform that is free. Now more than ever, we nurses need to prepare ourselves to be active in the role of prevention and education.
There’s a Need for More Travel Nurses for Coronavirus
Elite Specialty Staffing can link travel nurses to key positions in nursing and medical facilities across the nation, filling valuable vacancies to help stem the tide of the coronavirus. Facilities with adequate medical staffing and appropriate guidelines for dealing with an outbreak can transition from being vulnerabilities in the face of the coronavirus to being a staunch frontline to prevent further spreading. Your role as a travel nurse is vital to keep medical and nursing facilities across our nation working at adequate staffing levels to combat the coronavirus.
We also place nurses for PRN shifts in Boise, Idaho and the surrounding areas. If you aren’t ready to take a travel assignment but believe in doing something to help, a PRN shift in your area once a week could make a huge difference. Give us a call today at 208-378-1338 to discuss your options and how you could help.
We have the connections, and our country has the need. Do we have you?