Today’s news is flooded with material designed to keep consumers informed about the current health crisis due to COVID-19. Nurses and medical professionals around the world are risking their lives to ensure that people are staying safe and healthy. Many friends and family members have sacrificed so much to keep the world protected; this nurses’ week Blue Signal sought to provide the public with accurate and authentic information, right from the source.
Nurse A - Registered Nurse, Arizona
Nurse B - Infection Control Nurse, Nevada
How has your role and everyday tasks been impacted since COVID-19 began?
Nurse A: “The way we carry out doing our everyday tasks has changed but I still have my same job title.”
Nurse B: “Work has been multiplied by 3, high stress.”
Are you working directly with anyone exposed to COVID-19? If so, what processes are you implementing personally to reduce risk to yourself and your family?
Nurse A: “I work in an emergency room so I see a lot of patients coming in for different reasons. Most of our patients testing positive for COVID are asymptomatic and being swabbed for different purposes (we swab everyone before scheduling for surgery for example).
We are trying our best to adhere to contact and contact-droplet precautions for every patient we see (I.e. wearing masks - the one surgical mask that our hospital provides us with per day, whenever we perform any kind of patient care). When coming in contact with any suspected COVID patients, we use specially fitted masks that airborne pathogens cannot get through known as N-95 masks, as well as gowns to protect our clothing from the virus. The only other thing I’ve personally been doing is changing out my ‘dirty’ scrubs before leaving work.”
Nurse B: “Yes, and I am practicing meticulous hygiene by wearing my mask, wiping down everything with the disinfectant wipes, and changing my scrubs out when I get done with work.”
Can you paint a picture of what you're seeing across the country as critical care nurses deal with the pandemic? Are nurses seeing shortages of ventilators and PPE?
Nurse A: “Arizona specifically hasn’t declared a critical shortage of supplies, however, NY and other hot spots are having to implement algorithms to determine which patients' ventilators are rationed out to based on a sort of mortality/morbidity score.”
Nurse B: “Nurses are seeing an extreme shortage of PPE. There were not enough supplies for this pandemic, so the nation wasn’t prepared.
A lot of nurses are being put in extremely high-risk situations even just working at the hospital because they don’t have enough PPE to do the correct job donning and doffing.”
What are some ways that communities can support nurses/medical staff?
Nurse A: “Communities can support nurses and all hospital personnel by either doing their part by staying at home or complying with social distance/mask standards.”
Nurse B: “[Communities can support us by] putting out more coverage for the community on what is really going on during the COVID crises. The shortage of PPE is all covered up.”
What are some positive things that could come out of this situation?
Nurse A: “Positives may arise from this situation outside of the healthcare field, like the differences we are seeing in the environment and how non-medical employees are demonstrating to businesses that it isn’t necessary to physically ‘go to work’ to be productive.”
Nurse B: “This situation could teach us how to react when we have our next pandemic. There will be one. We’ll be much better prepared. And thinking outside the box when there are not enough gowns, gloves, masks...
What can we do to take care of patients but still halfway protect ourselves?”
Is your hospital/facility currently fully staffed for nurses, aides, and other workers?
Nurse A: “Our hospitals in Arizona are overstaffed for the most part as censuses are down due to fear of hospitals right now. It has been a challenge for hospitals to determine what the best course of action is - whether they take employee benefits away or start furloughing employees to be able to stay financially above water.”
Nurse B: “Yes. Because of COVID, we had to stop doing surgeries except for emergency surgeries, so we have fewer patients because of that, and because we only have COVID patients and extremely ill people. The minute we start doing elective surgeries again, we’re going to be short-staffed.”
What is one thing you would like the world to know to feel more informed about the current healthcare crisis?
Nurse A: “It is not a hoax nor a plandemic. The people the public call heroes don’t want this title. We just want to spend time with our families and loved ones without the stigma of being in close proximity to COVID like a front-line healthcare worker.
Some of my coworkers are not seeing their children due to fear of transmitting this virus. We want this over more than anyone but protesting and returning to normal life too soon is like taking antibiotics (ABX) and just stopping when you feel better vs. when the infection is wiped out.
We advise our patients to finish their course of ABX because if they do not, the infection is prone to getting worse and stronger since now it is antibiotic-resistant and that’s our biggest fear in regard to opening businesses up.”
Nurse B: “For years, we have been teaching that hand hygiene transmits most of the organisms and we have educated on that – wash your hands, wash your hands. And it took COVID to prove the point. We’ve been telling people to do this for years, but they need to know how important this is.”
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
Nurse B: “Interacting with patients.”
Nurses and medical professionals everywhere are speaking out to keep the greater population informed and safe. Armed with the right information, the bravery and determination shown by our healthcare workers can inspire people to join the field and promote change in future reformations.
To all of the nurses of the world: thank you for working around the clock to fight this global pandemic. It is clear that this battle is far from over. our compassion, bravery, and hard work are not unnoticed.
Looking for ways to help? Thank the healthcare heroes around you, many of whom do not want the title, but certainly have earned it. And do your part to reduce the spread by staying home, being prepared, and washing your hands.