We all know one or more Filipino nurses – so sharing this important information.
I find that nothing is more powerful than hearing the stories of our nurses during this pandemic crisis. This website has some of these powerful stories from nurses around the globe, sharing their experiences of caring for COVID19 patients: Nursespeak.com
PPE: Nurses continue to lack Personal Protective Equipment: A recent survey showed that 75% of staff in home-care settings are lacking in PPE. Home Care Survey. 86% of healthcare systems are also concerned with having adequate PPE available: PPE shortages
Political unrest emerges even as nurses remain on the front lines of providing care for patients during the pandemic. Nurses rose to the occasion to stand their ground in the face of protestors. Nurses Urge Protestors to Stay Home
National Nurses United organized a nation-wide May-Day protest about lack of PPE: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/may-day-protest-nurses-ppe/
Nurses also took action by protesting outside of the Whitehouse on April 21 and reading aloud the names of nurses who died from contracting COVID19 in the workplace: Nurses Whitehouse Protest
And nurses are still speaking up, even if it puts their jobs at risk: Hospitals fire and suspend staff for speaking out
Nurses deaths: The virus continues to take its toll on nurses and other professionals. Issues around post-trauma recovery are now coming to light. Healthcare workers may be feeling hopeless or helpless or suffering clear PTSD symptoms. Sadly we have lost some professionals to suicide: NYPost tragic deaths.
If you need help please reach out. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
A Missouri nurse, Celia Yap Banago, who raised concern about lack of PPE died of COVID19. Nurse Banago had worked as a nurse for 40 years and was literally days away from retirement.Nurse Banago
New York State Nurses Association houses a memoriam page to nurses lost to COVID 19. NYSNA memoriam page The retired executive director of the National Student Nurses Association is counted in the losses: Rest in Peace Robert V. Piemonte, EdD, RN, FAAN.
To all of the nurses taking action, thank you for stepping up.
Ongoing Issues: By now, most of us know the obvious: nurses and other healthcare professionals do not have the PPE that they need to practice safely. Nurses are testing positive for COVID19. The Defense Production Act has not been activated to produce more PPE and ventilators, and nurses and other providers are even fired for speaking out about it or organizing ways to access more PPE (Doctors and Nurses Fired for Speaking Out ).
Nurses’ Skill Level: Nurses are worried about being asked to do work they aren’t prepared to do. A former student of mine, who has been in more of an administrative role, is extremely concerned with being asked to go back into a hands-on medical surgical or even ICU in a supportive role. Practicing beyond one’s skill level or expertise is just one area of concern that is likely to grow as more nurses become ill, or refuse to work, or are otherwise unable to work.
Volunteer calls: From California to NYC to Maine, nurses are being asked to submit their names to volunteer to work. Most of these nurses will be paid, and it is an effort to organize our resources.
Nurses on the Front Line: The stories I am hearing from nurses are war-time hell-like, maybe even worse then you have heard of if you don’t have direct contact with nurses on the front line.
An example is a story a friend of mine posted from his friend in NYC: in the ER, there may be 7-10 COVID+ vented patients waiting for ICU placement. Some patients are lying on the floor in the ER because there are no beds. People are being taken to rooms on the floors and passing away before they even get seen by a nurse on that floor. Medications like propofol, ketamine, versed, and fentanyl are being run without pumps because there are no more pumps. Supplies are running out. Med Surg nurses are being forced to run drips and vents that they have not been trained on.
Pay Issues: In Utah, nurses and doctors are being asked to take pay cuts, and there is concern that this will create a great deficit of providers in this state when professionals go elsewhere to work (Utah’s largest medical provider announces pay cuts). Meanwhile, note this lovely NYC serene skyline shot, with pay that must recognize the obvious inherent hazard pay for these positions.
(nurses recruitment add, contact information removed)
Populations and Outcomes:
Much preventative and maintenance care for those with chronic and even acute illnesses is now taking a back seat. A positive note is that telemedicine and telehealth are being used much more widely, and this may have a favorable effect on how we care for populations in the future.
Dr. Chinn forwarded a first-hand account to me of a nurse who is working in Brooklyn. She is concerned about how this illness is impacting Latinx populations, as they are often members of “essential worker” populations, and they also live in large households. This nurse states that these patients are at higher risk for death, and often experience death with less dignity. She also sees all staff getting sick, from direct care providers to janitors, and patient care technicians.
Anecdotally, in one social media group, I heard the nurses estimating that survival rate once a patient is ventilated is only around 14-20%. This is devastating to be surrounded around so much futile care and facilitating so much end of life care without perhaps the time and space it requires to do this well. (Edited: national statistics show a recovery rate of about 50% post ventilator initiation).
Heartbreak: I am hearing heartbreaking stories of nurses sending off their children to grandparents or ex-spouses, so they won’t be exposed in the household should the nurse become sick themselves or accidentally contaminate the household. Nurses who can’t hug or hold their loved ones are aching inside every day. Nurses dying. Nurses looking around at their colleagues and they might wonder, who will be the next to not be at work, which one of us might end up in the ICU? Nurses may know that much of the care they are providing is futile or palliative, which creates moral distress. I am very concerned when I hear of nurses working multiple shifts, with one nurse posting that she had worked 13 shifts in a row, another posting about minimal sleep, and losing 10 pounds already. They don’t have time to eat and when they go shopping, the stores are lacking in supplies. There is no question in my mind that nurses are being put at greater risk not only due to exposure, but also due to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual stressors.
Post-Traumatic Stress: We could say nurses are stressed, or maybe we should just be truthful and say that nurses are being traumatized. I have great fears of nurses leaving the profession after this, and I also have great fears about the health of the population in general. I am fearful for those on the front lines without access to proper PPE. This sort of chaos we are experiencing may lead to positive change eventually, but for now, it’s extremely uncomfortable, painful, confusing, infuriating, and even disorienting.
We need to take good care of ourselves and take good care of one another.
I am reaching out with loving-kindness to all nurses:
May all nurses be safe
May all nurses be at ease
May all nurses be loved
May all nurses know personal healing
I heard from a friend of mine who is a nurse; her sister is a nurse who is now off from work because she became very ill with COVID19 after just a few days of working.
I’ve seen nurses in social media posts fashioning PPE from garbage bags and using plain cloth gowns.
I’ve been told nurses are now putting cloth masks over N95 masks (no evidence that this helps and it may actually harm). There is talk on social media of nurses washing or autoclaving or UV sterilizing N95s, although all of these actions likely degrade the masks or render them useless.
The World Health Organization’s guidelines clearly state to not use cloth masks and to not reuse single-use masks. You can download the guidelines here. https://www.who.int/publications-detail/advice-on-the-use-of-masks-in-the-community-during-home-care-and-in-healthcare-settings-in-the-context-of-the-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov)-outbreak?fbclid=IwAR2NRGtIs9AIIeI2HWiA5ZnOu4DoQL3GBOr40AvEJxul3Gms8RnQPb_ORCg
Through the social media grapevine, I heard that a health system in California has notified unionized nurses that they can be fired for choosing to wear their own N95s masks in the workplace. The systems standards of care and use of PPE around COVID19 positive and presumptive positive appears to have degraded due to lack of PPE and CDC claims. I could not verify this, but below is the circulation of the information.
Lastly, I received notice today that the American Academy of Nursing joined the ANA, AHA, and AMA calling upon the president to enact the Defense Production Act’s authorities in order to ensure that all healthcare providers have PPE and the needed medical equipment to care for people.
You can take similar action; all of the links to contact your legislative representatives and the President are in yesterday’s update posting.
Wishing you wellness and peace.
Today in social media land, nurses state that they are being told to not use PPE for MRSA and VRE and other contact precaution patient care situations. I think we all know the dire implications around this.
Some are claiming that in other countries they have contacted nurses and doctors who do have access to adequate PPE.
Additionally, many are discussing at what point do you refuse to work because you don’t have proper PPE, or any PPE at all. Some nurses are grateful to be working and still have an income, others are worried and exhausted, some haven’t seen their kids or family in a week out of fear of exposing them to COVID19.
There are private companies that are helping hospitals and healthcare systems access more PPE for their needs. A former state legislator from Maine, Diane Russell, has been working as a broker to help state legislators from Massachusetts to procure PPE. So, instead of the federal government helping to ensure that the people on the front lines are protected, states and healthcare systems are having to turn to private organizations for assistance in just finding PPE: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/21/metro/message-maine-massachusetts-yields-much-needed-medical-supplies/? I do not know much about the company, I don’t know if the pricing is fair, but I do know they are able to provide many with PPE. https://noblemedicalsupply.com/products
It’s still early on the east coast, but I am not expecting the president to take action on the Defense Production Act today. I implore you to do the grassroots things and contact our representatives.
Be direct and clear; state your name, where you live, your contact information, your profession, and that you are asking them to ensure that the federal government takes action on the Defense Production Act so that healthcare workers have access to Personal Protective Equipment and patients have access to ventilators.
I suggest both phone and email messaging. I suggest leaving messages with the president’s office, and each of your representative federal lawmakers. It took me about 30 minutes to organize myself, write out my message, and both call and email the president, my governor, my federal legislators.
The full list of how to contact all of your federal and state lawmakers is found here on this main landing page: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
This link takes you to your house of representatives legislator and provides phone and email contacts: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
This link takes you to the senator’s contact information: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
It’s also important to contact your state government and aks them to request that the federal government take action. You can find your state government links here: https://www.congress.gov/state-legislature-websites and also from the main landing page, including your governor’s information.
*Thanks to those of you who dialogued and posted yesterday, though I haven’t had the energy to respond. I am trying to take good care of myself, as I still have a sore throat, headache, runny nose, body aches, no fever. All of the symptom checkers say it’s not COVID19. I wish you all wellness and peace.