April 7, 2020 is the day to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy. Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies. Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response.
World Health Day 2020 will highlight the current status of nursing and around the world. WHO (World Health Organization) and its partners will make a series of recommendations to strengthen the nursing and midwifery workforce.
This will be vital if we are to achieve national and global targets related to universal health coverage, maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases including mental health, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety and the delivery of integrated, people-centered care, amongst others.
This year’s World Health Day will include the launch of the first ever State of the World’s Nursing Report 2020. The report will provide a global picture of the nursing workforce and support evidence-based planning to optimize the contributions of this workforce to improve health and wellbeing for all. The report will set the agenda for data collection, policy dialogue, research and advocacy, and investment in the health workforce for generations to come. A similar report on the Midwifery workforce will be launched in 2021.
While speaking with Marilee Hazeltine, a Registered Nurse for 30 years she explained how the COVID pandemic has affected the way she interacts with her patients: “Covid-19 quarantines have changed the way I “see” patients. We already used telehealth technology for Provider services to some extent. However, with quarantine measures , we have extended these services to include outreach such as health assessments and wellness self management classes via telehealth.
A few patients require injections that are long-acting antipsychotics. If these patients “pass” the covid-19 screen they are invited to come in to the office for injection administration.
Any face to face interaction requires PPE now, i.e. mask in addition to gloves when administering an injection.
Patients have the potential to have exacerbation of psychiatric symptoms during a national crisis so our clinicians are following up on their caseloads via phone as well as using audio/ video Zoom for counseling sessions.”
Former Jamestown resident and WCA Emergency Department nurse Marijana Waite now lives in New York City and works at one of NYC’s hospitals. When we spoke, Marijana likened life in the ER of the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States to a never ending episode of the twilight Zone. “COVID19 care is unfolding rapidly and I feel like I am learning something new about patient management everyday. My critical care knowledge is enhanced, however it’s at a rapid firing pace. At this point, it’s affecting my interaction with patients and colleagues. I am very aware of my personal space but keeping my distance is not aligned with my personality. Because we need to conserve supplies, when possible I will gather everything together and complete tasks at one time .The hardest part is that no visitors are permitted. This is of paramount importance to keep everyone safe. However this means that patients are alone for most of their ED stay. Imagine being so sick that you’re life is on the line and you can’t have a loved one to hold your hand and comfort you.
I work with a compassionate and brilliant group of doctors. I am beyond impressed with our disaster management setup. Our ambulance parking lot has transformed into a COVID treatment area for non-critical individuals. Our waiting room has been transformed into a patient holding area for admitted stable patients awaiting their inpatient room. The main ED only has critically ill patients and most of them are intubated. As a team we have adapted to the extreme high acuity and high volume of patients.The last 3 weeks have been challenging. No matter the role, environmental, security, nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, unit clerks, administration, we are bearing witness to circumstances nobody should experience.”
Hopes For The Future
My hope for healthcare for the near future is for the quarantine to actually reduce the number of Covid-19 cases. However there is no way to quantify the saved lives definitively. We can just advocate for social distancing and hope the lives lost are minimal compared to the “chart projections “.
“My hope for healthcare in general is to approach it from a global health community perspective. Let us heed the recommendations of epidemiologists and scientists.” says Marijana, “ As a country I feel like we did heed the recommendations of experts, yet as individuals, many of us did not take COVID19 seriously and it’s manifested by the number of individuals who have been infected and by those who have died.”
How can you help?
Stay safe. Stay inside. Follow all of the CDC and WHO guidelines.Be kind to one another during these trying times. Show nurses and midwives your appreciation for their work and thank them for what they do to keep us healthy. Call on local leaders to do more to support nurses and midwives and make investments that enable them to work to their full potential.