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Analysis

ICYMI: 4 COVID-19 Topics for Nurse Leaders

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   March 27, 2020

As the pandemic continues to challenge the public and the healthcare sector, nurse executives need to be armed with knowledge to make the right decisions.

The amount of information coming at healthcare leaders during this COVID-19 pandemic is enough to cause whiplash. It seems every hour of every day there is a new development. We know that as nurse leaders, your focus is on managing response to the COVID-19, supporting nursing staff, and leading your organization during this stressful time.

In this chaotic environment, you may not have had the chance to delve into all the COVID-19–related, solutions-based topics HealthLeaders has been sharing.  So, in case you missed them, here are four COVID-19 stories of interest to nurse leaders.
 

  1. COVID-19: EPA Releases List of Registered Disinfectants

As learned in the past weeks and months, the coronavirus can also be transmitted through contact with some surfaces— where it can remain viable for hours to days. Therefore, it’s best practice and necessary to clean and disinfect surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in healthcare facilities and other settings.

In response to concerns about emerging pathogens, the EPA developed its Emerging Viral Pathogen Guidance. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided many resources to assist healthcare facilities and other settings  in preventing the spread of the virus. The CDC’s COVID-19 guidance specific to certain industries is available here. 
 

  2. Coronavirus: 6 Measures to Sustain the Healthcare Workforce

As the COVID-19 situation ramps up, there continues to be an enormous amount of mental and physical pressure on the healthcare workforce.

According to a recent journal article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "The pressure on the global healthcare workforce continues to intensify. This pressure takes two forms. The first is the potentially overwhelming burden of illnesses that stresses health system capacity and the second is the adverse effects on healthcare workers, including the risk of infection," the article coauthors wrote.

To protect and support healthcare workers and their families, the authors recommend six measures. Read about the measures here.
 

  3. American Nurses Association Urges CDC to Develop Evidence-Based COVID-19 Guidelines

There has a been a grassroots movement encouraging the public to sew cloth face masks in the case of a disposable surgical mask shortage, and on March 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations and advised that facemasks for clinical providers are an acceptable alternative when there is a shortage of N95 respirators.

However, the American Nurses Association is calling the CDC to issue evidence-based PPE guidelines that focus on the transmission of COVID-19 rather than supply chain issues.

"It’s also concerning that these recommendations do not offer strategies to address the limited manufacturing and supply chain of necessary personal protective equipment," the association said in a news release. "While the interim recommendations may assist in preserving the supply of N95 respirators and other PPE, it could also confuse health care professionals considering appropriate levels of protection that may be needed when caring for a known or suspected patient."
 

  4. Despite Federal COVID-19 Stimulus, Many Hospitals Could Face Layoffs Within Two Months

According to recent research by Strata Decision Technology, without significant action from the federal government to relieve financial pressures related to the spread of COVID-19, hospitals will be forced to undergo drastic cost-cutting measures, including laying off "large numbers" of non-clinical workers.

Based on a proposed federal stimulus package that would raise the Medicare reimbursement rate by 20% for COVID-19­–related DRGs, Strata projects that hospitals will lose an average of $1,200 per case, with some providers losing between $6,000 to $8,000 on the high end.

Nearly all hospitals would lose an average of $2,800 per COVID-19 patient case if reimbursement rates aren't raised, according to Strata, with some losing between $8,000 to $10,000 per case. 

The study concluded that without a 35% reimbursement rate hike, many hospitals will exhaust cash flows within 60 to 90 days.

In addition to insufficient reimbursement rates for treating COVID-19 patients, Strata noted that hospitals are financially strapped due to the loss of elective surgeries, a primary source of revenue for provider organizations.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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