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Nurses Take COVID-19 Concerns to President Trump

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   March 19, 2020

Nurse leaders from around the nation called for a focus on nurses' safety during the pandemic.

During a March 18 White House meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the Coronavirus Task Force, nurse leaders discussed issues pertaining to nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representatives from 12 national nursing organizations including the American Academy of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the American Nurses Association, spoke with officials about nurses' impact on public health, the need to protect nurses from the virus, and role nurses play in properly educating others about the outbreak.  

"It is imperative we recognize that nurses are our most valuable resource in fighting this pandemic," Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, The Academy's president said a news release. "They are tasked with making real-time, difficult decisions on the ground in rapidly evolving, uncertain circumstances so full-scale support of our nurses is essential."

Suzanne Miyamoto, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer of The Academy, emphasized the importance of protecting the most vulnerable populations, supporting nurses on the frontlines, and increasing access, scale, speed, and accuracy of testing, the news release stated.

"It is imperative that as a nation we come together collectively to flatten the curve by aggressively practicing and promoting social distancing. We have to help the public understand that they cannot take this lightly. Clear, consistent, and fact-based communication about this grave situation is vital," Miyamoto said in the statement.

Additionally, The Academy highlighted the importance of active monitoring and testing to prevent the spread of the virus.

Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, emphasized the need for the safety of those battling COVID-19.

"As we look at the challenge before us, it is imperative that the safety of the public, our nurses, and our nursing students, are top of mind," said Trautman in remarks prepared for the briefing. "AACN's member deans, faculty, and students are leaders in their communities who are committed to ensuring that our nation remains healthy and strong through the duration of this public health challenge. AACN looks forward to working with the administration to address the needs of the nursing workforce."

Debbie Hatmaker, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief nursing officer at the American Nurses Association, took the opportunity to urge the administration to provide a sufficient supply of appropriate personal protective equipment for nurses and to share the need for creative staffing strategies to sustain the nursing workforce so they can continue to provide care during this pandemic, reports the association's news release.

"Our number one priority is keeping frontline health care professionals, including our nurses, healthy by making sure they have the personal protective equipment they need," Hatmaker said in a news release.  "If frontline professionals are put into danger and become sick, it will exacerbate the crisis in the U.S., much like we have seen happen in China and Italy. ANA stands ready to work with all stakeholders to solve this crisis, but without proper personal protective equipment our job will become immensely more difficult, leading to more deaths and even further damage to our nation."

According to the news release, Hatmaker touched on the following points during the meeting:

  • Alignment of CDC guidance with OSHA guidance that affirms N95 use.
  • Support for incentives to ramp up production of N95 respirators plus easing restrictions on the export and distribution of PPE and other medical supplies.
  • Promoting the use of telehealth technologies to provide care, reduce exposures, and preserve PPE and other facility resources during this emergency.
  • Adjusting nurse staffing plans in real-time based on the number of COVID-19 cases within a facility and patient needs.
  • Implementing creative staffing strategies that utilize nurses who are currently not in direct patient care and senior nursing students to help meet patient demand.
  • Removal of barriers to testing and treatment to aid in the early identification and treatment of infected individuals.

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

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