COVID-19 has created a time of unpredictability and uncertainty in the healthcare industry. The number of confirmed cases is growing every day and hospitals nationwide are getting overwhelmed, pushing our systems toward capacity. New York state, the state with the highest confirmed cases in the world, is rapidly running out of ICU beds.
Meanwhile, nurses and healthcare professionals are on the frontline of this virus, handling any and all situations so they can provide the best care to patients. It’s incredibly stressful for nurses, and they need our support now more than ever. One RN offered some helpful tips for managing stress in a COVID-19 world, but it is also important for hospitals to play a role.
Here are four things hospitals can do right now to help nurses stay safe, relieve some of their burden, and help them to do their best work:
- Prioritize safety first: Given their constant exposure to infected patients, nurses are at high-risk for contracting the virus and taking it home to their families. To contain the virus in and out of medical centers, hospitals need to screen employees every day when they show up for work, testing them for fevers and other COVID-19 symptoms. In one region of Italy, 20% of healthcare workers have become infected with COVID-19. We need to learn from other countries and take every precaution to keep healthcare workers healthy and able to keep caring for others.
- Help with childcare solutions: As of March 18, 39 states have decided to close schools, affecting at least 42.1 million students. With schools closed, our healthcare workers need someone to care for their children while they’re at work. While some states, such as Oregon, have announced expanded child care benefits to cover more families during the response to coronavirus, nurses elsewhere are left having to choose between the care of their children and their patients. Hospitals can make this a non-issue by providing on-site childcare or giving stipends to cover the costs of outside childcare.
- Monitor nurse status and hours: As seen in Italy, nurses and doctors have been completely overwhelmed and overworked. One nurse – in an image that went viral – collapsed with her mask on after working 10 straight hours. In the U.S. many public officials such as Governor Cuomo of New York, are calling on former healthcare workers to return to hospitals and assist with patient overload and step in for nurses who have been exposed to COVID-19. Hospitals should not only be monitoring their current nurses’ schedules, but embracing new staff and helping them transition as quickly and efficiently as possible to support fellow nurses with the high demand in patient cases.
- Hire the right frontline staff: At a time like this, getting talent in the door is crucial. Incredible Health is here to help with your hiring needs. During the pandemic, states and cities are also creating their own policies to increase healthcare workers’ availability. Mayor London Breed of San Francisco announced a declaration that allows the Department of Public Health (DPH) to hire nurses and other frontline healthcare workers more quickly. The Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, also announced an executive order that will make it possible for licensed, out-of-state medical professionals and nurses to get licensed in one day to help with the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. One way to help nurses obtain their licenses quickly during these times is through Incredible Health’s recently launched free online continuing education platform. Additionally, there are a rapidly increasing number of resources and policies to help hospitals hire quickly. Be on the lookout regarding what your city and state are doing so you can be flexible to quickly increase on-boarding bandwidth.
There is a lot of uncertainty during this time, but what’s always a constant is making sure our nurses are safe and well-cared for so they can do their best work and live their best lives.