All US states are suffering from the effects of Covid-19 to varying degrees, and the American nursing force is playing a huge role in curbing the situation as best as possible. As is to be expected from the biggest epidemic in a century, there are multiple problems popping up every now and then, making the job of medical professionals even more difficult than it already is. If you are currently working in the medical segment as a nurse, a doctor, or in any other active care role, you should be able to better relate with the two primary issues we are going to highlight today.
Shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
It’s true that the PPE shortage is not as bad right now as it was a few months ago, but it’s not something that has completely gone away either. This is particularly true in:
• Rural hospitals and healthcare centers
• Overburdened hospitals in major US cities
The real issue here is not only supply but also the available resources to avail those supplies. For example, consider the fact that an N95 respirator is capable of filtering out the coronavirus, but most of the FFRs are for one use only, especially in a medical care setting where the virus is known to be present. What that means is, in order to keep their staff safe, the hospital has to supply every direct care workers with at least one mask, every single day.
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Solution: Proper Sanitization and Reusage
The situation is creating severe budgeting issues for administrators and health problems for nurses in particular, given that they constitute the majority of any direct patient care team. A shortage of PPE will inevitably make some of the staff more vulnerable to an infection, thus putting their lives at risk.
There are, however, a few solutions to consider, and they are being employed by major and minor healthcare institutions all over the United States to meet their PPE shortage/budgeting issues presently. An N95 mask can be sanitized with UV-sanitizers, which are found to be effective against the novel coronavirus. This would allow the mask to be reused multiple times when there is a significant shortage. Reusage after proper decontamination can also be employed as a strategy to prevent a shortage from happening in the first place.
Of course, killing germs with UV-radiation is not a new process, but it wasn’t until only recently that the CDC had greenlit usage of UV sanitizers for decontaminating N95 masks. The same applies to all other PPE equipment as well. Civilians can use UV radiation to decontaminate their own masks and gloves too, which is a big relief for everyone, but especially for nursing professionals and those in charge of hospital administration. The CDC has detailed a lot of information lately regarding how to safely reuse masks by decontaminating them with moist heat packs and vaporous H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide).
An additional measure to counter the shortage would be setting a priority list for proper and adequate PPE allocation. Those that handle administrative duties and reception behind a potent germ shield could remain sufficiently protected by only wearing surgical/sewn masks and gloves for protection. The limited supply of N95 respirators could then be better distributed among the direct care professionals such as nurses and doctors since they are constantly and directly being exposed to the virus.
Handling Childbirth During an Epidemic
Pregnant women and newborns can be more susceptible to the coronavirus, especially if the mother already has diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, asthma, cancer, HIV, or any other known disease/deficiency that might empower the viral infection. This means that every time a child is delivered in any healthcare setting, the delivery has to be completed with an element of risk to the newborn and the mother. Even if the maternal ward is completely sealed off from the others, there will always be the risk of infection on account of the following reasons:
• Most hospitals are already shorthanded, which means that some doctors and nurses might be caring for Covid-19 patients and those in the maternity ward
• Even with the best decontamination procedures in place, the highly susceptible nature of newborns makes them vulnerable
• One or more pregnant women could be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus, which would compromise the whole ward
Solution: More Midwives
There is a significant rise in demand for experienced midwives with a DNP across the entire nation now, creating highly paid job opportunities. Experienced maternity ward nurses and present midwives should consider an accredited online midwifery school to complete their DNP in Nurse-Midwifery now, so that they can better handle the crisis and save the lives of innocents. To understand why this is considered to be a solution against maternity ward Covid-19 infections, we will have to take a look at the following points:
• A midwife typically stays in the maternity ward alone and does not come in direct contact with Covid-19 patients from other wards
• A Doctor of Nursing Practice in Midwifery is a specialized professional who is trained and educated to handle this specific responsibility
• As a result, a single DNP midwife alone can handle more responsibilities than multiple average maternity ward nurses
• They are trained enough to even manage the absence of doctors in a maternity ward
• The highly qualified midwife can deliver children on their own in times of emergency
• In states where they are given full practice authority (FPA), they can even run their own maternity clinics
• Exclusive maternity clinics run by DNP midwives reduce the chances of infection among newborns and their mothers
• Their advanced training, education, and experience allows them to assume leadership roles in maternity clinics and wards, ensuring better nursing administration
There is no one-stop solution for the problems, and the best possible way to tackle them would be to take a dynamic approach. Face the problems as they pop up, and to do so in the most appropriate manner possible, but prepare for such possibilities beforehand. Knowing and anticipating issues before they occur should provide nurses with an upper hand in dealing with the situations to the best of their abilities and with the available resources.