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ANA advocates safety and staffing for nurses and increased testing to combat COVID-19 #

SILVER SPRING, MD – Today, the American Nurses Associ­a­tion (ANA) Chief Nursing Officer Debbie Hatmaker, PhD, RN, FAAN, met with Presi­dent Donald J. Trump to urge the admin­is­tra­tion to provide a suffi­cient supply of appro­priate personal protec­tive equip­ment (PPE) 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. ANA was among 12 other nursing organi­za­tions attending the White House meeting. 

Echoing earlier letters from ANA to Congress, Dr. Hatmaker under­scored the critical role that nurses play in caring for patients and how taking steps to protect and sustain the nursing workforce and other front­line providers is essen­tial to ensuring the health care system has the capacity to care for the growing number of patients infected with coron­avirus (COVID-19).

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,” said Dr. Hatmaker. 

She shared stories of nurses reusing masks and relying on other materials to protect themselves, creating unsafe condi­tions that could negatively impact both nurses and patients. 

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,” said Hatmaker. 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.”

Key points highlighted by Dr. Hatmaker included: #

Safety: #

  • ANA calls for the highest level of respi­ra­tory protec­tion along with appro­priate training to protect health care profes­sionals. Noting that Centers for Disease Control and Preven­tion (CDC) guidance from March 10, 2020 is not consis­tent with Occupa­tional Safety and Health Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA) March 14, 2020 guidance affirming the use of N95 respi­rator or protec­tion that is higher, ANA called upon the CDC to align its guidance with OSHA guidance.
  • ANA supports the admin­is­tra­tion in encour­aging construc­tion compa­nies to donate N95 respi­ra­tors to health care facil­i­ties. ANA also proposes the U.S. govern­ment adopt a recom­men­da­tion from the World Health Organi­za­tion that incen­tivizes industry to ramp up produc­tion of N95 respi­ra­tors that meet the current OSHA guide­lines. Incen­tives can include easing restric­tions on the export and distri­b­u­tion of PPE and other medical supplies.
  • ANA promotes the use of telehealth technolo­gies to provide care, reduce exposures, and preserve PPE and other facility resources during this emergency. We encourage the admin­is­tra­tion to work with private insur­ance compa­nies to include advanced practice regis­tered nurses (APRNs) as quali­fied health care providers who can bill for telehealth services provided. 
  • ANA recom­mends adjusting nurse staffing plans in real time based on the number of COVID-19 cases within a facility and patient needs. Flexi­bility and additional assis­tance are neces­sary given the need to don and doff appro­priate PPE and for psycho­log­ical support during this time of high stress.
  • ANA suggests imple­menting creative staffing strate­gies that utilize nurses who are currently not in direct patient care and senior nursing students to help meet patient demand. For example, those with inactive licenses, school nurses, and senior nursing students could serve in drive-through testing, long term care facil­i­ties and in assis­tive roles. 
  • ANA advocates for the removal of barriers to testing and treat­ment, such as cost and access, to aid in the early identi­fi­ca­tion and treat­ment of infected individ­uals. ANA acknowl­edges having an increased testing capacity will result in more cases of COVID-19, but this early identi­fi­ca­tion will help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Staffing: #

  • ANA promotes the use of telehealth technolo­gies to provide care, reduce exposures, and preserve PPE and other facility resources during this emergency. We encourage the admin­is­tra­tion to work with private insur­ance compa­nies to include advanced practice regis­tered nurses (APRNs) as quali­fied health care providers who can bill for telehealth services provided. 
  • ANA recom­mends adjusting nurse staffing plans in real time based on the number of COVID-19 cases within a facility and patient needs. Flexi­bility and additional assis­tance are neces­sary given the need to don and doff appro­priate PPE and for psycho­log­ical support during this time of high stress.
  • ANA suggests imple­menting creative staffing strate­gies that utilize nurses who are currently not in direct patient care and senior nursing students to help meet patient demand. For example, those with inactive licenses, school nurses, and senior nursing students could serve in drive-through testing, long term care facil­i­ties and in assis­tive roles.

Capacity: #

  • ANA advocates for the removal of barriers to testing and treat­ment, such as cost and access, to aid in the early identi­fi­ca­tion and treat­ment of infected individ­uals. ANA acknowl­edges having an increased testing capacity will result in more cases of COVID-19, but this early identi­fi­ca­tion will help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

About the American Nurses Association #

The American Nurses Associ­a­tion (ANA) is the premier organi­za­tion repre­senting the inter­ests of the nation’s 4 million regis­tered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profes­sion by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environ­ment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more infor­ma­tion, visit www​.nursing​world​.org.