Watkins Sally WSNA final

Sally Watkins, PhD, RN

The following state­ment comes from Sally Watkins, PhD, RN, execu­tive director of the Washington State Nurses Association:

Nurses are on the front­lines of caring for patients, including those with COVID-19. Nurses feel a tremen­dous profes­sional and ethical calling to care for every patient, and they are doing just that. We are all working together under extra­or­di­nary circum­stances to deal with this public health crisis in our state.”

At the same time, we need to ensure that nurses and other health care workers are getting the needed protec­tive equip­ment to do their jobs safely. We continue to hear from WSNA members who say they are not getting the protec­tive equip­ment and timely infor­ma­tion they need. We under­stand that this is a rapidly evolving situa­tion, but the questions and concerns of front­line caregivers need to be addressed as promptly as possible.”

Nurses are confused. Not only do hospi­tals continue to play catch-up on proto­cols for handling suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, but they are hearing conflicting guidance on issues such as neces­sary Personal Protec­tive Equip­ment to do their jobs safely. While we believe that N95 respi­ra­tors provide the best protec­tion for our nurses and other health care workers, many infec­tious disease experts are now reporting that due to the droplet trans­mis­sion of COVID-19, surgical masks may be used. We need to ensure adequate supplies of all neces­sary PPE are avail­able including N95 respi­ra­tors for aerosolized procedures.”

These issues are of concern to our members, and we are contin­u­ally advocating for the needs of nurses on the front­lines with public health and govern­ment officials. We’re working to ensure our members have the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion from the CDC, the Depart­ment of Health and local public health depart­ments. We have also provided infor­ma­tion to the Washington State Hospital Associ­a­tion regarding specific concerns and trust that they are working with their members to ensure proper proto­cols are followed.”

It is very impor­tant for the public to know that everyone is working jointly – and very hard – to ensure that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is being responded to in the best and most rapid way possible. This is an extra­or­di­nary public health emergency and calls for our commu­nity to work together.”