The pandemic has been challenging for everyone. However, frontline workers have been struggling to keep up with the expanding workload. Nurses and doctors have been working tirelessly in ensuring our safety and making sure the healthcare sector remains as strong as ever.
Looking particularly at the nurses, we should acknowledge the work they’ve put in and how their efforts were pivotal in controlling the virus’s spread. Here’s a list of ways they became our frontline heroes during the crises:
1. Exceptional Patient Care: When the pandemic struck, the health sector had limited knowledge on how to tackle the disease. Researchers studied the disease, whereas nurses had to deal with the infected patients.
They had to assess, monitor, and record symptoms during regular intervals and administer emergency care when needed. Such as putting patients on a ventilation system while they struggle to breathe.
They are also responsible for testing patients for the virus by taking a swab of their throat and repeating several patients’ processes. They then need to make quick decisions and quarantine patients who test positive from other patients. Nurses are also the frontline workers to combat infectious diseases and put preventative measures in hospitals to ensure they don’t occur.
2. Preventative Measures: Nurses are necessary for implementing measures in a hospital system. It includes introducing social distancing methods and informing the staff on caring for themselves and interacting with patients. It also includes providing the hospital with helpful information such as coronavirus symptoms.
Nurses are also most suitable for this endeavor as they’re highly skilled in their profession. They go through rigorous education such as online DNP programs, giving them a deep understanding of protocols and their implementation.
3. Allocating Resources and Medical Supplies: The pandemic made it challenging to manage all the resources. There was a widespread shortage of crucial medical equipment in gloves, masks, and hand sanitizers. It became essential to manage them and be rigid when it comes to using them.
Such as listing all the tasks a nurse needs to do while visiting a patient in isolation. Keeping an eye on the inventory helps ensure hospital resources aren’t falling short and there is no need to apply for funds.
4. Sanitation Standards: Sanitation became mandatory to tackle the pandemic. According to WHO, the COVID-19 virus remains on surfaces such as counters, mobile phones, and shelves for hours.
Sometimes they may linger for hours, and disinfecting your area is necessary. It includes washing your hands frequently and using disinfectant sprays around every vicinity and available surface. Since nurses and doctors work near patients, they need to clean their hands and consistently wear protective gear.
5. Working Overtime: Nurses had to pull extra shifts because of the pandemic. Several healthcare workers fell ill, and there was a pressing need to pick up extra shifts to make up for the lost workforce.
In severe cases, nurses in retirement had to return, which became extraordinarily tiring and stressful work. Working overtime makes it hard to look after yourself and see your families. It could be emotionally and mentally draining for most.
Problems Nurses Face at Work
While nurses are caring and looking after the general population, they put their own lives at risk. Without knowing how well their physical health can handle and simultaneously struggle to keep their mental and emotional health in check. Here are some risks they may face:
1. They May Get the Infection: While working with patients, nurses may contract the virus themselves. Despite following protocols, exposing yourself to the virus for an extended period increases the risk of contracting the virus. Hospitals have been trying to procure better and safer equipment. Nurses should be as cautious as possible and take care while moving in between patients.
2. They May Get Burnout: Nurses are working around the clock with little to no breaks in between. Often they’re pulling extra shifts and working through the weekend. Lack of rest and lack of hydration makes them susceptible to fatigue. They may even collapse while working and compromise their health. Burnout is an extreme case of fatigue. It may become difficult to remain productive as the body and mind demand rest.
3. Emotional Distress: Nurses may be away from their homes and families for a long time. Lack of care and attention can be too emotionally distressing. Simultaneously, watching their friends or loved ones pass in front of them can mentally take a toll and make them extremely upset. With the extensive workload, they may not get time to talk to their colleagues or find a support system for themselves.
How Can Hospitals Help?
As much as hospitals needed nurses on the frontlines, they need to understand their health and safety. Hospitals need to set a system that ensures they do not burden nurses with work and saturate the health sector with more cases. Here’s how they can help:
1. Understand The Staff Needs A Break: A break entails getting time to rest and eat meals. It would help set up a rotation chart to ensure a nurse works with another nurse on a break and switch after a while. Give them time to contact home and talk to their families since allowing them to go home may not be an option.
2. Dispose of PPEs Properly: While providing PPEs to nurses, it is also essential to dispose of the used ones. Since the virus can survive on surfaces, the PPE must be discarded properly.
3. Ask For Volunteers: The only way to work through understaffing is to find more workers. It will help if you ask people to volunteer and aid nurses in their work. Anyone with medical knowledge, such as a public health worker, can become a part of the system and lend a hand.
Nurses are a critical asset to the healthcare sector. Their dedication and commitment to their work made it possible to survive the pandemic thus far. They are exceptionally talented when it comes to looking after their patients. They are good at managing resources and know-how to take care of the inventory. Nurses are also essential for setting emergency protocols and setting a standard for sanitation. Additionally, they remain fundamental in spreading awareness and keeping the sector informed. They may also face problems at work such as distress and burnout, and catching the virus, and only hospitals can help them through.