As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in the United States, as critical care nurses we are being pushed to the limits to care for those in need and or affected by COVID-19. Physically and mentally exhausted, we face a new challenge, in addition to the virus, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is putting the health and safety of our patients, our loved ones and ourselves at an increased risk. AACN President Megan Brunson and AACN President-elect Elizabeth Bridges talk about the scarcity, evidence and efforts to advocate for PPE.
Hi everyone. My name is Megan Brunson, and I'm President of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
And I'm Liz Bridges. I'm the President-Elect of AACN, and I'm out in Seattle, Washington.
We know that there is a great concern over the scarcity of PPE, and it's frightening for all of us. There's planning at all levels of government from city to state. But yesterday we had the wonderful opportunity to be invited to the White House. Dr. Terry Davis, who understands the clinical practice and the realities of the bedside, was able to sit in a round table discussion representing us, AACN. She clearly articulated and looked directly into the eyes of President Trump and Vice President Pence, the needs of nurses and their patients from IV pumps to ventilators, to the need for personal protective equipment when taking care of COVID patients.
Your voice is being heard. We know what you are dealing with and the realities of the bedside. However, in the past few days, there has been, Liz, this discussion of bandanas and homemade masks. Where exactly is the evidence? Where do we go?
Yeah. You know, Megan, when I first heard the recommendation about the bandana, I saw it, I came across a blog, and my first reaction was, "You have got to be kidding me." But I think the thing I went back to is, "Where's the evidence? What's the evidence?" That's who we are already; we're evidence-based. So I went back, and I looked at the actual CDC webpage, and it's a single page on there that outlines the recommendations for PPE. It takes you through not only what the levels of PPE are but what happens if we get into a contingency or even worse, a crisis situation where we are critically staffed with critical resources. In the very last paragraph, on this whole thing is, if you have exhausted absolutely everything else, not only in your own hospital but your community, this is really the last step. But you need to really read this whole one page, understand it in the context, the evidence, and understand it in the context of sort of this tiered response.
We are not out of PPE out here. Now, I know some communities where it may be scarce. So I think this is our chance to be innovative but innovative in an evidence-based way. One of our healthcare systems out here in the Seattle area has put up what they're calling a million mask challenge. But what they did was they figured out what's the materials that have to go into those masks so that if we give those to the healthcare providers, they're actually being protected. So I think this is our place to be innovative, but it's to be innovative in an evidence-based way so that we make sure we're taking care of everybody.
Yeah. I've seen some also, ideas out there, where nurses have come together to really think about how we're using our PPE and take into the accountability of how many patients are entering a room during a code. Even putting the IV pumps outside of the room, using extension tubing. I think all of these ideas are wonderful and help us limit the use of PPE until we get that stockpile that we need.
Yeah, it is about having that conversation, and I think it's not only about having a conversation for the nurses, but we need to have that conversation with our patients and our families now, so they understand what we're doing, why we're doing what we're doing. It's not that we're changing the standard of care, it's just that we're going to give care a little differently, and we need to understand that.
Right. I just want to, I don't know, do a shout out and really let the nurses know that we are committed to you and the patients and that COVID-19 is not going to let us get in the way of taking care of the most vulnerable. Thank you for all you're doing in the community that you're serving in and taking care of the sickest of the sick.