Dr. Pam Lieske
College Writing II
24 December 2020
COVID-19 on Healthcare: A Nurses Perspective
COVID-19 has been an overwhelming battle this year for millions of Americans, especially healthcare workers. Currently, 16 million Americans have been infected with the novel virus, killing over 300,000 people. The United States underestimated the seriousness of COVID-19, while the death tolls continue to rise daily across the world. The United States was unprepared to handle the deadly virus quickly, causing PPE and medical equipment to hospitals and nursing homes to lack the needed support. According to Bastani et al., “access to PPE was restricted because of government failure to stockpile the necessary amount of disposable medical equipment. This was related to lack of domestic capacity to produce the equipment and problems accessing it internationally due to political-economic sanctions that were imposed on Iran by the USA and some European countries” (Bastani et al. 5).
The depletion of available PPE for healthcare workers is what influenced local designers and celebrity fashion designers to step up and help create face masks for healthcare workers. Taylor et al, mentions that “during widespread outbreaks of infectious disease, healthcare workers (HCWs) are often stigmatized by people in their communities; that is, HCWs have been feared, avoided, shunned, or ostracized due to public fear that HCWs are sources of infection (Taylor et al. 1). So, not only were patients impacted by the spread of the virus, but healthcare workers also began to show some psychological changes due to the fear of becoming infected themselves. Taylor et al. stated, “stigmatization adds an unnecessary burden to the lives of HCWs and can contribute to worker burnout” (Taylor et al. 1). With healthcare facilities having such high exposure to these communicable diseases, the fear is understandable. Healthcare workers frequently work hands-on with infectious and deadly diseases, so the possibility of being exposed to communicable diseases is not new. Knowing you have full-body protection will decrease the stress on these workers.
More than a quarter of nursing homes and hospitals begin to experience a massive shortage of staff, beds, and personal protective equipment. People working in healthcare begins to raise the concern of working with a newly discovered virus without the proper protection needed for safety. Eventually, manufacturers in the United States began the production of hand sanitizer, masks, gowns, and gloves to send across the country to help fight the spread of the virus. Many strategies continue to be implemented at a local and federal level to help reduce the spread of the virus. Governors from each state implemented shutdowns on businesses, limiting the number of individuals allowed in common areas, requiring each person to be 6ft apart from one another.
Businesses were required to place markers on the floors for distance. Pregnant women are not allowed any visits during the delivery, with some states requiring the spouse or partner to wait outside of the delivery rooms. Hospital staff watched an increasing amount of patients that were battling COVID-19, die alone. Due to the virus able to spread by contact, hospitals and healthcare facilities began placing restrictions and pausing all visits that were not considered end-of-life or hospice visit. The healthcare community and its workers continue to face challenges while the United States continues to have the highest number of cases for the COVID-19 outbreak with higher distress signs shown in healthcare workers. Regular hospital beds are now being converted to ICU beds with some states reaching a 90-100% capacity.
With many overwhelming changes and adjustments during the pandemic, outpatient clinics and specialty centers have paused all elective surgeries and non-emergent services. Patients are now giving the option to hold virtual or telemedicine appointments via the internet or telephone for preventive care or annual physicals. Many doctors have the option of communicating electronically through a secured application that houses your medical record. This offers convenience for the tech-savvy and safety for the high-risk patients who are afraid to leave their homes and contracting the virus. By offering virtual and telemedicine visits, staff members are less likely to become overworked and stressed from having increased caseloads of patients to care for that are in non-life-threatening conditions.
Workers can focus their attention on the high acuity patients needing urgent care. Hopefully, with the reduction in non-emergent visits, the hospital rate of transmission will soon decrease. With continued research, doctors know more about COVID-19 now than they did back in March 2020 when the virus first arrived in the United States. In mid-December 2020, a vaccine was produced within a year for COVID-19. This is something new since no vaccine has ever been produced or approved by the FDA in less than 4-5 years. Companies like, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) invested over 1 billion to support the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To test the effectiveness of the vaccine, a small number of healthy individuals underwent trials of the COVID-19 vaccine. Results from the studies showed healthcare workers that the vaccine had a 90% effective rate. High-risk healthcare workers in long term facilities and hospitals have priority in receiving the vaccination before the general public. The Center for Disease Control believes that if workers are being vaccinated first, the spread of the virus to patients from staff will decrease in numbers. While some healthcare personnel remains skeptical of the vaccination, others are excited about receiving it.
When the first shipment of the vaccination arrive in the United States on December 14, 2020, distribution started with hospitals and nursing homes. The COVID-19 will require a two-dose series according to the company Pfizer who produced the vaccination. Up until this day, there have been side effects from participants who agreed to receive the vaccination. As with any vaccinations, there are side effects, some less severe than others. Overall, the results of the effectiveness of the vaccine are hoped to be positive. Only time will tell, once data is analyzed and the number of positive cases starts to decline. The cost of the COVID-19 is free, reducing the concerns of cost for interested individuals. The government implemented resources and funding to make sure the cost of COVID testing and vaccination is free.
Hospitals and nursing homes begin to perform rapid COVID testing, that produced results within 15 minutes of having your nasal swab performed. With the rapidness of the newly developed COVID tests, healthcare workers are given the option to learn their results in 15 minutes. Rapid COVID-19 testing is a quick and convenient way to prevent workers from working full shifts while testing positive. The rapid form of testing is in the form of a nasal swab that is performed while staying in your vehicle to reduce viral spread. With any test, the rapid form has its cons. People report having false positives, leading them to go through standard lab testing, only to find out they were negative.
The main reason for false rapid results is “timing” and incorrect swabbing of the nasal area. The test sample requires a 15-minute wait before putting the sample into the machine for results. For people who show signs or symptoms of the virus to remain isolated without possibly causing a further spread. Due to everything that has happened during the year of the pandemic, healthcare workers are now being called healthcare heroes and essential workers. Hennekam et al., mentions “the recent COVID-19 pandemic has raised the visibility of health care workers to the level of public heroes. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has raised the visibility of health care workers to the level of public heroes” (Hennekam et al. 1).
Bastani, Peivand, et al. “Reflections on COVID-19 and the Ethical Issues for Healthcare Providers.” International Journal of Health Governance, Emerald Publishing Limited, 23 June 2020, www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJHG-05-2020-0050/full/html.
Depierro, Jonathan, et al. “Mount Sinai’s Center for Stress, Resilience, and Personal Growth as a Model for Responding to the Impact of COVID-19 on Health Care Workers.” Psychiatry Research, vol. 293, 2020, p. 113426., doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113426.
Hennekam, Sophie, et al. “From Zero to Hero: An Exploratory Study Examining Sudden Hero Status among Nonphysician Health Care Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 105, no. 10, 2020, pp. 1088–1100., doi:10.1037/apl0000832.
Iyengar, Karthikeyan, et al. “Learning Opportunities from COVID-19 and Future Effects on Health Care System.” Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, vol. 14, no. 5, 2020, pp. 943–946., doi:10.1016/j.dsx.2020.06.036.
Sheraton, Mack, et al. “Psychological Effects of the COVID 19 Pandemic on Healthcare Workers Globally: A Systematic Review.” Psychiatry Research, vol. 292, 2020, p. 113360., doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113360.
Taylor, Steven, et al. “Fear and Avoidance of Healthcare Workers: An Important, under-Recognized Form of Stigmatization during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders, vol. 75, 2020, p. 102289., doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102289.
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