Basically, nurses have a duty to provide medical care for their patients. However, we can’t deny that this pandemic has shown just how integral its role is in the healthcare system. These professionals have gone over and beyond that primary duty to fight the pandemic from the frontline. We have seen them work longer hours to ensure that the surges in COVID-19 patients visiting hospitals are getting the services and care that they need while risking their own lives while at it. They have also used their skills and knowledge to sensitize communities on the best way to keep the virus at bay among other selfless acts. Here are four ways in which nurses are making positive changes during this pandemic:
1. Rethinking their living conditions
One of the signature features of the COVID 19 virus is its high transmissibility among people. This characteristic forced most front care nurses who live with vulnerable people including their young children, parents, or grandparents to temporarily vacate from their homes until the crisis is over. Most nurses moved into hotels, RV’s while some moved in with their colleagues to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their family members in case they contracted it at work. They have continually sacrificed their time with family to cater to the sick in the hospital.
2. Leveraging their qualifications and skills
For nurses to start practicing, they need to have acquired a degree and passed the RN exams to be certified in this profession. While at it, they are taught people skills on how to handle patients going through a health crisis. They also get equipped with skills on how to protect themselves and the people around them in case of a crisis such as the one that we are dealing with right now. At the moment we are observing a situation where the COVID 19 pandemic has challenged the nurses to utilize these skills to ensure that everyone receives the care that they need. We have already seen how nurses are utilizing the leadership skills and expert knowledge to maximize the narrow health disparity that exists to ensure that we have access to top-quality healthcare. The nurses are also using their skills to not only identify and treat COVID 19 but to bring closer universal healthcare (UHC) to us all.
3. Working longer shifts
Globally, there are shortages of healthcare providers particularly nurses. The global surge of COVID 19 has patients flocking the hospitals in search of treatment. Normally, in the nursing profession, work shifts are categorized into three eight-hour shifts in a day. But, with few nurses onsite to cater to these growing masses, we have observed nurses put in long shifts of up to twelve hours a day in the isolation wards to enhance the well-being of their patients. As they work around the clock in the isolation wards, they are also forced to wear personal protective equipment all the time in these settings, which causes them to experience discomfort and at times dehydration. Some also develop bloody marks around the face from wearing N95 masks for long hours. It is such positive selfless sacrifices that are contributing to patient recovery as the pandemic continues to claim many lives.
4. Nurses as “family and friends” to patients
When the COVID 19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, the nurses began to expand their roles from that of a caregiver. This came when patients in the isolation wards were prohibited from getting visits from their friends and family because of the risk of disease transmission. Nurses have had to wear the cap of family and friends to patients who have found themselves hospitalized for long durations. All this has been done to enhance the mental health of the patients so that they quickly recover. While some of them have recovered and left the hospital, there are instances where nurses have had to take the role of a spiritual leader to help patients who are in need of end-of-life care and support.
There is no doubt that nurses continue to make huge sacrifices that cost them their time and risk their health to make positive changes during this pandemic time. These frontline healthcare workers have had to rethink their living situations, utilize their skills, put in long hours at work, and serve as close kin to patients as they battle the pandemic. Frankly, there is no greater love for humanity than this!