When the coronavirus outbreak hit in March of 2020, resulting in the Covid-19 pandemic, the world’s sense of reality dramatically shifted. Suddenly, wearing facial masks became an everyday practice while staying six feet away from other people became the new norm.
But how did this anomaly affect the United States healthcare industry? How were American nurses impacted? Here is a detailed look at healthcare, nursing, and the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Five Domains of Frontline Healthcare Professionals During Covid-19
Nurses have five domains for which they are responsible during the pandemic. The domains include:
- Providing healthcare education, screening services, and support for public individuals in high-risk categories.
- Nosocomial infection prevention and surveillance.
- Implementing appropriate preparedness and precautions in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
- Protection of patients with immune deficits or underlying diseases.
- Providing care to patients with Covid-19 who are in an acute or critical condition.
Economic Impact of Covid-19
In the United States, over 120 hospitals have furloughed workers due to the coronavirus outbreak. Health care facilities and private practices have had to close, reduce hours, implement furloughs, and layoff physicians, nurses, and staff.
But how is this possible?
- Hospitals and clinics have had a reduction in the number of in-person clinic visits due to social distancing.
- Hospitals and clinics have put elective procedures and surgeries on standby to prepare for Covid-19 patient loads.
Surgeries in the United States have reduced by 50%. Hospitals bring in more revenue from elective procedures and surgeries than they do from emergency rooms and intensive care units.
On average, hospitals lose $3,000 for every Covid-19 patient they have due to their length of stay and the intensity of required resources.
The variance analyses (or budgeting analyses) of many healthcare systems did not anticipate the extra money they would have to spend, so it was not included in their yearly budgets when the fiscal year started at the beginning of July 2020.
Their accounts did not anticipate the closure of money-making units (such as operating rooms, interventional radiology, and outpatient services).
Their budgets also did not plan on high burn rates on personal protective equipment (PPE), medications, and other supplies that are difficult to obtain and are currently more expensive.
Examples include surgical masks, which have increased by 6x their pre-Covid-19 standard value, gowns have doubled in cost, and N95 respirators have tripled.
This unfavorable variance analysis affects two central issues: nursing staffing and the required supplies needed for the massive influx of patients with Covid-19.
Psychological Impact of Covid-19
As frontline workers, nurses have had the most important and impactful job during the pandemic. But many suffer from burnout and other emotional and mental symptoms.
In the United States, over 600 healthcare workers have died from the Covid-19 virus.
In a 2020 study, of 32,000 nurses, 87% feared going to work, 36% had cared for an infected patient without PPE, and a mere 11% believed that they were well-equipped to care for Covid-19 patients.
Throughout the outbreak, nurses have experienced:
- Lack of emotional support
Nurses also reported that physical and mental exhaustion, a lack of knowledge, and sometimes a lack of skill to care for Covid-19 patients adequately resulted in negative emotions and psychological trauma.
Nurses’ mental health and overall well-being need attention and consideration during this time.
Job Stress Management for Nurses
Nurses need to communicate with others about their job stress and share their feelings and emotions. They need to ensure they maintain consistent sleeping schedules and mealtimes.
Exercise is helpful while making time for hobbies outside of work is an excellent source of stress relief.
Nurses should take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news and the current Covid-19 statistics.
Nurses should practice mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, in addition to speaking with a mental health care professional.
Strategy Factors to Increase Nurse Retention
- Better support
- Adequate supplies (like PPE)
- Fair compensation
If the healthcare industry provided nurses with what they needed, it would gain more competent workers who can:
- handle complexity
- use enhanced decision making and critical thinking skills
- promote better communication with patients and healthcare professionals
- develop leadership skills
- prepare to work in evolving environments
During this particular time in history, nurses face different challenges. They need support to reduce gaps in critical knowledge about the virus. They need help to prevent inadequacies in the healthcare system and policies and procedures that prevent staffing shortages.
Nurses need psychological and social support, as do many other healthcare workers. Nurses want to enhance their knowledge of Covid-19 for prevention and management purposes.
In the healthcare industry, nurses are the frontline workers who fight Covid-19 and the heroes who help those suffering from it. While career opportunities for nurses have a great outlook, it’s important to understand the care it requires to sustain a career as a nurse especially during tough times like a pandemic.