Nursing News Updates: Finishing Up the Year of the Nurse with a Bang
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As we move past the presidential election and head into holiday season, things haven’t been easy for nurses. Here we’ve put together a nursing news round up to give you the highlights about what is happening with nurses near and far.
Pennsylvania Nurses Plan Strike
The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) have announced plans for their nurses to go on strike from St Mary Medical in Langhorne on the 17th and 18th of November. Their union reported that their members, of whom over 775 are nurses, voted “overwhelmingly” to submit notice to strike. The aforementioned nurses unionized only last year, and have continued to have serious concerns regarding levels of staffing at the hospital.
The PASNAP president Maureen May, who is also a nurse said,
“It’s incredibly unfortunate that nurses feel they have to strike in order to protect their patients. On the cusp of a resurgence of COVID, it’s more important now than ever before that hospitals have safe minimum staffing levels in place so that patients can get the care they need at the bedside.”
The PASNAP union is unique in that it is not a national union, it is a local union formed by Pennsylvania nurses. That does not negate their strength in advocacy for their nurses however. In addition to the St Mary Medical strike, the Mercy Catholic Medical Center, and Mercy Fitzgerald Campus are also facing a nurse strike for similar concerns including staffing levels. The facilities are all owned by Trinity Health.
Nebraska Nursing Shortage
Hospitals across Nebraska are facing a hard truth about the number of available and willing nurses they have to work as the COVID 19 continues to spread at an alarming rate. On November 8, the state reported 1,574 new cases for the date, as opposed to on October 8, 663 new cases were reported.
Additionally, the nurses who are willing to work COVID 19 response are exhausted, and many have expressed an unwillingness. Mel McNea, the CEO of Great Plains Health, has stated they are exploring all avenues for recruitment that they can think of including asking retired nurses to be willing to work a day or two per week to help ease the burden. He reports that the number of physicians, or PPE and the bed capacity isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of available nursing staff.
Reportedly, in spite of the preference that in ICUs a nurse only have one or at most two patients, current numbers have nurses in ICUs providing care for three to four patients.
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England’s Critical Care Nurse to Patient Ratio Redefined-Again
It’s not just been hard on nurses here in the states, our fellow nurses in England are struggling as well. As COVID cases rise in Europe and England, English nursing shortages are causing some policy shifts, mainly regarding the allowed nurse to patient ratio. This isn’t the first time the ratio has changed, and it is unlikely to be the last.
NHS England has had a policy of one critical care nurse to one patient. However, when COVID first hit England and swept across the country, the numbers were simply overwhelming which prompted the NHS England in the spring to revise the accepted ratio to one nurse to as many as six COVID patients. That adjustment was only temporarily, and NHS switched the ratio rule to one nurse to one patient after the first peak. However, as the second wave crashes hard on England once more, the NHS has changed it again to one nurse to two critical care patients.
Justification for this change is unsurprisingly nursing shortages and overwhelmed staff. The dean of Faculty of Intensive Care, Dr. Alison Pittard stated:
” Covid has placed the NHS, and critical care in particular, in an unenviable position and we must admit everyone for whom the benefits of critical care outweigh the burdens. This means relaxing the normal staffing ratios to meet this demand in such a way that delivers safe care but also takes account of the impact this may have on staff health and well being. The 1:2 ratio is a maximum ratio, to be used only to support Covid activity, [and] not for planned care, and is not sustainable in the long term. This protects staff and patients.
“The [revised] guidance is needed because we do not have enough critical care staff to support the increase in beds required to care for all the patients with Covid and those with other conditions needing admission.
“There is [also ongoing Covid-related] sickness that makes the current situation worse, but the main issue is the longstanding failure to expand the workforce, and that is doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.”
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