According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of late May, over 62,000 health care professionals nationwide had contracted COVID-19 and 291 had died from it. ANA tracked reports of 156 nurses who died due to COVID-19. The stress of inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and caring for patients, family, and self with COVID-19 has created an mental health burden on these providers which will likely take months, if not years, to heal.
Attached you will find an update on some modifications of practices that continue. Attached is a survey by the American Nurses Association at the national level, yet I was also able to select the portion from Vermont alone as well. I provide information on both national and local data.
The response rate in Vermont was relatively small, but reflects national data of over 14,000 responses. On this issue, we are similar. For example, for the question: are you required to re-use single use items such as N-95 respirators? Nationally 62% of nurses responded that reuse was required by their facility policy (13,711 responses). In Vermont the response was 61% that were required to reuse N-95 respirators per their facility policy.
- Approximately half of respondents have experienced shortages of PPE.
- Nationally, 21% experienced WIDESPREAD shortages of PPE (Vermont 13%)
- Nationally 24% experienced INTERMITTENT shortages of PPE (Vermont 29%)
- Shortages varied greatly based on type of PPE
- Nationally 42% were out or short of N95 masks (VT 48%)
- Nationally 33% were out or short of HEPA Filters, PAPRs, & Hoods (VT 34%)
- Nationally 28% were out or short of Goggles (VT 41%)
- Nationally 27% were out or short of Face Shields (VT 31%)
- Nationally 27% were out or short of Gowns (VT 41%)
- Nationally 25% were out or short of surgical masks (VT 31%)
- The majority of nurses who said their facility was decontaminating N95 masks felt unsafe.
- Nationally 53% feel very unsafe or feel somewhat unsafe (VT 45%)
The majority of nurses are required or encouraged to reuse single-use PPE, and 59% said this made them feel unsafe. Concerning findings indicate persistent gaps in the supply of PPE and the financial state of facilities able to provide PPE. Nurses are still using decontamination methods as a standard practice rather than a crisis strategy. We have not reached a point in this pandemic where nurses can return to a single use of PPE, a basic standard to prevent disease transmission. How disappointing. Relief packages help, and we urge leaders to ensure that funds are distributed to health facilities in a timely and equitable manner. We must return to the best practices as soon as possible.