Although we are finding out more information about COVID-19, more questions are being generated every day on how to best contain and manage the effects of the virus.
The exponential rise in the number of patients with COVID-19 continues to pressure capacity in hospitals across the world, particularly in intensive care. Nurses and members of the healthcare team must have access to personal protective equipment to allow them to safely and effectively provide care for the individuals and communities they serve. This has increased the importance of preparedness plans that provide infection control procedures and protocols used within the healthcare facility for the early identification, containment, and care of patients with symptoms associated with COVID-19.
It would not be wrong to say that in many parts of the world, we have been caught off guard. Few people considered that the pandemic would spread so quickly or that the impact on high income countries such as Italy, United States and the United Kingdom would be so drastic. Nationalism, populism and the highly politicised global health environment has not enabled global collaboration and integrated responses. Just as Florence Nightingale faced challenges in advancing nursing through the Crimean War, many of us feel we are facing a war. We see this in the language and metaphors featured regularly in the media, and in this course, describing nurses and other health workers working at the frontlines.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that we are inextricably linked. We need to intensify our commitment to integrated and coordinated healthcare systems with embedded global public health preparedness. Ensuring nurses are confident, competent and credentialled, and supported by resilient health systems, should be a critical focus for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and what lies ahead. This will require us to critically reflect on our practice, evaluate the evidence, challenge stereotypes, and ensure that nurses demonstrate leadership in disaster preparedness and mitigation.
In this first week we have emphasized the importance of data. You will see from the Johns Hopkins map that there is power in the presentation of data and following the data is critical in managing a pandemic. Nurses comprise the largest component of the hospital labour force, and data suggests that more educated nurses lead to better performance. For example, there are strong associations between higher baccalaureate-trained nursing rates and reduced mortality, as well as other indicators of hospital performance.
An important strategy for building capacity is ensuring that nurses are educated and supported. To this end, we’ve pulled together an additional bank of resources to help you to plan and make strategic decisions in your local context, and to improve your capacity to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges that lie ahead.