The Year of the Nurse – how did it really turn out?
by Sofia Eidman
At the beginning of last year, we noted that 2020 has been appointed as the Year of the Nurse by the WHO. Their hard work would be notices and appreciated. Then came covid-19 and took over the focus all over the world. How did the year become for the nurses? We will take a closer look at this in today’s blog post.
In a Novus survey conducted during spring 2020, in the middle of the pandemic’s first wave, almost 1 000 nurses was asked. The survey showed that the occupational group worked under severe pressure in the ongoing crisis. Only four out of ten felt that they had access to the protective equipment needed. One out of three felt great anxiety about becoming infected themselves. Just over four out of ten were worried about infecting others. 63 percent of the those patients that were treated for covid-19 felt that the patient safety had deteriorated. One in four had experienced situations of ethical stress over priorities between patients.
We know that the healthcare wasn’t prepared in the spring and that the change took place quickly. The nurses could with their competence and creativity solve situations that seemed hopeless. In the beginning there wasn’t enough protective equipment or things that are obvious today, such as hand sanitizer. You also had to adjust. Not just by moving staff to IVA or learning to cope with covid care in the other departments of the hospitals. But you also had to switch to first-line healthcare. Healthcare centers provided special entrances for patients with covid symptoms. Drop-in clinics were closed and many of the first care contacts were moved from physical visits to digital contacts.
In November, an analysis was presented by the international nursing organisation ICN. The analysis showed that at least 1 500 nurses in 44 countries have died as a result of covid-19. If all countries in the world were included, ICN believes that more than 20 000 healthcare workers may have died.
According to ICN analysis, as much as 10 percent of all the infected in the world may be healthcare professionals. If the expected mortality is set to a low figure, 0,5 percent, it is estimated that between 20 000 and 30 000 healthcare employees have died so far during the pandemic.
“The fact that as many nurses have died during this pandemic as during World War I is outrageous”, said Howard Catton, head of ICN, during a press release. “This is an important lesson for the future. When the pandemic is over we can never take the healthcare for granted again, we have to invest much more in it and in the staff”.
Looking at Sweden, it was found in October that more than 1 800 nurses had now reported being infected with covid-19 at work. In addition to the risk of becoming infected, many nurses have suffered from both fatigue and PTSD. Depression and difficulty sleeping are other consequences that have affected those who have struggled to keep the healthcare running during the past year.
At the end of 2020, a change for the better could finally be sensed at the end of the tunnel when the first vaccines were approved and the vaccination of the most vulnerable in society could begin. But for the nurses, the crisis is far from over. The number of patients is still high and the protection from the vaccine will not be visible at healthcare centers and hospitals for a long time. They themselves have to wait for their turn in the vaccination queue. Even though staff who today work closest to the most vulnerable have begun to receive their vaccination doses.
Mass vaccination also means an increased pressure on the first-line care, which will largely be responsible for all vaccination when the population begins to be vaccinated. This is already noticeable in the regions where the order of priority has begun to shift from the homes of the elderly. The number of telephone calls to the healthcare centers is increasing and the citizens wants to book vaccination appointments for their relatives or for themselves.
At Aurora Innovation, we have long helped the healthcare system to streamline its contacts with patients and we are helpful this time as well. There are great opportunities in Aurora teleQ for easy call handling, chatt and video.
We are here if you need support on how to book vaccinations and the opportunity to be available for questions from patients. Without completely destroying the working environment for the already worn care staff.