Students, Retirees, and School Nurses Pitch In to Fight COVID-19

Students, Retirees, and School Nurses Pitch In to Fight COVID-19

Nursing students, nursing schools, school nurses grounded after school closures, and retired nurses are all joining the fight against the rising pandemic.

Here are just a few examples to be found across the United States:

Jackson, Mississippi

Seniors at Belhaven’s School of Nursing are performing community outreach and educating the public on how to protect themselves and others from the virus. Students are teaching infection-control techniques, discussed sanitation practices with the college’s operations team, and have posted instructions in campus dorms on maintaining safe hygiene. Senior Rebecca Rylander tells Jackson’s WJTV, “There is a desperate need for healthcare workers amidst this pandemic, and I want to help fill that need.”

Long Island, New York

At nursing and medical programs in Long Island, students barred from immediate contact with patients are playing an active role behind the scenes and on the front lines. While medical students at the Renaissance School of Medicine in Stonybrook are conducting online research and serving patients via telehealth sessions, the Barbara H. Hagan School of Nursing and Health Sciences tells Newsday that they have “alumni, graduate students and faculty working in emergency rooms and testing sites, and undergraduates are working or volunteering as nursing assistants.”

Darien, Connecticut

School nurses have volunteered at Darien High School’s COVID-19 testing station. Lisa Grant, a school district nurse at Hindley School, said “We had been asking our director what we can do to help so when Darien signed up for a site, we volunteered.” Yvonne Dempsey, of Ox Ridge School was also ready to help out. Dempsey told the Darien Times, “As nurses, we put ourselves out there any way we can. I figured that’s something I can do in my free time with the schools closed.” She adds, “Testing is the key — testing and isolation as much as possible is the only way to stop the spread.”

Framingham, Massachusetts, Caldwell, New Jersey, and elsewhere

In response to calls from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing faculty at colleges, universities, and community colleges are rushing to donate supplies of everything from masks to isolation gowns, to hand sanitizer. “This is a time when we all need to come together as a community and work cooperatively to fight this pandemic for the health and safety of everyone,” MassBay Community College President David Podell told the Framingham Source. Jennifer Rhodes, DNP, a faculty member at Caldwell University’s School of Nursing and Public Health, remarked, “As a former emergency room nurse, I cannot imagine what they are experiencing on the front lines right now.”

Chapman, Nebraska

Retired nurses are also answering individual states’ call for help. Nebraska TV spoke to 61-year-old Mary Steiner, a former emergency response nurse, has volunteered for the Central Nebraska Reserve Core. As she waits to put to use her training in natural disaster and emergency preparedness, Mary remarks, “If it’s something that becomes as serious as what’s going on in New York City right now… They’re wanting all hands on deck and so regardless of what my workplace setting has been in the past I know they’re going to be able to use me.”

Cuomo Loosens Reins on NPs, PAs, and More

Cuomo Loosens Reins on NPs, PAs, and More

As New York state climbs the steep face of its COVID-19 curve, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order vastly widening the scope of practice for some healthcare providers and absolving physicians of certain risks and responsibilities.

Among the order’s provisions:

  • Eliminating physician supervision of physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), certified registered nurse anesthetists, and others
  • Enabling foreign medical graduates with at least a year of graduate medical education to care for patients
  • Allowing emergency medical services personnel to operate under the orders of NPs, PAs, and paramedics
  • Allowing medical students to practice without a clinical affiliation agreement, and lifting 80-hour weekly work limits for residents
  • Granting providers immunity from civil liability for injury or death
  • Suspending usual record-keeping requirements
  • Allowing several types of healthcare professionals — including NPs, PAs, nurses, respiratory therapists, and radiology techs — with licenses in other states to practice in New York. However, physicians were not specifically included in the order, as the Department of Health and Human Services has not yet issued the necessary regulation
  • Suspending or revoking hospitals’ operating certificates if they don’t halt elective surgeries

The order, which remains in place through at least April 22, was met mostly with applause, though with some hesitation around work-hour limits.

C. Michael Gibson, MD, of Harvard, called it “stunning in both the breadth and depth of recommendations” on Twitter.

Shariq Shamim, MD, described it as a “great move,” with the exception that trainee work hour limits shouldn’t be scrapped: “They are already working equivalent to 2 [full-time employees] without Chinese-style PPE. More hours = more risk of exposure,” he tweeted.

Art Gianelli, president of Mount Sinai Morningside hospital in New York City, told MedPage Today that his team is “grateful to the governor for throwing the regulations out the window right now. He’s encouraging us and enabling us to do what we have to do to get through this. It’s the right thing to do.”

John Puskas, MD, chair of cardiovascular surgery at Mount Sinai Morningside, agreed that the steps are the right ones given that New York City “hasn’t flattened the curve adequately to avoid a big wave crashing. We’re really going to feel it in the next 2 or 3 weeks.”

“If simultaneously with that, we lost a meaningful number of healthcare providers to home quarantine, then we’d have a shortage not just of ventilators, but of people to run them and care for patients,” Puskas said.

by Kristina Fiore, Director of Enterprise & Investigative Reporting, MedPage Today

University at Buffalo School of Nursing Expands Clinical Sites to Better Serve Native American Communities

University at Buffalo School of Nursing Expands Clinical Sites to Better Serve Native American Communities

The University at Buffalo (UB) School of Nursing recently expanded its clinical sites for students, offering improved nursing services to local Native American communities and other underserved populations. UB Nursing was also able to enhance its curriculum thanks to $3.4 million in grant funding from the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The HRSA funding was provided in two grants—an Advanced Education Nursing grant, which ended in December, and an Advanced Nursing Education Workforce grant, which will continue through June. The two grants have led to significant improvements in addressing nursing shortages, both in outreach to underserved populations and by allowing the School of Nursing to educate more Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students.

Linda Paine Hughes, DNP, clinical assistant professor and program director for the two HRSA grants, tells buffalo.edu, “Because of the student’s clinical experiences and didactic education, our students have a better understanding of what they are going to face in practice within rural and underserved settings….Our goal is to provide personalized health care, which is culturally sensitive, safe and effective. As trusted team members, we will help improve access to health care for rural and underserved populations in Western New York and beyond.”

The HRSA grants have enabled the School of Nursing to expand its presence and establish new clinical sites. In the past four years, 36 students have completed their clinical rotations in rural underserved settings. The grants funded two, part-time psychiatric nurse practitioners and a cultural expert who served as liaison between the School of Nursing and the Tuscarora Nation Health Center, after the Tuscarora Nation leaders cited the need for traditional medicine services. The two nurse practitioners currently stationed at the Tuscarora Nation Health Center are graduates of UB’s nursing programs.

To learn more about how the University at Buffalo School of Nursing recently expanded its clinical sites for students, offering improved nursing services to local Native American communities and other underserved populations, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: US Marine Veteran Tori Levine Aims to Become Nurse Anesthetist for Doctors Without Borders

Nurse of the Week: US Marine Veteran Tori Levine Aims to Become Nurse Anesthetist for Doctors Without Borders

Our Nurse of the Week is Tori Levine, 22, a US Marine veteran and current nursing student at Stony Brook University who wants to become a nurse anesthetist for Doctors Without Borders.

Levine is from Dix Hills, NY, and says she knew she wanted to enlist in the military when she was nine years old. When her senior year in high school rolled around, Levine decided to defer college to enroll in the Marine Corps. She soon found herself serving as a collateral duty inspector for combat jets while deployed to the Middle East.

Levine tells news.stonybrook.edu, “I had trouble sleeping thinking about the maintenance I oversaw and imagining the worst possible cases: ‘What if something wasn’t connected right? What if the wire we repaired doesn’t hold? What if someone gets hurt? Did I make sure all of the tools were accounted for?’ With time I was able to gain confidence in myself and quit second-guessing when I know I had triple-checked it multiple times.”

Her military training eventually taught her discipline and provided her with mental jet fuel: “Being a nurse also appealed to me but I never thought I could do that because I struggled in the sciences. The military made me realize that what they say about mind over matter is true. I know now I can do it.”

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Levine eventually wants to become a nurse anesthetist and work for Doctors Without Borders. She feels she is aptly equipped to provide care and training to victims of war in the Middle East once she’s received the proper nursing training. She’s also trying to learn Russian and French, the two languages required to be accepted into Doctors Without Borders.

To learn more about Tori Levine, a US Marine veteran and current nursing student at Stony Brook University who wants to become a nurse anesthetist for Doctors Without Borders, visit here.

NYU Nursing Professor Jacquelyn Taylor Appointed to National Academy of Medicine for Work in Health Disparities

NYU Nursing Professor Jacquelyn Taylor Appointed to National Academy of Medicine for Work in Health Disparities

The National Academy of Medicine has appointed Dr. Jacquelyn Taylor, FAAN, FAHA, PhD, PNP-BC, RN, a professor of Health Equity at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, to the National Academy of Medicine for her work in health disparities research among minority populations.

Taylor is one of 100 new members of the National Academy of Medicine, one of the most respected achievements in the health field. Recipients will be employed or funded by a department or agency in hopes of making discoveries that will advance US society.

Taylor’s research is focused on how social factors contribute to health disparities among minorities. Her research on how environmental factors can affect blood pressure among black people has been especially noted.

Taylor tells nyunews.com, “It is a great honor being the only faculty member in the College of Nursing to receive this. The National Academy of Medicine is known for their body of brilliant experts in the field.”

This is not Taylor’s first major achievement. She was also awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by Barack Obama in 2017.

To learn more about NYU Nursing professor Jacquelyn Taylor’s appointment to the National Academy of Medicine for her work in health disparities research, visit here.

“It’s a beautiful thing to witness…” A Talk with the Director of the VNSNY Gender Affirmation Program

“It’s a beautiful thing to witness…” A Talk with the Director of the VNSNY Gender Affirmation Program

In early 2016, Mt. Sinai Hospital* approached the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) to propose that VNSNY offer home care services to post-operative transgender patients. This was the genesis of VNSNY’s Gender Affirmation Program (known as GAP), which to date has provided home care to over 400 transgender patients.
*a strategic partner of VNSNY

DailyNurse recently interviewed Shannon Whittington, RN MSN PCC C-LGBT Health, the Clinical Director of GAP at VNSNY. We asked her about the nature of gender affirmation treatment, the home nursing care that VNSNY provides, and the outstanding LGBT-friendly services that VNSNY offers to patients across the Tri-State New York area.

 Shannon Whittington, the Clinical Director of the Gender Affirmation Program at VNSNY
Shannon Whittington, the Clinical Director of the Gender Affirmation Program at VNSNY

DailyNurse: What is gender affirmation surgery (GAS)?

SW: A surgical procedure that creates or removes body parts that align with the patients’ gender expression. E.g. vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, metoidioplasty, facial feminization, breast augmentation/masculinization.

DN: Is this the same thing as “sex-change surgery?”

SW: It is the same thing but we don’t use the terms “sex-change surgery” anymore.

Gender Affirmation or Gender Confirming surgeries are the correct terms now.  Understanding that this is a linguistically fluid language, words and meanings are always changing and we need to be mindful of correct terminology.

DN: What are the components of the VNSNY Gender Affirmation Program?

SW: The program emphasizes home care following surgery from other providers. I train clinicians (nurses, social workers, physical therapists, home health aides, speech and occupational therapists) in cultural sensitivity as it particularly relates to transgender patients.  The training is extensive and they are also educated in how to teach the patients to care for their new or altered body parts (i.e. penis, vagina, breast, face)

DN: How did you come to specialize in the treatment of Gender Affirmation surgery patients?

SW: Fortunately, I was chosen for this project by my manager.  I had no idea what I was saying yes to but this has literally changed the trajectory of my career path.  I discovered a passion that I did not know I had!

DN: What sorts of clinical training do nurses in the program need to take care of GAS post-surgery patients? 

SW: They need to know what to assess for and what is normal and what is not.  They learn about vaginal dilation because the patients who undergo vaginoplasty must do this on a regular basis. Patients come home with VACs, JP drains, foleys and supra pubic catheters. Although the nurses are already familiar with these devices, they need to teach the patients how to manage them. The clinicians are also trained in social determinants of health for this cohort.

DN: What sorts of cultural issues do nurses need to learn about before tending to a GAS patient?

SW: We really need to understand that these patients, like all of our patients, are patients first who happen to be transgender. We must respect their chosen names, their pronouns and their gender expression. We focus on getting them better and integrated back into society. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and an honor to be associated in such a transitional journey.

DN: How does the Gender Affirmation Program reflect the larger VNSNY commitment to LGBT patients?

SW: It reflects our commitment to this population on an agency wide basis.  What is great is that we are now getting non-operative transgender patients who are seeking home care services for reasons other than gender affirming surgeries.  They feel safe here and seek care outside of gender affirming surgeries. 

We are initiating various ways to continue to be inclusive along the binary spectrum by hiring gender non-confirming and non-binary individuals. These individuals have a lot to offer and need to be the best expressions of themselves in their work environment just like the heteronormative society we all live in.

DN: And can you tell us something about the SAGE training in your organization?

SW: All divisions of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York have been awarded Platinum certification (the highest level possible) from SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people.

More than 80 percent or more of VNSNY’s clinical and other staff have received SAGE Care LGBT cultural competency training, further establishing VNSNY as a preferred health care provider for New York City’s LGBT residents.

The SAGE training is designed to increase awareness among VNSNY clinical and administrative staff of cultural issues and sensitivities around sexual orientation and gender identification, so as to ensure a welcoming and respectful health care environment for all individuals within the LGBTQ community.

Among other things, the training stresses the importance of approaching each patient in a non-judgmental fashion and never making assumptions about anyone’s sexual orientation or family structure. We want every patient to feel they can be totally open about who they are with every member of our GAP team who walks through their door.

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