May 1, 2020

Air quality and COVID-19 mortality rates

A recent Harvard study found that even a slight increase in fine pollutants in the air is associated with up to a 15% increase in COVID-19 death rates in a particular area. The state of California wants to replicate this study locally, but at an even more granular level (think: examining socio-economic geographical boundaries for varying effects of pollution on infection rates). The new study also plans to monitor a wider array of pollutants and include the number of hospitalizations as a variable to measure in addition to mortality rates alone. Short and sweet, national shelter-in-place protocols mean less traffic and thus less air pollution; now, it's time to better understand how pollution affects individuals' susceptibility to the virus. Read more

Healthcare's weakest link? —

Primary care. A strong base in primary care is hugely important for the overall effectiveness of the national health system, especially during pandemics like COVID-19. Primary care environments should be a natural match for triaging, testing, treating, and educating patients. However, COVID-19 has demonstrated that this is not the case in the US. The number of physician visits per capita as well as the number of avoidable deaths from chronic conditions are not where they should be. Moreover, primary care physicians are some of the lowest paid physicians in the US, and as a result, fewer practitioners choose this area, leading to a shortness in supply, which is only expected to worsen. That being said, there are paths we can take to better invest in this crucial part of the healthcare system — such as increasing the cost of primary care, allowing physicians to spend more quality time with patients, investing in more telehealth resources, and supporting practice autonomy for APRNs. Read more

The data about masks has been... unmasked —

We know that masks are critical to stopping the spread and do, in fact, work, but now we actually have data to back up what we thought to be true all along. Early data is concretely supporting the potential of a universal mask policy. "When we first began our universal masking policy, we had 12 to 14 new infections per day among our health care workers [...] And then after we instituted employee masking, that number dropped down to around eight," said Dr. Michael Klompas. While correlation is not causation (infections could be reduced for a variety of reasons), we now have more support for the quantitative effectiveness of wearing masks as both a visible and psychological barrier against the spread of COVID-19. Read more

Hospitals are getting their own grocery stores —

Providing PPE is expected. Providing safe and reliable access to food and household goods is a home run. One health system knows that one way to care for its frontline workers is by doing what it can to ensure their most basic needs are met. Health system CommonSpirit, which has hospitals and healthcare facilities across 21 states, opened its first hospital grocery store at the end of March. Deisell Martinez, PhD, MS, leader of nutrition services at CommonSpirit said, "They [healthcare workers] were so strained and a lot of them found it hard to go to a grocery store at night. A lot of times, when they got to a grocery store, many of the items were gone." CommonSpirit has since opened an additional two dozen hospital grocery stores, with another 22 expected to open by the end of the month. Read more

Who's proud to return to the bedside? —

Nurses who have changed careers or even retired are returning to the bedside to help support the need for more hands on deck. Stephanie Watkins, now known as the founder of popular design blog Casa Watkins Living, has spent her recent years focused on colorful interiors, DIY home projects, and bold, unconventional style. However, she's recently shifted her focus to return to the bedside in order to support frontline efforts against COVID-19. "I felt a calling or a need to kind of get back in and help my community [..] the need for nurses was at the top of my list," says Watkins. On the other hand, Laura Benson, RN, MS, APN, was retired when she signed up to volunteer for the State of New York: "My rationale was, if I could free up a currently practicing nurse to be at the bedside of a patient with COVID-19, then I would be a success." You know what they say... once a nurse, always a nurse. Read more

Emotional support for nurses on the frontlines of COVID-19 —

Trusted Health and The Ohio State University College of Nursing have just launched a new initiative focused on promoting the mental health and well-being of nurses on the frontlines of COVID-19. As we move into May, Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a great time to focus on the emotional and psychological -- not just the physical -- challenges of this pandemic. The goal is to provide nurses with mental health and wellness support through evidence-based strategies that are designed to help them cope with and adjust throughout and after the pandemic subsides. Read more

Clockin' Out ✌

"Since the world might be ending, I've got a confession: I've been listening to Nickelback."