December 18, 2020

4 things ICU nurses have learned from COVID-19

The pandemic has pit us all against one of our toughest battles yet, and many bedside nurses have begun sharing their learnings. Here are four things that ICU nurses, in particular, have learned during these last few months:

(1) Life outside of the hospital can be difficult and isn't much easier—while hospitals are rigid and observing in their safety measures, it can be difficult to trust that the general public is also following these precautions.
(2) Expect every day to be an emotional rollercoaster—it used to be easier to separate work and life, but now the two are completely intertwined, as are the fears and anxieties that each day brings.
(3) There is no easy way to comfort tired, lonely, and sick patients—between the chaotic environment and physical barriers created by PPE, it's difficult to truly feel present with patients in their times of greatest need.
(4) New grad nurses have truly gotten their feet wet in the midst of a storm—many new grads expected to begin their careers around fewer critical patients, but for many, those are the only types of patients they now see.

Unfortunately, these insights aren't particularly positive, but they're the truth and should be talked about and, in many cases, addressed. Read more

We're not experiencing a shortage of healthcare staff, we're running out —

Across the United States, hospitals and facilities are—and have been—running out of doctors and nurses. Nearly half of all US states are dealing with increasing staff shortages, while many states, such as Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, are actually "running out" of care staff. An ICU nurse typically cares for maybe two critically ill patients, but COVID-19 needs have pushed this count to upwards of eight patients at a time. North Dakota has even begun allowing asymptomatic, but COVID-19 positive, nurses to continue seeing patients due to a lack of staff. And in California, ICU capacity is nearly 90%. While more protocols in hospitals throughout the country have been adopted, and new ventilators and PPE have in some cases been provided, the shortage of healthcare staff has become an "insurmountable barrier" in the battle against COVID-19. Read more

Clearer skin? Get your hydration on —

As we all know, many of us don’t drink enough water. A recent study found that 75% of Americans are “chronically dehydrated.” By drinking more water each day, you can achieve incredible short and long-term health benefits. Short-term benefits can be felt within the first 10 minutes of consumption, including decreased brain fog, energy boosts, and headache relief. After a week of proper consumption, you may see clearer skin, more regular bowel movements, and less muscle pain. If you continue to properly hydrate, you can attain full-body, long-term effects and decreased risk of disease and disorders “like urinary tract infections, hypertension, coronary heart disease, glaucoma, and gallstone disease.” So drink up! Read more

A new and improved Mediterranean Diet? —

You've heard of the Mediterranean Diet, but what's the "green" Mediterranean Diet? It follows the same principles as the original Mediterranean Diet—low in red meat, high in vegetables, full of complex carbohydrates, and emphasizes good fats—but includes even less red meat and more green, plant-based staples. Six months of research provided noticeable results, with increased improvements from the standard Mediterranean Diet in the following categories: total weight lost increased by 14%, slimming of waist circumference increased by 23%, and LDL cholesterol was lowered by an additional 3%. The researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that additional restriction of meat intake with a parallel increase in plant-based, protein-rich foods, may further benefit the cardiometabolic state and reduce cardiovascular risk, beyond the known beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean Diet.” Less meat, more greens; add that to your New Year's resolutions! Read more

Coronavirus Updates

FDA formally approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine —

Last Friday, the FDA authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID 19 vaccine, marking a critical milestone in the pandemic. Federal health officials hope to vaccinate 20 million people before the end of the 2020, with healthcare workers and long-term care residents being among the first to receive the vaccine. While this achievement is monumental, it does not mean an immediate return to normalcy. Distributing the vaccine will remain challenging, and experts predict low-risk adults will need to wait until mid 2021 to receive it. Moreover, it's estimated that 80% of adults will need to be vaccinated before we can achieve “herd immunity.” Slow and steady wins the race... Read more

NYC nurse one of the first to receive COVID-19 vaccine —

On Monday, Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse in NYC was one of the first frontline workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. She's been working on the frontlines for almost a year now, putting herself at risk to support the fight against COVID-19. Lindsay states that she hopes her early reception of the vaccine will encourage others to be open to it when their time comes. She called it a "lifesaving treatment," and one that should not be ignored amidst the air of distrust and doubt among some Americans. Everyone must play their own role in mitigating, and eventually halting, the effects of this virus and disease, and for many, that means being acceptive of an effective vaccine. Read more

The COVID-19 vaccine and its appeal to the Black community —

Many Americans have reported vaccine hesitancy for a variety of reasons, but Black communities, in particular, have expressed strong skepticism. A recent study found that “just 14 percent of Black people trust that a vaccine will be safe, and only 18 percent believed it would effectively protect them from COVID-19.” Dr. Anthony Fauci urges people to trust scientists by highlighting Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American immunologist, who had a significant role in the development of the Moderna vaccine. The efficacy of the vaccine is determined by the amount of people in the communities that receive it, therefore it’s vital that people trust the institutions that provide it. Black communities have been hit hard by the virus and are especially vulnerable due to reasons that are "largely systemic.” As ICU nurse Sarah Lindsay, one of the first nurses to receive the vaccine and a Black woman, said above, it's a "lifesaving treatment" that should not be ignored. Read more

FDA approves at-home COVID-19 test kit —

On Tuesday, the FDA approved the United States' first COVID-19 test that can be completed 100% at home (including results). The test, developed by Australian company Ellume, has been approved for anyone aged two and up, and its entire testing process takes only 20 minutes. It's also authorized for people both with and without visible symptoms. While it's slightly less accurate than the gold-standard tests in most labs, a clinical study shows that it can detect up to 95% of COVID-19 infections found by PCR. At least 20 million kits are expected to ship throughout the United States within the first half of 2021, with each kit costing around $30. As the US begins vaccination distribution over the holiday season, tools like this testing kit may help us to finally rein in the pandemic come mid-late 2021. Read more

Upcoming Events

(Recording) Instagram Live session on the state of nursing and mental health —

Last Sunday, Trusted Community Ambassador Lauren Rodriguez, a CVICU nurse, spoke with therapist Meghan Watson about the physical and emotional toll that nursing can take. They discussed the current mental health crisis affecting nurses and other healthcare workers, concrete strategies to combat stress in the moment, and how you can get professional help if needed. You can watch the full recording here! ❤️

Clockin' Out ☕️

"You drink coffee to feel energized, I drink coffee to poop. We are not the same." - @shesinscrubs

The Handoff is taking a mental health break until January 8, 2021; we hope you can, too! Happy holidays! 👋