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March 20, 2020

Can you practice anywhere during a public health emergency?

It's still up to the states. On Wednesday morning, Vice President Mike Pence announced that Health and Human Services (HHS) are preparing to suspend federal regulations that prevent medical professionals (nurses and doctors alike) from practicing across state lines given the current pandemic (i.e. removing the need to have state-specific or compact state licensure). While some had been celebrating the easing of nationwide restrictions on state licensure, their celebrations may have been a little premature. As announced last Friday, states will still need to apply directly with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a licensure waiver; state governors are be able to sign an 1135 waiver that will allow their state to accept medical practitioners with licenses from other states, and there will remain processes in place within each state to ensure proper licensure and the safety of the public. While not a total remedy for staffing shortages, it's a good start for additional support.

Additionally, President Trump enacted the wartime Defense Production Act to expand the production of medical equipment, including N95 facemasks and hand sanitizer; and, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is asking nurses to submit a letter to their representatives for increased availability of PPE equipment.

What are the psychological impacts of quarantine? —

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, a recent review of studies was published that goes into the psychological impacts of social distancing and isolation. Most studies focused on the negative impacts, such as PTSD, confusion, and anger. Some of the variables cited included duration of isolation, fear of infection, frustration, boredom, lack of necessary supplies and information, financial stress, and stigmatization. The takeaway? When quarantine is necessary, governing bodies should limit the duration to only that which is necessary, provide clear explanation for quarantine, and do their best to provide adequate supplies needed to sustain quarantine.

How to avoid panic and limit anxiety, especially with OCD —

COVID-19 is proving a challenge for everyone, especially those with heightened susceptibility to anxiety and pre-existing mental health conditions. If you or someone you know is having a particularly difficult time coping with changing healthy and safety guidelines and recommendations, whether they be from your local government or the WHO, here's what you can do to prevent fears and anxiety from taking over. For starters, only follow one verified and trusted news outlet, allow yourself to set a basic safety plan based on the recommendations of this organization (and do not add to it), and continue healthy habits — exercise, good nutrition, and quality sleep.

Can hospitals keep up? —

A newly developed model called Hospital Referral Regions (HRR) attempts to estimate the necessary available beds, as well as the total number of beds needed to accommodate future COVID-19 patients, currently in existence in each of the 306 U.S. hospital markets. Created by researchers at Harvard, the model also seeks to shed light on ways in which hospitals might be able to find additional beds and ICU capacity. “Pandemics are a time when we need to share information fast, but we also need to be accurate and explain what our estimates mean, especially when they are scary estimates,” says Stefanie Friedhoff of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Global pandemics and misinformation, like butter on toast—

During a pandemic, you're not only fighting a virus, you're also fighting the misinformation surrounding it. Luckily, us nurses are often in a good spot to hear the real deal as it's happening, but this isn't the case for most other folks. In response, RB -- producers of Lysol brand cleaning products -- has launched a new public health campaign to combat misinformation by evaluating claims made by third parties around the topic of COVID-19. Focuses include: the transmission of the virus, misinformation around potential cures, and proper methods to avoid and protect.

Innovation at play: 3D-printed respirator valves —

When a hospital in Brescia, Italy was running low on ventilator valves, a local business showed up with a 3D printer, and in a few hours had produced a handful of newly designed valves. Only a couple days later and more than 10 patients in the hospital were breathing successfully on machines using these 3D-printed valves. There's always a way to step up, and it's times like these where challenges lead to innovation.

If you're a nurse and you haven't tried camping, you should —

Aside from the fact that being alone in the great outdoors is an excellent way to satisfy the need for social distancing right now, there are a few reasons why nurses in particular can benefit from camping. First, it's a way to get away from it all- work, commuting, and your loud neighbors. Second, it can provide a palpable sense of calm that is increasingly rare to come across. Third, whether you're working toward your LPN, MSN, or DNP, it's a great time to study or reflect on what you've learned. And finally, given your training and experience, you should feel extra safe and especially ready for any surprises you might face while on the ol' trail.

Looking for more COVID-19 nursing resources? —

You can find more specifics, from licensure updates to high-demand COVID-19 jobs here.

Clockin' Out ✌

“I used to sneeze to cover my fart, now I fart to cover my sneeze."