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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 136-137

Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Nursing challenges faced

Professor and Nursing Superintendant, Tata Memorial Hospital, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission10-Apr-2020
Date of Decision10-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance11-Apr-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Swapna Joshi
Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/CRST.CRST_148_20

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How to cite this article:
Joshi S. Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Nursing challenges faced. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2020;3, Suppl S1:136-7

How to cite this URL:
Joshi S. Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Nursing challenges faced. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Oct 22];3, Suppl S1:136-7. Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2020/3/5/136/283311

We are in the clutches of a global disaster, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has posed a major challenge to the health-care systems across the world. We are at war with an invisible enemy that has endangered the health and life of people beyond imagination and has brought a lot of fear, stress, and uncertainty. These unforeseen circumstances have made us think, introspect, and make prompt decisions as health-care professionals. As nurses, we are committed to serve the society, and the biggest challenge we face today is to cure and care for the people affected with COVID-19.

In recognition of our contributions, the year 2020 was designated by the World Health Organization as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.” Nurses, being one of the strongest pillars of the health-care delivery system, are always ready to face challenges as frontline warriors. However, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, health-care delivery has been severely impacted. Some of the common problems faced by nurses across the country in the current situation are:

  • Shortage of experienced nurses in the hospitals and clinics
  • Shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) essential to prevent the spread of infection, such as masks. Some organizations have been providing substandard PPE
  • Unavailability of accommodation and transport facilities for the health-care workers
  • Inadequate quarantine facilities for the health-care workers
  • Physical exhaustion and mental stress because of working in an unpredictable situation
  • Lack of health insurance coverage
  • Concerns regarding personal safety and security at workplace and in the community as well as concerns regarding the safety of family members
  • Lack of counseling in distress
  • Communication gap between the hospital authorities and nursing leaders causing confusion and delay in decisions, thus resulting in frustration and mental exhaustion
  • Inadequate supportive services such as food and other facilities while on duty
  • Involvement of worker unions and politicians with selfish motives.

The list of our concerns is long, but we have attempted to address the above issues with the help of the management and experienced nursing professionals.

It is essential to empower nurses with the right education and skills in handling crisis so that they can confidently deal with challenges. Thanks to digitalization, we could impart and continuously reinforce the knowledge about COVID-19 care and prevention to nurses, both through direct training and webinars.

Communication with the management on a day-to-day basis was possible because of the COVID action group. Implementation of decisions with immediate effect was possible because of the smooth flow of orders through our group leaders. Standard operating procedures and infection control policies formulated by experts were made readily available to all nurses for reference, whenever required. Regular visits from the supervisors and daily monitoring of the clinical areas motivated the nursing staff to adhere to their duty schedules. Telephonic counseling was offered whenever required to help reduce feelings of guilt and to clear doubts.

The duty rota were designed in such a way that the nursing staff get sufficient time to rest at home. Special care was taken when assigning duties to the nurses working in the intensive care units, isolation wards, and fever outpatient departments, so as to reduce their exposure to suspected COVID-positive patients. We have deputed and trained a few nurses to attend to fever and suspected isolation patients and ensured that they are available in all shifts to deploy in case of absence of the designated staff. Hostel beds, food, and other facilities have been made available to nurses who stay far away and would like to work for 4 days at a stretch before they go home.

Arrangement of transport facilities to and from the hospital has ensured safe travel for the required number of nursing staff for continued care of the cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Hospital (Mumbai, India). Quarantine beds and facilities for personal hygiene have been assigned in designated areas for nurses who are suspected of having contracted the infection to rest in quarantine when awaiting the reports. An adequate number of PPEs has been made available in the required areas, their judicious use is ensured by personal communication as well as logbooks maintained in these areas; this also helps in restricting the visits of health-care personnel to isolated areas.

As leaders of the national nursing community, we have communicated our concerns to the health authorities of the state and central governments. We have been assured regarding the provision of health insurance to nurses and are currently working to ensure the supply of PPEs to the institutions in need. We are also in the process of starting a helpline for nurses and their families in collaboration with the disaster management team in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

The challenges are not over yet. Our battle with COVID-19 has presented us with learning opportunities. We are determined to win this war and make significant contributions to the health of the society that will be remembered forever.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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