Week 57 Newsletter
A new JAMA study investigates asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 infection among vaccinated and unvaccinated hospital workers who are screened routinely for COVID-19.
Many rural hospitals across the US are experiencing substantial lags in employee vaccination, with 30% reporting more than half of their employees remain unvaccinated.
(05/06/21) Asymptomatic and Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infections After BNT162b2 Vaccination in a Routinely Screened Workforce
A new study published on the JAMA Network found that hospital workers that received the COVID-19 vaccination were significantly less likely to test positive for COVID-19. The study was conducted by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee and analyzed data for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers at the hospital between Dec. 17, 2020, and March 20, 2021. Of the 5,217 workers that met vaccination criteria, 58.5% received at least one dose of Pfizer-BioNTech, 53.2% received two doses, and 41.5% remained unvaccinated. The study found that 51 vaccinated workers and 185 unvaccinated workers contracted COVID-19 during the study period.
(05/04/21) Why Lagging COVID-19 Vaccine Rate At Rural Hospitals ‘Needs To Be Fixed Now’
Rural hospitals are concerned with the COVID-19 vaccination rates among their health care employees. According to a survey conducted by the National Rural Health Association and Chartis Center for Rural Health, 30% of 160 rural hospital executives reported that less than half of their employees were vaccinated. The Biden administration has since announced that it would focus on prioritizing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccination doses to providers that practice in high needs areas, including rural communities.
A new survey is being released to gain insight on COVID-19 impacts to the nursing workforce in Massachusetts.
The increase in demand for mental health services has led to decreased access for patients, with insufficient supply of providers.
Surge Capacity Issues
(05/04/21) MNA Nurses and Healthcare Professionals to Unveil Results of ‘State of Nursing in Massachusetts’
The Massachusetts Nurses Association will hold a press conference on May 6th, marking the beginning of National Nurses Week. The conference will focus on the results of a randomized survey of more than 500 Registered Nurses in Massachusetts that practice various health care settings. The survey entitled “The State of Nursing in Massachusetts,” was conducted March 25 – March 30 by Boston-based Beacon Research and has revealed the concerning impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Registered Nurses and the health care system in Massachusetts.
(04/30/21) Access to Mental Health Services Dwindled As Pandemic Need Strained Providers: GAO Report
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the access to mental health care services has been severely impacted as the COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for services. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 27% more people reported symptoms of anxiety and depression between April 2020 and February 2021, compared to 2019. Additionally, emergency room departments have seen a significant increase in visits for overdoses and suicide attempts. The National Council for Behavioral Health has found that approximately two-thirds of their member organizations reported a need to cancel, reschedule, or turn patients away due to an insufficient supply of providers as the demand for services surge.
A new report outlines trends in the physician assistant workforce throughout the first 9 months of the pandemic, including information on furloughs and the use of telehealth.
Changes to Organizational Policies and Guidelines
(04/26/21) New Report Highlights Certified PA Practice Patterns During COVID-19 Pandemic
A new report from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants has outlined trends in the physician assistant (PA) workforce during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key findings include more than 60% of PAs having used telehealth during the pandemic, 96% of PAs surveyed being employed in a clinical position nine months into the pandemic, and just 12% experiencing a furlough during the pandemic.
Health system CEOs are forming a coalition to create new safety standards for US health care workers.
Health care workers continue to be at risk for long-term issues relating to working through the pandemic, including insomnia, mental health issues, and extended COVID-19 symptoms. A new study has found workers experiencing poor mental and physical health have more medical errors than healthier workers.
Health Workforce Safety
(05/04/21) Health System CEOs Form Coalition to Set New Safety Standards for US Health Care Workers
The CEO Coalition has been created in an effort to set new safety standards for the nation’s health care workers. The formation of this group comes as the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the need to address systemic challenges faced by health care workers. The participants of the CEO Coalition include Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health and CEO of UCLA Hospital System, and nine other U.S. health system leaders. The CEO Coalition has since released a Declaration of Principles that innovatively redefined health workforce safety standards and included additional factors such as emotional and psychological well-being, health justice, and physical safety.
(05/04/21) Workforce Management Key to Nurse Mental Health, Patient Safety
A new study published in the American Journal of Critical Care has found that critical care nurses in poor physical and mental health have significantly more medical errors compared to healthier nurses. While this study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the strain of the pandemic has led to concerns over medical errors throughout the pandemic from these critical care nurses and other health care providers.
(05/04/21) Health Care Workers Experience Increased Insomnia During the Pandemic
This article from Pharmacy Times discusses a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which found significant increases in insomnia disorder among health care workers following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(05/04/21) Doctors With Long COVID-19 Share Their Struggles to Heal
This article from the Association of American Medical Colleges offers some examples of the impact of COVID-19 in the long-term on some health care providers. Long lasting COVID-19 symptoms on those who have otherwise recovered continue to be a concern for front-line health care workers.
With executive orders enabling out-of-state licenses to practice within a state, some states are considering joining the Nurse Licensure Compact to improve the ability for health care workers to practice across state lines.
(05/04/21) State Lawmakers Mull Out-of-state Nurse Licenses After Pandemic Rollbacks
As COVID-19 cases surged, several states temporarily waived state licensure requirements and allowed out-of-state providers to practice in other states without obtaining licensure in the new state. This action contributed to increasing the supply of Registered Nurses as traveling nurses began to practice in other state COVID-19 hotspots. However, several of the executive orders that allowed regulatory flexibility are set to expire. State lawmakers are exploring strategies to avoid future nursing shortages which include adding states to the Nursing Licensure Compact agreement.