As Coronavirus cases are ramping up in nearly every state in America, it’s becoming a bit more complicated to be a travel nurse. But if you’re planning to hop on a plane in the next few weeks to your next work destination, this guide has you covered. Here’s everything you should know about how travel is changing right now, and the best tips to staying safe, whether you’re commuting in a plane, train, bus or car.
Top Tips for Traveling Safe
Start planning your “Corona Travel Kit” weeks before you leave
Hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and other sanitary necessities are becoming hot commodities again. If you know you’re traveling, make sure you’re stocked up well ahead of time. And think hard about what you’ll need in various travel situations.
For instance, if you’re flying, you can only carry on a bottle of hand sanitizer that contains 12 ounces or less. So stock up on mini-bottles. And also consider alcohol and Clorox wipes (get both) as a better option for flying. After all, wipes can also sanitize where you’re sitting and putting your hands on. And you can use them to wipe down your phone and wallet. Disposable gloves can be useful too, but make sure not to touch your face with your gloves on.
If you’re driving, there are a couple of other items to consider bringing with you. Keep a package of trash bags handy as your Clorox wipes and disposable gloves begin to pile up. You could also consider buying an air purifier for your car if you’re driving with others.
Avoid shopping while traveling
Whether you’re flying or driving, the most likely way you’d come into contact with strangers is through shopping. Whether it’s buying a snack at a gas station, or a water bottle at the Starbucks near your terminal, this is putting you at extra-risk of interacting with strangers and touching items that others have likely also put their hands on. Just plan ahead and avoid this altogether if you can. Bring more snacks than you think you need, and plan for a packed lunch and possibly dinner, even if you’re flying. Bring an emptied reusable water bottle if you’re flying. And if you’re driving, bring multiple water bottles (though don’t drink so much that you have to stop to pee all the time).
Speaking of peeing, do it at your house before you go!
Cover that face!
It’s human nature to want to touch your face, and it’s a habit that is incredibly difficult to crack. So the easiest way to stop yourself from doing it in a high-risk situation like traveling is to cover as much of your face as possible. Wearing a mask is a given, but also wear your reading glasses or even your sunglasses if you can. It might not take the temptation away, but if you have to take the extra step of taking your glasses off before rubbing your eyes, you’ll have time to realize what you’re doing and quickly put some hand sanitizer on.
Check in to your flight online/ use a carry-on suitcase
Another way to avoid as much human contact as possible while flying is to check in ahead of time online, and try and limit yourself to a carry-on suitcase. That way you can head straight to security and skip a step of standing in line and talking to TSA.
Take a window seat
When you travel by air, you’re actually at quite a limited risk of contracting disease from inhaling particles because of the HEPA air filters found on most planes. But still, it’s hard to abide by the 6-feet-apart social distancing guidelines when you’re crammed in a plane. While you might usually prefer the aisle seat, consider taking the window seat instead. The aisle will put you in close contact with flight attendants and any passenger getting up to use the restroom.
Also, wear a mask for the duration of your flight. We know it sucks. But it will ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
When driving, prepare for the worst
Limiting how many times you stop during a road trip also means prepping as much as you can to avoid emergency stops. AAA isn’t always going to save you, and it will put you in contact with strangers. Also, because of COVID-19, a lot of local repair shops have limited hours. Try and be as self sufficient as you can. Make sure you have a spare tire and jack, and practice changing a tire before you go. Get new wipers, your oil changed and your fluids topped off before you leave. Maybe even have someone who knows cars pretty well take a look at your engine.
As a last resort, look up all the auto-repair shops along your root and jot down their hours and numbers.
Change your mindset
If you’ve been in one place for several months, you might start getting lax about sanitizing your hands, not touching your face, or keeping 6 feet away from others. Even if you’ve been going into a hospital every day, it’s easy to be lulled into a sense of normalcy around this virus as we’re now into month four of the pandemic. So hours before you board a plane or get into a car to travel cross-state, put yourself into a little bit of a panic mode. You don’t want to have so much anxiety about traveling that you freak out and don’t think properly, but a little bit of fear can be powerful. Read a couple articles about the dangers of COVID-19 before you leave the house, to refamiliarize yourself with the risk you’re facing.
Make a checklist
And then once you’re sufficiently scared of this possibly-deadly virus, immediately make a checklist for everything you need to be mindful of before you get into an airport or a car.
- Am I touching my face?
- Am I applying hand sanitizer every 15 minutes or so, or before I touch my face? (You could even make a timer on your phone)
- Has my phone or wallet come in contact with any surface?
- When I’m taking my mask off for any reason, are my hands clean?
- What are the conditions in which it’s okay to take my mask off?
- How can I avoid contact with strangers as much as possible?
- If I’m driving, how many times should I expect to stop?
- Have I wiped down the gas pump before using it?
Plan for after you arrive
If you’re flying into your new destination, make sure you’re thinking about how you’ll get to where you’re staying once you get off the plane. Public transportation has been shut down in many states, and shuttles can be too-close-for-comfort. If you’re going to take an Uber, make sure to keep your mask on and the window down. Also look up where the pick-up location for ride-shares and taxis is before you land.
Also, if you’re staying in an AirBnb or some other temporary lodging, go to the state website and see if they’ve placed any kind of guidelines or restrictions on lodging. Some places like Maine, require you to present a negative COVID-19 test to the owners of your AirBnB or hotel.
The best way to limit your travel and stress levels? Get tested for COVID-19 before you head out, and after you arrive. Make sure you get your test in time to have the results back before you leave, and try to quarantine as best you can while waiting for results.
Some states or workplaces ask that you get a test within 24 hours of arriving in your city. But if this isn’t your situation, try and wait four or five days after traveling to get tested. It’s more likely your test will be accurate if you wait a few days beyond when you think you might have been exposed. If you’re forced to take a test right when you get into the city, maybe take another one a week later, just to be safe.
Navigating travel restrictions
As states like Texas and Florida have begun seeing more cases than ever before, some other states are closing or restricting their borders to outside travelers coming from certain areas. If you’re traveling on assignment, these restrictions don’t necessarily all apply to you. Most states have made exceptions for essential workers, but it is still important to know all the rules before you travel. This will allow you to plan ahead and possibly arrive in a city a few weeks before your assignment starts if you are expected to quarantine. Restrictions can change week-by-week and even day-by-day, but here are some of the states that have travel restrictions as of Thursday, July 2.
Connecticut, New York and New Jersey
Governors of the tri-states all came together late in June and decided they would place restrictions on travelers coming from high COVID areas. Travelers coming from a state that has a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average are expected to quarantine for 14 days.
These states as of Thursday are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. You can always check for updates here.
Each of the three states has slightly varied exemptions for essential workers and short-term travel, as well as enforcement.
In New York, essential workers, which includes almost any kind of health care worker, “should seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours) to ensure they are not positive.” They’re also directed to avoid spending prolonged time in public places or congregate settings for at least 7 days. So don’t go to the outdoor patio bar until you’ve gotten your COVID test results back. If you are reported or caught violating any of these travel restrictions in New York, you’re subject to a $2,000 fine. Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t gone into great detail about what enforcement will look like, but you might want to have some kind of hospital or work identification with you at all times, especially in the airport. You can read the full travel advisory here.
Connecticut’s travel policy is a little more lax. It simply states that travelers who work in critical infrastructure as designated by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are exempt from quarantine. You might want to call the helpline if you are working somewhere that is not an Emergency Room, because the CISA only designates “emergency medical services” as essential. Connecticut has no fine for violators of the quarantine. “It will be up to individuals to abide by the advisory.”
Finally, New Jersey says that anyone “traveling for business” is exempt from the quarantine rule. While vague, this should include travel nurses. And the quarantine is technically voluntary.
At the start of June, New Mexico reinstated its order that outside travelers from anywhere must self-quarantine for 14 days. Healthcare workers are excluded from this policy, but if you have friends or family traveling with you, check out all the rules related to travel quarantine here.
Rhode Island’s list of states subject to travel restrictions is even longer than the tri-state list. You can check out the current 24 states here. If you’re traveling from one of these states, you are expected to quarantine for 14 days, OR you can get a COVID-19 test and only quarantine until you receive negative results.
If you need to go to work straight away, you can also get a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to your arrival in Rhode Island, and the restrictions will be waived when your results come back negative.
Maine requires that all travelers coming from anywhere except New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, quarantine for 14 days, or get a COVID-19 negative test result shortly before or after arriving. Maine is particularly strict with its policy, and requires non-residents to sign a Certificate of Compliance indicating either that they have received a negative COVID-19 test result or that they will quarantine in Maine for 14 days. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, hotel or any other kind of lodging, you’ll be expected to present this Certificate of Compliance to the owner of said establishment. Essential workers are exempt from this.
Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts
To check out the details of all these states’ travel restrictions, go to this Southwest page. Southwest, and most other airlines, keep track of all the changing travel restrictions on their home sites, so keep checking them regularly to see if any of these policies might affect you.
Itching to travel to your next destination?
Now that you’re informed about how to keep yourself safe while traveling, are you ready to pick a new nursing gig? Remember that with Stability Healthcare, you can easily find great travel nursing placements. Sign up today!
It is an important time in history for healthcare professionals to examine their own internal biases, and also look at the health care system as a whole. Studies have shown that by and large, Black Americans get less, and sometimes worse, care than white Americans. And much of this discrepancy comes from a distrust sown from years of abuse. We have a list of books you can read to gain a deeper understanding of this history. But if you want a quick overview, here are some things you should know about healthcare and racism.
The Tuskegee experiment
The Tuskegee experiment wasn’t the first time that healthcare professionals mistreated black patients, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But the 40 year study on syphilis that started in 1932 would become infamous among Black people in America. And it would come to represent the way white medical professionals value Black lives. So as a nurse, it’s important you know what happened.
In Macon County, Alabama, 600 Black men were chosen as subjects for a study on untreated syphilis among Black communities. But most of them had no idea they were participating in the study. It was conducted by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and involved blood tests, x-rays, spinal taps and eventually, autopsies of the subjects. The men chosen for this study, mostly because doctors had recognized syphilis in their lab reports, were simply told they were being treated for “bad blood.” And many received no treatment at all.
Even after penicillin was discovered as a safe and reliable cure for syphilis, the majority of men did not receive it.
On top of knowingly allowing Black men to die of a treatable disease, the experiment was rooted in pseudoscience and incorrect, racist theories of medicine. Scientists at the time believed Black men to be naturally hyper-sexual, and thus more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases. They attributed the lower birth rate and higher miscarriage rates among black communities to STDs, without any real evidence of this being true. Many doctors and medical professionals operated under the assumption that Black men had larger genitals but smaller brains, and thus were inherently sexually perverse and immoral. This kind of pseudoscience helped reinforce the most common motive for lynching black men: accusing them of raping white women. Thus the most brutal forms of racism during the Jim Crow era were inherently linked to healthcare and to the Tuskegee Experiment itself, which in some ways existed to service sexual stereotypes about Black communities.
It was also at the root of scientists’ hypothesis that Black men and women were so unintelligent that they would not seek treatment for syphilis or other diseases. By the 1950s, though, doctors involved in the study were actively trying to stop their patients from learning of or seeking treatment for their disease. And even against their best efforts, 30 percent of subjects who survived to that point had received penicillin treatments.
None of it made sense. Saying that Black men were too “stoic” to seek out or retain treatment for syphilis was inherently flawed because their subjects were told they were already receiving treatment. But the point was to reinforce the idea that Black communities are less likely to seek out medical treatment and thus their higher death and infection rates made sense, absent of any medical malice. It’s important to note because this belief still exists in medicine today.
There’s a lot more to learn about the experiment. This site gives a great and more detailed overview. A final note on the study: It continued until 1972, two decades after the Nuremberg code was written to prohibit harmful human experimentation.
Eugenics and forced sterilization
There were 5,000 black women sterilized without their consent from 1933 to 1973 in North Carolina alone. Never heard of forced sterilization? This is how it happened.
Back in 1849, a Texas biologist and physician proposed a bill mandating sterilization of the mentally handicapped and any of those possessing genes he deemed “undesirable.” The proposed law was rooted in a growing philosophy of the time called eugenics. Eugenics was a belief, largely held by scientists, that you could improve the human species by controlling reproduction, only allowing the birth of children whose parents have “desirable” genetic traits. It was inherently racist. The bill didn’t come to a vote in 1849, but it was the first of its kind. And would come up again and again in the decades to come.
Finally by 1909, Indiana, California and Washington all successfully passed mandatory sterilization laws for the “feebleminded,” meaning mentally handicapped. In 1927, the Supreme Court ruled that forced sterilization was not against the constitution. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”.
By the 1960s, tens of thousands of Americans were sterilized in state-run eugenics programs, according to investigative reporters for NBC News. NBC interviewed women who had gone into the hospital for some kind of procedure, sometimes to give birth, and afterwards, without their consent, were sterilized. One woman, Elaine Riddick, discovered records that an 8-person eugenics board in Raleigh, North Carolina had deemed her “feebleminded” and “promiscuous” and recommended she be sterilized. She was only 13 years old at the time, and was pregnant after being raped by her neighbor. This was what eugenics programs did. A group of white men assessed patients they had never met and deemed whether they were fit to bear children.
This practice was all but endorsed by the White House in the 1970s, when the Nixon administration dramatically increased Medicaid-funded sterilization of low-income Americans, predominantly people of color. While Nixon’s policy required voluntary consent from patients, this restriction was largely evaded. Thousands of patients have come forward to say that they were sterilized without their consent. Almost all of them were black women, Native American women and Puerto Rican women. The last known legal forced sterilization was performed in Oregon in 1981.
Sickle Cell disease
It’s widely known among the medical community that sickle cell disease is more common among Black Americans. Sickle cell is a genetic disease that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body, and it can cause chronic pain, multi-organ failure and stroke. Because sickle cell is genetic and scientists guess that it began in West Africa, Americans with a strong African ancestry are more likely to have it.
It’s no coincidence that sickle-cell impacts Black Americans more acutely than any other race and sickle-cell research receives far less funding than comparable diseases. There are more cases of sickle cell than cystic fibrosis, yet cystic fibrosis receives 3.5 times more funding. For this reason, there has been far less progress in treating and preventing sickle cell, even though 1 out of 13 black babies are born with the genetic trait.
While life expectancy for almost every major medical condition has increased in recent years, the life expectancy for sickle-cell has decreased. In 1994, life expectancy for sickle cell patients was 42 for men and 48 for women. By 2005, life expectancy had dipped to 38 for men and 42 for women.
It’s not just about funding and research. The way patients with sickle-cell are treated plays a large role in their ability to survive the disease. Many cases of sickle-cell get misdiagnosed, even though a genetic test will make it clear whether a patient has the trait. One medical student said that she was taught to be careful with sickle-cell testing because “they might become de facto paternity tests.” While a sickle-cell test does reveal genetic inheritance patterns, so do tests for cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease. She said there was never a concern about revealing a different “baby-daddy” in these other tests.
Sickle-cell involves dramatic episodes of pain, which need to be treated or they can result in death. But many patients are told to go home, or are left waiting in an emergency room for hours when they are admitted for a sickle-cell flare up. This connects to a pattern of medical professionals continually doubting and undermining the pain of their Black patients.
There’s a fact getting passed around the internet recently that encapsulates the problem with how Black patients are treated: Black Americans were actually spared in the opioid addiction crisis because physicians were so resistant to prescribing them pain medication.
According to MedPage Today, white patients are twice as likely to receive opioids for migraines or back pain as black patients. This is rooted in the false belief that Black patients feel pain less acutely than white patients. A study in 2016 found that half of white medical students in a 200+ person survey believed that there were biological differences between how white and black patients experience pain. And these respondents were more likely to suggest inappropriate treatment for black patients, underscoring how false ideas about race and medicine can cause physicians to act incorrectly in many cases.
This viral Tik Tok coming from white OBG-YN Dr. Jennifer Lincoln puts it best: “It’s a holdover from the days of slavery, when white people needed to feel better about abusing slaves. Black people used to be operated on without anesthesia and were used in studies without their consent, so this was a convenient lie. To this day, Black people are less likely to get the same treatment in terms of pain medication. They’re more likely to wait longer in the emergency room. They’re less likely to be taken seriously. It’s a holdover from the days of slavery.”
As Lincoln pointed out in her Tik Tok, perception of Black pain plays a huge role in the maternal morbidity crisis, one of the most modern areas of blatant racism in healthcare.
According to the CDC, Black women in the U.S. are 243% more likely to die from pregnancy than white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Researchers also said that about 60% of all pregnancy related deaths can be prevented with better care.
Many signs of preeclampsia, a dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy which is the leading cause of maternal death, often go ignored for black patients, as the New York Times reported back in 2018. Preeclampsia and the seizures that develop after preeclampsia are 60% more common for Black women. This quote from Times piece seems most telling:
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel.”
And while some might chalk a higher infant and maternal mortality rate up to lower income and lack of education, this actually factors very little. A black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.
Even American exceptionalism, or the belief that we are the leader of the world in scientific and all kinds of advancement, is brought crashing down as a result of racism. The lack of care American healthcare offers to Black mothers causes it to rank at the very top among industrial countries in infant and maternal mortality rates. That’s not a list you want to come in at #1. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago.
Doulas, or a medically trained woman who offers guidance and support during pregnancy and birth, have made a comeback in recent years, as one potential solution to improving care for Black mothers. Community-based doula groups have popped up in cities across the country aimed at providing black women in particular the care they are not getting from their doctors.
Finally, the most recent instance of racism in healthcare is happening right now. The COVID-19 death rate for black Americans is 2.33 times higher than the death rate for white Americans, according to a report put out by the APM Research Lab on June 11. The blog Scientific American put this into context: If Black Americans were dying at the same rate white Americans were, 13,000 people would still be alive.
In today’s health crisis, there’s a throughline of all the historical racism we have detailed for you above. For a century, doctors and physicians have claimed that Black people are genetically dispositioned to contract certain diseases, to die earlier, to wait too long to seek out care. And with the great racial disparity of COVID-19, you’re seeing them do it again. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, who was a doctor before he was elected, said that there were “genetic reasons” for why Black residents were dying at a higher rate than white residents. He cited no evidence. Scientists writing in Lancet and Health Affairs, some of the world’s leading medical journals, have also cited unknown genetic and biological factors as a possible cause for higher Black death in COVID-19, also providing no evidence.
The widely held concept that there are genetic factors that lead Black Americans to have higher blood pressure and diabetes is dispelled pretty well here. The reality is there are environmental factors that cause Black patients to have underlying conditions like asthma, which could make their COVID symptoms worse: higher rates of pollution in black neighborhoods, lack of quality housing, limited access to healthy food, and racial discrimination in healthcare, for starters.
On top of these underlying health conditions, the care that Black Americans receive when they get sick is also killing them at higher rates. As has been proven in studies and anecdotal evidence throughout history, doctors and physicians tend to not take Black patients’ pain as seriously as white patients. And this has been displayed as many Black patients claim to have been denied COVID-19 tests despite displaying symptoms. According to a study from research firm Rubix Life Sciences, Black patients displaying COVID-19 symptoms were six times less likely to receive testing or treatment, in comparison to white patients who exhibited symptoms.
White communities are also more likely to have more testing sites than Black neighborhoods. NPR reported that Nashville, Tennessee was initially unable to transport tests and PPE to testing sites in neighborhoods that were predominantly Black. And in Chicago, Black neighborhoods had lower testing rates than white neighborhoods.
Once again, Dr. Lincoln’s Tik Tok says it best: “Doctors, nurses, anybody in the medical field, check your implicit bias. Stop yourself every time you’re caring for somebody who has a different skin color than you and check your bias.”Read More
Right now, healthcare workers are marching on the frontlines of fighting a global pandemic. May 6, commemorates National Nurses Day, and now more than ever, we should celebrate. While many states and local governments canceled events to celebrate the occasion, these businesses are still cheering up healthcare workers by offering amazing discounts and freebies during Nurses Week and the rest of the month.
Nurses Week Deals
Most of these companies are helping nurses and healthcare workers through discounts, donations, and special deals to thank them for their service. This Nurses Week, sales are reaching an all-time high with more businesses joining the party.
Adidas: Currently offering a 40% discount to all verified healthcare workers, including nurses, paramedics, and first responders. All you need is a valid ID and visit: https://www.adidas.com/us/discount-programs.
Mrs. Fields: Through the end of May, healthcare workers can use the code NURSEs and receive a 25% discount on their “Heroes Collection” sweets.
Nursing.com: Are you a nursing student? Then Nursing.com is here to help. They’re currently offering a 36% discount plus a 7-day free trial to their Nursing Student Academy.
Nike: For a limited time, you can receive a 20% discount code to healthcare workers and first responders.
OtterBox: As a thank you to all frontline workers, OtterBox is giving away a 40% discount code to use on all their products.
The North Face: For the rest of the year, The North Face will offer healthcare workers a 50% discount online. For details, please visit their offer page.
Uniform Advantage: To celebrate Nurses Week, Uniform Advantage is giving 30%-50% discounts on nursing scrubs.
Vohra Wound Care: Continue your education and further your career with this FREE Vohra Wound Care Certification Program. Also, to receive 20 CNE credits, use promo code “COVIDNURSE50” for a $50 discount on any educational package.
Nurses Week Freebies
Beyond sales, some companies are helping healthcare workers and nurses by offering free services and products. From coffee to hotel rooms and flights, these are the companies celebrating Nurses Week with plenty of freebies.
Chipotle: On May 6, to celebrate National Nurses Day, verified healthcare workers can receive a FREE burrito. Check Chipotle’s offer website for details.
Circle K: Stop by any location and enjoy FREE coffee or tea when presenting your worker’s ID.
Crocs: The shoe giant has been quite the supporting friend to healthcare workers during the pandemic. Every day at 12 p.m. ET the brand offers free shoes to healthcare workers through the offer website.
Delta Airlines: While they’re not offering a vacation, they’re helping healthcare workers get to the cities that need them the most, currently offering FREE services to those going to Georgia, Louisiana, and Michigan. Please visit their website for details.
Dunkin’: Vist any location on May 6 and receive a free medium hot or iced coffee and a free doughnut — no purchase necessary.
Hilton Hotels: Working with American Express, the hotel chain is offering up to 1 million rooms to healthcare workers traveling to be on the frontlines of the pandemic. The offer will be valid until the end of May and might be the best solution for travel nurses.
H&R Block: Throughout May, healthcare workers can file both federal and state tax returns for FREE using H&R Block’s Tax Pro Go.
Lyft Scooters: If you’re currently working in Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, Metro DC, San Diego, and Santa Monica, enjoy a 30-minute FREE Lyft scooter drive.
Krispy Kreme: Every Monday until May 11, first responders and healthcare workers can receive FREE dozens at any Krispy Kreme location. All you need is to show your identification badge.
Marriott Hotels: Also, in partnership with American Express, the hotel chain will open up to $10 million in rooms for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who have to move during the COVID-19 pandemic.
OYO Hotels: All active medical personnel can request FREE room stays in the U.S. at any OYO Hotel location.
Red Roof Inn: Until the end of the month, Red Roof Inn will donate several rooms to healthcare workers. Plus, they’ll continue to offer a 20% discount to first responders and medical personnel.
Sheetz: Stay awake with this offer from Sheetz. Until June, nurses and healthcare workers can get a FREE coffee kick when showcasing their badge.
Snickers: Treat yourself to something sweet. Snickers is giving out FREE vouchers that can be redeemed at Walmart to healthcare workers and nurses. To get your coupon visit, https://sendasnickersfromhome.com/
Starbucks: Since the pandemic started, the coffee giant has been there for first responders and healthcare workers. Stop by any location and enjoy FREE coffee to help you stay awake and moving.
Talkspace: There’s no doubt that the mental health impact this pandemic has on nurses, and first responders is unmeasurable. Talkspace, a mental health app, understands this very well. The app is offering one month FREE to anyone that signs up using an NPI or a work badge identification.
Tide: The last thing in your mind is laundry. Tide is here to help you keep your and your family’s clothes clean. Until May 9, Tide will offer FREE laundry services and dry cleaning to the families of healthcare workers.
Uber: The giant ride-sharing company is offering medical personnel, first responders, nurses, doctors, and at-home physicians FREE rides, as well as FREE rides for patients with UberHealth, and FREE UberEats deliveries.
Celebrate a Nurse this Week
To all healthcare workers, first responders, and travel nurses in the frontlines of COVID-19, we salute you. Use these discounts, freebies, and special offers to celebrate your greatness and continue lifting your spirit. From all of us here at Stability, we, thank you.
At the time of this writing, there are 193,475 confirmed cases, 7,864 deaths, and 164 countries battling the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. While millions of people choose to self-quarantine, practice social distancing, and stay home, healthcare workers remain at the forefront lines of defense against the virus. So far, dozens if not hundreds of healthcare workers have fallen ill with COVID-19, and more are quarantined after exposure to the virus, leaving the U.S. health system with an unexpected shortage of staff in hospitals.
How Healthcare Workers Are Keeping Up
When something like a virus outbreak turned pandemic occurs, the manuals of operations change on a daily if not on an hourly basis. The constant shift of recommendations from the CDC, hospital management, and the media can leave healthcare workers at a loss. Finding the right protocol in a situation that continues to evolve can be challenging for many hospitals. Let alone for conversations and best practices to trickle down to every healthcare worker in the facility.
Adjusting to the News
Due to the massive extent of the virus, with confirmed cases in all 50 states of the United States, the shortages of personal protective equipment is unavoidable. In response to this shortage, the CDC scaled back on its recommendations about PPE for personnel working with COVID-19 patients.
For example, the use of N95 respirators is now recommended to be reserved with procedures in which small particles are more likely to be produced, versus at all times. To deal with the shortage, the CDC is now recommending surgical masks as an alternative for N95 respirators. Other PPE, such as eye protection, gloves, and gowns, are still recommended.
The Quarantine Dilemma
Another issue both healthcare workers and hospitals are facing is the current quarantine protocol. So far, when a patient tests positive for COVID-19, large groups of staff members, including doctors, nurses, and administrative staff are placed on quarantine for at least 14 days before getting back to work. This is leaving hospitals short on staff to continue to address the situation.
Recently, the Berkshire Medical Center in Massachusetts quarantined 160 employees after exposure to patients who tested positive. This quarantine forced the center to find 54 temporary nurses to support the shortage of staff. Situations like this are happening all across the nation, leaving hospitals and healthcare personnel more vulnerable than ever before.
Besides, it’s not just those at hospitals and medical centers that are exposed. Caregivers outside hospitals and nursing homes are also vulnerable and exposed to risks.
Most healthcare workers understand the risk and have a call to stay in the front lines of defense against the outbreak. However, putting large staff groups in quarantine for 14 days after contact with COVID-19 patients is not a viable solution due to the shortage of staff happening allover.
Understanding the Risk
It’s essential to understand the occupation risk with COVID-19 and how to protect personnel that falls under each category. Here are some recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
For Low Exposure Risk Workers
These are jobs that don’t require contact with people known to be or suspected of being infected with the virus. They don’t have close contact with the general public and other coworkers.
- Additional PPE is not required
- Other controls are not necessary. Workers should continue operations as usual
For Medium Exposure Risk Workers
Workers with high-frequency interaction with the general public. In this case, additional measurements need to be implemented to make sure they’re working in a safe environment.
- Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, where feasible
- In addition to N95 respirators, workers with medium exposure risk need some combination of gloves, a gown, a face mask, and a face shield or goggles
For High and Very High Exposure Risk Workers
These are healthcare workers at the front lines of treating patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases. In this instance, making sure the optimal levels of security are in place is paramount to safeguard their wellbeing and health.
- Making sure they wear all PPE gear to prevent contamination
- Have standards in place for how to proceed if a worker tests positive for COVID-19
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
If you’re a healthcare provider working through the COVID-19 outbreak, your family’s safety is most likely one of your top priorities. Even as your workplace takes significant safety precautions, you’re still in a risky environment, which exposes your loved ones to the virus.
As you return home, make sure you:
- Thoroughly wash your hands before greeting your family
- Wash any clothes you’re wearing
- If you’re a medium to high-risk healthcare personnel, considering keeping distance with your family members
- Ensure your home remains clean and disinfected every day
- Recommend that they self-quarantine if possible to prevent exposure
While the situation continues to evolve, keep track of everything you can do to stay safe, and keep your loved ones safe as well. Remember, like many other pandemics, this too shall pass. Try to focus on self-care, attend your mental health, and do your best to manage your stress levels. Find support within your community and loved ones. Remind yourself of your value to society and bravery for being at the front lines of the situation and find comfort in the thought that you’re saving lives each day.Read More
As a travel nurse, you’re at the frontlines of defense against the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As confusion, anxiety, and fear continue to escalate, the outbreak shows no slowing signs with more than 101,900 confirmed cases, 3,486 deaths, and 94 countries with cases, as of March 7th. Let’s explore the various ways you can stay safe as a travel nurse.
Keep Up with the Updates
While you don’t have to read every five-minute alert about the Coronavirus, knowing the basics is paramount. What we know about the COVID-19 virus right now is that it spreads person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced by coughs or sneezes. There’s some belief that if a person touches a surface infected with COVID-19 and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes, the virus can also enter the system.
The incubation period is anywhere between 2-14 days, with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are very similar to the common flu or a cold.
How to Stay Safe as a Travel Nurse
Although there’s no way to prevent the infection, taking careful measurements is your best defense against the Coronavirus. The CDC recommends that all healthcare professionals working throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to practice Standard Precautions, Contact Precautions, and Airborne Precautions.
- Hand Hygiene: using alcohol-based wipes and washing your hands. Remember to do this before and after touching a patient, even if you use gloves, after contact with fluids or blood, after aseptic tasks, and after glover removal.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment: always wear gloves, gowns, goggles, and face shields, as well as N95-or higher respirators.
- Use Disposable Patient-Care Equipment: if there’s multiple-patient equipment that can’t be disposed of, then clean and disinfect the equipment before re-using.
- Limit transport of patient: make sure patients are in a room that requires minimal interaction outside of the room, even for medical purposes.
- Follow Etiquette Procedures: adhere to respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and triage procedures throughout the visit.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Avoid touching any public surfaces, bathroom handles, doors, etc.
Myths and Facts about the Coronavirus
With so much information out there, it can be challenging to differentiate what’s real from what’s not. Make sure you’re always fact-checking updates with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who continue to share valid information every hour.
COVID-19 Is Deadly – Myth
Fact: Not to degrade the toll of the losses to Coronavirus, but so far, the fatality rate for this disease is still under four percent. Almost 80% of the cases report mild symptoms, with some people reporting no symptoms at all. At the moment, those who are at higher risk are people over the age of 60, smokers, and those with underlying medical conditions. Not to mention, fatalities are linked t further complications exacerbated by the virus, not the COVID-19 infection itself.
The Virus Only Affects Old People – Myth
Fact: While older populations are at higher risk, the Coronavirus can affect people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. What’s true, though, is that older people are more susceptible to complications and, as with any other virus, have a harder time fighting the illness.
Alcohol Wipes Kill the Virus – Myth
Fact: While it’s partially true that using rubbing-alcohol wipes can help disinfect your hands, it won’t prevent the virus from entering your system. Make sure you’re using a hand sanitizer with over 60% alcohol to kill microbes. Using hand sanitizing wipes will also help you get the bacteria off your hands and surfaces.
More Resources for Healthcare Professionals
As a travel nurse, odds are you’re taking the necessary steps to stay safe already. Beware that if you’re in the process of starting a new assignment, or if you’re being transferred to a new hospital to support the Coronavirus efforts, you’re likely to get tested before you can start your new position.
In the meantime, take the news with a grain of salt. Stay updated with your hospital’s prevention and containment plans. For more, here are some resources by the CDC:
- Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist For Transport and Arrival of Patients Potentially Infected with COVID-19
- Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19
- Sequence for Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Important Steps for Using NIOSH-Approved N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators
- Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
As always, if you have questions about how to manage your travel nursing assignments during the Coronavirus outbreak, feel free to contact our representatives for guidance.