COVID-19 Updates: The State of Staffing & PPE

With many states approaching their peak days as far as the number of cases and deaths attributed to COVID-19, people crave a path to normalcy. However, amid the pandemic, healthcare workers continue their fight to help as many people as possible, with limiting resources and staff members to support them. Coronavirus updates keep changing by the minute, if not by the second. With more confirmed cases, healthcare workers are still trying to piece together the ins and outs of this pandemic. For travel nurses, emergency nurses, and other essential healthcare personnel keeping up with COVID-19 updates are of the utmost importance for their health and wellbeing. 

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

As of this writing, there are 579,005 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and 22,252 total deaths, expanding across 55 jurisdictions. Signs of the spread slowing down are optimistic if people follow social distancing and stay at home. However, there’s no way to guarantee this will happen, and we’ll indeed be able to flatten the curve. 

While all of this is continuously happening, healthcare workers and facilities are now facing new challenges of their own. On the one side, healthcare facilities are now looking at strategies to mitigate personnel staffing shortages. On the other, healthcare personnel is scrapping for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as shortages continue to worsen. 

Healthcare Workers Looking for PPE

Right now, there’s a severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of PPE. Risk in demand, panic buying by healthcare facilities and civilians, hoarding, and misuse are leaving hospitals struggling to meet needs. The shortage of personal protective equipment is placing doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers at higher risks. 

From gloves, respirators, medical masks, face shields, goggles, aprons, and gowns, the need for PPE is real. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, beyond supplies diminishing, prices have surged. For example, surgical masks have increased prices six times. 

The concern with supplies is that it might take months to go back to normal. According to the World Health Organization, we need close to 89 million medical masks each month for the COVID-19 response. The number goes up to 76 million when we talk about examination gloves. Plus, 1.6 million goggles per month. To meet these rising demands, the WHO estimates that the manufacturing of PPE must increase by 40 percent. 

Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE You Should Know

As healthcare facilities left and right kept looking for ways to optimize the supply of PPE, the CDC stepped in with some guidelines. 

  • Reserve PPE for HCP and replace PPE typically used for source control with other barrier precautions such as tissues.
  • Use re-usable PPE that can be reprocessed.
  • Use PPE beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life for training.
  • Consider allowing healthcare personnel to extend the use of respirators, facemasks, and eye protection, beyond single patient contact.

Hospitals and Facilities Looking for Staff

At the frontlines of the outbreak, healthcare workers are finding themselves in an unprecedented staff shortage. Over 9,000 healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 over a week. However, the numbers are not one hundred percent accurate because many cases go unreported. The rise in cases correlates with the shortage of PPE to keep workers safe. Not to mention, ongoing staff shortages in healthcare isn’t a COVID-19 only problem. It’s estimated that even before the outbreak, the US needs to hire 2.3 million new healthcare workers by 2025 to care for the aging population qualitatively. 

So far, the states facing the most number of cases include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, closing the top five. Overall, job postings for healthcare workers tripled in the US in a matter of days. The top states with Coronavirus-related job openings include California, Washington, Georgia, Maryland, and New York. Altogether, these five states account for 61% of the job demand. Out of these job postings, about 21% of the market is looking for Registered Nurses. 

The surge in demand for healthcare personnel expands to government entities, nonprofits, the private sector, and beyond. Right now, trying to fill staffing gaps is one of the top priorities to control the outbreak. 

What Can You Do?

As a travel nurse, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to navigate the situation. If you’ve chosen to be part of the frontline warriors, reach out to your travel agency to start making the necessary arrangement. Right now, travel nurses with the flexibility to move from one state to another quickly are what most healthcare facilities need. Stability offers placement for nurses in many of the cities experiencing a surge in demand. For all the brave nurses out there, reaching out to the various states battling the outbreak, Stability wants to be your ally and partner to make sure your placement arrangements are as straightforward as possible, so you can focus on what matters the most – caring for others. 

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