Last night, one of our members wrote to me regarding her fears and concerns. Below are my comments to her. I hope this is helpful to our 32,000 RNs and health care professionals who are showing up every day to care for patients.
“I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond, but as you can imagine it’s crazy busy here. I am also concerned about the shortage of masks and testing. I understand it is hard to know what to believe regarding what to wear and when. I hear you when you say you think management and your union are ignoring you. UNAC/UHCP is attempting to protect our members’ health while encouraging them to use the things that probably offer them the greatest protection. While in the community, handwashing, not touching your face, and social distancing are our best options.
“As for the workplace, some nurses are asking for N95 masks even when they may not be completely warranted. RNs have been seen wearing them at the market and supplies are being stolen out of this nation’s hospitals. We know supplies are very, very limited. We are working diligently to make sure that as supplies become available, we participate in the rollout of those supplies as soon as possible in as many places as possible and of course we will encourage the appropriate training as needed where needed.
“We’re working with state and local officials, and health care leaders, to get supplies for our members as rapidly as they become available. Based on the fact that many of our supplies were made at ground zero in China and some are housed on ships waiting to complete quarantine, it has been especially challenging to get what we need.
“We know nurses are all over the TV, social media, and talk shows demanding more supplies. Demanding supplies will not produce them immediately. So we are working with experts to help educate our members and help support our members wherever we can. We are attempting to correct the misinformation that dominates Facebook.
“We have avoided spreading fear around things we cannot control. We have opted to support and protect our members and exercise our control on what and where we can, and that means long hours on the phone, rounding with our members, and speaking up for them. We know that some will feel ignored because unless they see an N95 mask, they won’t feel enough has been done. That is not our intent. We value our members and their commitment to our patients and our communities. That is our mission and thank you for writing.”
—Denise Duncan, RN, UNAC/UHCP President