Ontario has rolled out a major overhaul to its emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a move that has disrupted patient-doctor communication and led to a focus on access to social distancing.
Nurses, with counterparts in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, will be tasked with helping patients without specific symptoms find appropriate and comfortable preventative measures to prevent the spread of the virus that has infected thousands across the country in two weeks.
Roughly half a million Ontarians work in health-care services, putting them in contact with patients as they should, but now has infected 3,700 and killed 491.
“We’re trying to bring our collective heads out of the shadows, light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sara Nickle, WHO-Essex’s director of Production Policy, Innovation and Fusion. “That’s what we’re aiming for.”
As the number of people infected or dying steadily drops, the Organization of the Nurse Management Association of Ontario (ONS) – along with Canada and worldwide – is having trouble finding skilled nurses.
Nurses, with counterparts in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, have been tasked with helping patients who have no symptoms with airway management and avoiding social distancing.
NSRA President Carol Rodin said terms like this are not just used by HMOs, but often Europe and North America. “What ‘needs’ is some good planning,” she said.
Workplaces such as the Ontario Hospital Departments Association and the League Against Breast Cancer (OBCBC) have called for significant changes to hospital processes, protocols and guideline changes.
“We’re keeping up the good work, we are focused the same way we were before the pandemic,” said Carolyn Cavagna, my North American business manager at NSRA. “We are working alongside many types of organizations to get the support we need to feel a part of this team.”
A 2017 study found that chronic shortages of protective gear – like N95 masks and decontamination paraphernalia – diminished the effectiveness of social distancing and led to individuals and health-care systems being told to leave home. At major hospitals like Toronto Health Sciences where responses were less than optimal, nurses were dismissed for being too busy to manage what a nurse might face in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
NSRA is expanding its services in areas that already have them, to include treating patients outside of the hospital and provides a dedicated nurse support line.
“We don’t want to feel unplanned,” said Nickle. “We are adapting to the times as we find ourselves, for the most part.”
NSRA is well-known for its role in helping to train critical-care practitioners in TB. The organization also developed its own TB simulator to share with the public.
The OBC, which represents nurses and midwives across Canada, does not share information on its website, said it does not use smartphone apps nor tracker apps, nor do they have a front-line response in many issues, explained Candice Cumming, GISP, chief of staff for the OBC.