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Changing Hospital Culture to Retain Nursing Staff

What changes can we make to improve hospital care during the pandemic? Better staffing? Better protective, safety measures? And what about lifestyle measures – are you rotating your staff in a manner that allows adequate rest, refreshment to withstand another shift treating Covid patients? Have you done everything necessary to protect and support nurses, the frontline care providers of the pandemic?

Prior to the pandemic, the transfer of virus and pathogens through scrubs worn in the hospital setting was documented, yet nurses have been and are being asked to treat Covid patients without protective gear. Regardless of OSHA definitions of protective clothing, scrubs are inadequate hospital uniforms for Covid care. External clothing designed to minimize contamination is necessary and should be changed when bodily fluids splash onto the provider to limit cross-contamination. In scrubs-only settings, fresh uniforms, although costly, will go a long way toward letting your staff know they are valued. The change will limit transmittal and transfer of the detritus from care to nurses’ cars,, homes and families. And, providing nurses with onsite showers, laundry, and change facilities – typically reserved for physicians – will allow nurses to follow known infection control safety protocols. Changing these practices will reflect a renewed sensitivity to Covid virus mutations as well as a reprioritization of nursing staff needs.

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