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April 7th of each year is World Health Day, a yearly celebration by the World Health Organization (WHO) to create awareness of health issues that impact not just our local communities but our world community. This year's focus is on the vital role played by nurses and midwives, a role that has seen an increased amount of focus as nurses play a crucial part on the frontlines in the effort to contain COVID-19.
The amount of nurses and midwives around the world is truly staggering, but their crucial work often goes unnoticed:
Nurses and midwives have a demonstrably positive effect on patient care and health services in general. The World Health Organization recommends these steps in order to improve health services:
There are many different kinds of nurses with many different specialties, but it's especially relevant right now to discuss emergency nurses, who have some of the most demanding jobs in the nursing field; in an era without a global pandemic, they see anywhere from 10 to 30 patients in their shifts. A fast-moving ER can fill up with 50 or more patients during a busy shift, leaving the nurse-to-patient ratio at 1:25 or worse! These patients are solely relying on the nurse's ability to assess them correctly.
The emergency department has a vital need for focused care and patient flow, which is why ER nurses are trained to recognize life-threatening situations, how to stabilize them, then get that patient to the proper place where they will be cared for long term. Emergency nurses have the responsibility of obtaining pertinent information and a plan of care to prepare a report for the physician and oncoming nurse. They specialize in recognizing life threatening conditions, while floor, step down, and critical care nurses specialize in the care of those patients.
It may feel like you can't do much during a time of social distancing to support the work nurses do, but even staying at home provides options.
Normally people send flowers or greeting cards to their doctors, but right now is a time when we should avoid sending physical items. But even a simple email of thanks can brighten someone's day. If you're particularly close to a nurse or have one among your family or friends, you may even want to send a gift card for a streaming service or online retailer! You can buy digital ones online and send them through email.
Let the world know how much you appreciate nurses and midwives! Post on your favorite social media about the importance of what they do, and if you know any personally, tag them. WHO recommends tagging them with #SupportNursesAndMidwives, but people also use #Nurses2020 and #midwives2020 as well.
Health organizations around the world have given their recommendations on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, and it's important to listen to them right now. So stay indoors, don't gather, and only leave the house when absolutely necessary. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. The best way you can show your appreciation to nurses right now is by reducing their massive workload and threat of infection.