Nurse’s CNN op-ed highlights urgent need for protective gear in covid-19 response
Theresa Brown’s piece explains that U.S. health workers like nurses must have personal protective equipment (PPE) to care effectively for patients during the covid-19 pandemic. But the U.S. seems to be unprepared, and the federal response so far inspires little confidence. The op-ed shows nurses to be strong advocates for public health as well as critical to the care such patients need.
March 20, 2020 – Today nurse Theresa Brown had a good op-ed on the CNN website about the urgent need for clinical health workers to get adequate protective gear in managing the covid-19 pandemic. “What my daughter fears for me” argues that the United States appears to be woefully unprepared for the outbreak generally, in part based on Brown’s personal experience at an airport after returning from a trip to Spain. But her particular focus is the “severe shortages of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses, doctors, and other health care workers.” Brown is critical of the Trump Administration’s response on that score, noting that its statements have varied from assertions that it is not the federal government’s job to provide health care equipment to vague statements that production of equipment is increasing, but with few specifics about how and when that will help those actually providing care. She stresses that protecting health workers is important because if they become ill, they cannot provide care to others. Reports about covid-19 “suggest that the sickest patients will need intensive care and long-term respiratory support to even have a chance at surviving.” And a system with fewer available health workers could be unable to help patients with covid-19 or those with other critical conditions like heart attacks, cancer, and trauma. Brown herself wants to return to the bedside once she completes her post-travel quarantine, but she seriously questions whether she will be safe, in light of the current PPE shortages. She argues that pleas on social media are not enough to address the shortages. Instead, because “nurses and doctors are the frontline soldiers in this war against the coronavirus,” the government must act to protect them. This piece shows readers that nurses are strong, informed public health advocates. Brown does not explain specifically what nurses do here, like the central role they play in managing ventilated patients and in providing intensive care generally. But she does place nurses on the front lines with physicians. We thank Brown and CNN. Sign our petition to get health workers the PPE they need!
See Theresa Brown’s op-ed “Nurse: What my daughter fears for me,” posted on the CNN site on March 20, 2020.