COVID-19 as a Force for Change: Nurses and the Public Co-Designing Better Healthcare
By Cole Edmonson
As a nurse in the midst of this pandemic, I practice one of what I consider to be a critical leadership characteristic--acknowledging vulnerability and its role in building resiliency in people and systems. It is applicable to us all whether we lead a nation, a health system or our family. On any given day I am a mix of emotions, pride, sadness, inspiration, concern, anger and hope, but mostly fervent determination. Determined, that we, together can carry the torch for what is right, what is best and what we know to be morally correct. My greatest hope is that we can all come together to understand and codify the lessons we have learned as a nation and what we must carry forward into a brave new world for healthcare, schools and public health to work to protect one another through achieving equity for all.
Like many nurses, having walked through the fire of previous outbreaks and epidemics, and now this pandemic, we have and will have our scars that no one can see or understand directly. We are forever changed as nurses, leaders and human beings. My colleague, Dr. Rose Sherman perhaps captured it best on her blog on emerging nurse leadership https://www.emergingrnleader.com/never-again
Shortages in needed healthcare existed before the pandemic and have exaggerated by this crisis. All the more reason for a call to action to ensure that our country makes the best use of its entire healthcare workforce by providing the public easier access to nurses and other healthcare providers and in more convenient settings such as telehealth visits from our homes and with nurses in schools. The NursesEverywhere Expand Nursing Care Survey fielded by the Harris Poll shows 75% of the public believe nurses should be able to treat patients via telehealth in their homes and 86% believe school nurses are necessary to safely re-open schools. As a force for social justice, 88% of the public believe that many healthcare disparities in this country could be improved by increased access to nursing care. https://3aaa9248-e569-4da8-ada5-c4c9b14e503e.filesusr.com/ugd/d52815_ea23c1bba67c46eebe9692cf2b69a54b.pdf
The call to action is to come together, understand our shared experience and to create a path forward to hold the gains we have seen for our patients, to heal the wounds, to celebrate our impact and to be accountable to our country for a progressive remaking of the system. Almost 90% of the public believe that patients should be able to receive the same level of care from nurses after the pandemic is over as they did during the pandemic. https://3aaa9248-e569-4da8-ada5-c4c9b14e503e.filesusr.com/ugd/d52815_ea23c1bba67c46eebe9692cf2b69a54b.pdf
The nursing profession and the public in partnership have a unique opportunity to make sure that lessons are learned from the pandemic and our health care system is made better. This means changing some of the old rules in healthcare that were interfering with needed care; changing rules requires that we all contribute to educating our elected officials about what works for us and what doesn’t. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the opportunities and inequities that exist in health care today, and it has given us the possibility for positive change. In my recent opinion to the editor of Houston Chronicle that was published, it highlights a real world example of how the public is not served well by a lack of modernization of licensing rules that prevent qualified and competent healthcare providers from caring for patients in desperate need of nursing care. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Opinion-Nurses-need-a-national-license-to-heal-15543753.php
We must not waste this opportunity to co-create better, more accessible, and more just healthcare, in honor of those on the frontlines that keep us safe, who’s struggles are clear, who’s sacrifice’s are real and for those we have lost in our profession, our families, as a nation and global community.
Please wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, if not for you then for everyone else including nurses everywhere.
This post was authored by:
Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAONL, FNAP, FAAN
Founding Member, NursesEverywhere
Local Global Citizen
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