We have ended another week of COVID-19, and sources continue to report an exponential increase in the number cases across the nation, as well as the world. For nurses, this means another week has gone by full of patients decompensating, needing intubation and ventilation, and perhaps not surviving this pandemic. Nurses and travel nurses have continued showing up for their patients day after day, despite the overwhelming fear of the unknown. And for that, I, and NurseFly, applaud you.
Travel Nursing COVID-19 Update
As you have read, I am currently in a contract in Denver, Colorado. I admire the bravery of those who are traveling to places like New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Michigan, and other cities are that becoming over-saturated with coronavirus patients. The number of crisis contracts being offered is still rising, and nurses are rushing to the rescue for these hard hit places. Pay ranges from $3200- $7200 per week with varying hours per week commitments and shifts available.
Critical care units and hospital floors across the nation are overflowing with COVID-19 patients. Critical care patients are being cared for in off-site units like Cath Labs, PACUS, and other areas that have been converted to accommodate ICU patients. They need travel nurses who can jump right in to help with these patients. Travel Nurses should know that crisis contracts will almost always include a float clause and you will be expected to work in any of the areas within your scope of practice. This may include taking a higher than average patient load, and adjusting your practice to a team nursing approach. I would not recommend this to first time travelers with little clinical experience.
The facility where I work currently has over 30 vented patients. In comparison, we usually house less than 10 vented patients. I have come to have an appreciation for Respiratory Therapists that I cannot overstate enough! These folks are often assigned to up to 10 vents and are constantly moving. Thank you RTs for everything you do now, and every day. NurseFly also offers jobs for Respiratory Therapists responding to the coronavirus pandemic that are paying up to $6800 per week!
Patients are not recovering quickly, and when they get crash they are getting sick fast. Do your best to prepare for these situations by knowing exactly what PPE you need and where it is located, and have supplies easily accessible for emergency situations.
The PPE Emergency and Travel Nursing
It is understandable that some nurses are hesitant to travel without knowing exactly what PPE is available to staff. I have not heard of contracts with ‘PPE clauses’ being approved, since most hospitals aren’t 100% sure when they will run out. Some hospitals have more supply than others, and some facilities are receiving a new supply every day, so it is hard to predict what will be available and when. Thankfully, we are still being supplied with proper PPE at my facility, but is hard to discern what is available elsewhere.
A close friend of mine arrived in New York City last week to work a crisis contract at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, one of the hardest hit facilities in the City. She has been supplied proper PPE and has an N95 mask. Almost all facilities are asking nursing to re-use masks to conserve PPE, including my own.
Administrations across the nation are also approving policies to conserve PPE, including allowing nurses to give care to multiple COVID-19+ patients in the same PPE, as long as hand hygiene is performed and new gloves are donned. This eliminates having to change gowns, masks, and clean face shields between patients, saving time and PPE. COVID units that do not have doors on their rooms are requiring staff to be in full PPE at all times. For example, a converted PACU with only curtains to divide the patient care areas would need to have staff properly protected at all times.
If you have your own N95 mask or a respirator, including the P100 , ask your recruiter if you will be allowed to wear it during your assignment. Many contracts are accepting staff without formal interviews. Travel nurses must ask their agencies to contact the hospital and confirm that it is okay to use your own PPE if improper PPE is available at the hospital.
On a brighter note, I have read or seen multiple news stories about private companies or organization donating money, equipment, planes, and other resources to the front lines of our nation. This is encouraging, and I hope that other corporations continue to follow this trend and help healthcare providers stay protected while trying to save others.
What’s Next for Nurses and COVID-19?
Travel nurses can expect to see the contracts with crisis rates continued to be offered. There is no indication that this pandemic will be slowing down in the next month. If you want to help out and probably make the best money of your nursing career, check out the dedicated NurseFly job board for COVID-19 travel nurse assignments.
Many states are waiving licensure regulation to expedite the arrival of helping hands. Read my article on licensure regulations to keep yourself up to date on the requirements.
Nurses need to watch out for each other and keep our practice safe during this pandemic. Support one another, discuss strategies to optimize PPE, and bring any ideas to management for approval.
Travel nurses and staff nurses are under A LOT of stress, both physical and emotional. I’ve seen posts shaming RNs for using humor to try and cope with the tension, and that is not okay. If you can find a moment each day to have a laugh with a co-worker, you may find you have a renewed motivation.
This is like nothing nurses have experienced in the last 50 years of healthcare. The volume of patients is expected to increase, and I know we are all doing our best to give safe care, and help as many patients as possible. I’ve seen healthcare providers across all disciplines come together as a team like never before.
Thank you to all the nurses and providers that have dedicated themselves to pushing through this pandemic, regardless of risks to themselves. We are humans caring for humans, and the value of that skill cannot be underestimated.
Stay safe, and Stay Well.