The Doctors are privileged to meet one of the many frontline heroes who are helping in the fight against COVID.
We meet travel nurse Chelsea, who discusses her career in healthcare in the midst of a pandemic. She says during the last 8 months, she has seen more grieving families, more nurses and doctors brought to tears, and more death than ever before. Since February, she has worked in 6 different hospitals in 4 different states, mainly working with COVID patients. In the worst cases, she was often the last person a COVID patient saw before dying.
Chelsea says due to regulation changes about the virus, the type of provided PPE changed and N95 masks were not issued to her. She says this put her life at risk and soon after the change in protective gear, she began feeling COVID symptoms. She and her family tested positive for the coronavirus.
"It made me feel guilty and broken because if they died it would have been my fault," Chelsea shares, saying she and her family are recuperating from the virus.
Despite being surrounded by heartbreak, Chelsea has been able to find some inspiring moments, including how she befriended a patient named Craig, who was battling COVID alone. When she first met him, she feared he was not going to survive. She made it her mission to visit him each day and slowly he got better and better and Chelsea is happy to share he is now at home with his family.
Craig and his wife Holly join the show and he tells us that Chelsea "was amazing. She was there for every step of the way." Holly adds, "You were everything... you went above and beyond... I don't know if I could ever repay you, but thank you."
To improve the current healthcare system, Chelsea created a manifesto after talking to thousands of travel nurses who shared their ideas on how to make nursing jobs safer.
Covid-19 Travel Nurse Manifesto made by Covid-19 Travel Nurses
1. All state nursing licenses should be made nationally transferable within all 50 states. There should be no division of nursing licenses between state lines, at least while pandemic outbreaks continue. This helps in reaching crisis “hot-spots” quicker and prevents local hospitals and communities from becoming overwhelmed.
2. Community education is imminently required about each person in America needing living wills, end-of-life decisions, and healthcare proxies documented before an emergency arises. Community education also needs to be performed about flu season, urgent care, and emergency department use.
3. Universal standards need to be adequately implemented for required PPE usage by all hospital staff in each/every situation that arises. Proper use needs to be solidified and communicated appropriately across state lines. Many healthcare workers no longer trust the CDC or hospital administration to make PPE decisions for staff. Hospitals need to provide adequate PPE to all staff - no excuses. A new medical body consisting of active nurses and doctors needs to be created. That medical body will be the definitive judge of PPE and exposure rules. This medical body will replace the CDC’s role across the American medical system. The CDC can continue making rules for the General public, but can no longer be trusted to make appropriate rules for within medical systems.
4. Mandated national staffing ratios are needed and should be enforced with penalties to hospitals that do not comply. This causes an increased risk of harm to both patients and staff. This has been a problem nationally since before the pandemic. It needs to be addressed NOW.
5. Travel medical worker contracts need to be made enforceable on both sides with significant penalties for hospitals that cancel or break contract causing damage, harm, or loss to medical workers. Travel medical workers come to help hospitals, traveling far, leaving families, spending money on non-refundable plane tickets, and monthly housing. Recently, there has been an alarming trend of hospitals breaking contracts with nurses for no reason and leaving them jobless and without pay in foreign places. No repercussions to the hospitals. No leverage for the travel workers. These contracts are one-sided. This needs to end.
6. Customer satisfaction/service scoring needs to be removed from hospital care. It does not work in medically benefiting patients, staff, or communities at whole. Focus should not be on star ratings based on patient opinions, rather focus should be on overall improvement of medical care itself, only. If hospitals are unwilling to comply, staff are to perform their own satisfaction surveys about the job environment which are sent to directly to governing body or publicly posted online for everyone to see how healthcare workers are being treated.
7. Medical staff need to be provided adequately covered breaks for every shift worked. Penalties for any hospitals that do not comply. Nationwide nurses continue to beg for adequate breaks, with little to no concern from hospital administrations.
8. Violence used against healthcare workers needs to be made a felony and enforced as such in EVERY state. Physical abuse by patients will no longer be tolerated.
9. Medical facilities need to start transitioning into a ‘healthcare for all’ billing position. It’s where our medical system is currently headed. It’s the only option Americans have at this time to rebuild once the pandemic is over.
10. Guaranteed and significantly increased pay by hospital or government for ALL hospital staff that provide any hands-on care to any COVID-19 or PUI patients at any time. Hazard pay.
11. No longer ‘do more with less’ actions by hospital administration are expected to be tolerated by any hospital staff.
12. Nursing assistants, housekeeping, secretaries, and all necessary ancillary staff need to be re-hired in facilities that are now lacking staff from COVID-19 pandemic and are to be re-hired at a significantly higher pay rate. Those workers deserve the pay raise, and the nurses need their help to continue.
13. Any/all newly-discovered hospital staff covid-19 infections are to immediately be made known by administration to the rest of staff employed in those departments/units, or all other staff in those departments/units are to receive free and immediate testing to keep everyone who is working safe. Those staff who are infected are to be provided guaranteed quarantine pay and medical coverage.
14. Programs that focus on psychological and physical assistance for affected pandemic workers are to be implemented in every hospital across the country.
15. Any medical workers who work in ‘crisis’ or ‘disaster’ areas for work are to be exempt from all federal taxes during that time.
16. Medical charting takes too much time away from patient care. Administrations are to simplify and reduce redundancy in all charting aspects to improve patient care, especially when in a crisis or disaster mode, or when the state is declared a safe harbor.
17. All medical workers are to receive medical insurance until the pandemic subsides.
18. JCAHO needs to either be replaced with a new organization that truly protects staff and patients, or it needs to be completely reorganized internally and externally.
19. Any financial aid directed to healthcare by federal means can only be redistributed by workers with healthcare degrees who have spent considerable time working with patients in a hands-on hospital position AND a management or accounting position. Money is being given to the wrong people in hospital administrations and is preventing the correct direction of spending which is directly impacting quality of care.
20. Family visitation in hospitals is currently a problematic issue. Safe nationwide rules regarding this need to be implemented and enforced.
21. The Covid-19 vaccine is NOT to be made mandatory for hospital staff AT ANY TIME within the next two consecutive years. Rather, it will be left as optional and the worker can decide for themselves. Nurses are tired of being the Guinea Pigs in 2020. Hospital workers are already wearing masks throughout worked shifts. There is no reason to mandate hospital workers to accept the vaccine when it has knowingly been rushed to production.
22. CDC, political leaders, and hospital administrations and corporations need to apologize to medical workers for putting their lives on the line knowing this virus was dangerous and airborne from the very beginning.