Activating qualified clinicians for faster COVID-19 vaccine administration requires rapid onboarding by an already taxed healthcare workforce.
What: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a fifth amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to add additional categories of qualified persons authorized to prescribe, dispense, and administer COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This action would enable retired or inactive doctors and nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
Why: Creative solutions are needed urgently as the U.S. struggles to disseminate COVID-19 vaccine doses quickly and efficiently to millions of Americans, however there are downstream implications of such changes for hospitals and health systems that are already underwater. A cohesive and rapid onboarding strategy at these facilities is needed to ensure the burden of supporting newly activated staff does not fall on an already over-taxed workforce.
Who: Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN, is a practicing nurse practitioner in critical care for Penn Medicine, Chester County Hospital and clinical adjunct faculty for the College of Nursing & Health Professions for Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. Anne has over 36 years of experience in nursing and 22 years of experience as a nurse practitioner. She currently serves as Chief Nurse of Health Learning, Research & Practice, Wolters Kluwer.
“HHS’s most recent initiative acknowledges that we desperately need more support in handling this pandemic. I want to urge however that this is not going to be a plug-and-play solution. Clinicians entering the workforce or returning from retirement will need training and support around COVID-19 vaccine administration, and we need to do everything we can to ensure this responsibility doesn’t fall on our already over-worked frontline providers.”
“While HHS’ latest program to allow nursing students and recently retired nurses to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts is a step in the right direction, in some ways it is like putting a Band-Aid on something that needs sutures. There is a much bigger problem facing our nurses as they care for COVID patients from the ICU all the way to patients with long-haul symptoms in the community. Supporting vaccine distribution is critical to scaling the effort effectively and it adds a new dimension to the need for more cross training of our existing nursing workforce to create agility and efficiency within our existing health systems.”
“Hospitals have had to make impossible choices over the last few months. In many cases, elective procedures have been paused, forcing hospitals to furlough underutilized staff. However, these same facilities are experiencing massive nursing shortages in their ICUs, stepdown units, telemetry units and EDs. Instead of experiencing this staffing disparity, cross functional training can support load balancing of nurses across a hospital, preventing furloughs and staffing shortages.”
How: Contact Ashley Beine at [email protected] to schedule an interview with Anne Dabrow Woods. Journalists may also publish quotes above with proper attribution.