As you know, we are facing a public health emergency unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. This has been declared a National Disaster Emergency, which forces us to reprioritize responses at many levels. The coronavirus pandemic is a clarion call to our profession to care for those in need, and we as nurses are stepping up. In this moment of crisis, we are demonstrating our most deeply held values as a profession to care for every patient.
WSNA’s top priority remains to make sure you, our members, have what you need to respond to this pandemic safely.
The stark reality is that our state does not currently have enough PPE, beds or health care workers to respond to the rapidly growing need. State officials are working to quickly expand the health system’s capacity to respond to the expected surge in COVID-19 patients by creating additional bed space, delaying elective surgeries and other procedures that can be put off, activating nurses who are not currently working in hospitals to support the effort, and other measures.
WSNA is working with our labor partners, including SEIU 1199 and UFCW 21, our congressional delegation, the Governor’s Office, state health officials, local health jurisdictions, the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), AFT Nurses and Health Professionals (AFT), the American Nurses Association (ANA) and others to respond to this crisis.
Specifically, we are:
- Working with our partners to prioritize distribution and use of PPE as it comes in through the Department of Health.
- Working with our partners to develop uniform protocols for screening and caring for suspected and known COVID-19 patients.
- Working to resolve urgent issues with state officials, WSHA and hospital administrators, including reuse of surgical masks and other PPE.
- Working with our labor partners to stand up for the safety of our members by developing statewide and facility-level agreements for the potential of floating nurses and other health care workers to facilities absorbing the surge of new cases.
- Reviewing and sharing the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC on use of PPE in a times of supply shortage and working to ensure those guidelines are followed in the hospitals where you work.
Visit our COVID-19 webpage for the latest information and links to trusted sources of information.
WSNA is doing everything we can to address protocols and practices of concern in your hospitals. We encourage you to continue reaching out to your nurse representatives with questions and concerns.
Nurses facing abnormally dangerous patient care assignments
You may have to make a decision about accepting an abnormally dangerous assignment. If you accept an abnormally dangerous assignment, fill out an ADO to document that you are accepting an assignment despite objection. Please reach out to your nurse representative if you find yourself in such circumstances.
DOH calls for volunteers
WA State Dept of Health is recruiting for immediate use of volunteer health practitioners. While an emergency proclamation from the Governor is in effect, a volunteer health practitioner who is licensed in another state may practice in Washington without obtaining a Washington license if they are in good standing in all states of licensure and are registered in the volunteer health practitioner system. Learn more.
We will continue to update you throughout this national emergency.
Thank you for all you do.
Sally Watkins, PhD, RN
WSNA Executive Director