[March 11, 2020] Today, March 11, the World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.
While Canada currently has 96 confirmed cases and one death – and as of 3:30 p.m. Saskatchewan has no cases – more than 121,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide.
As registered nurses we are neither nervous nor afraid – as a profession, we are unwavering in our commitment to care for our patients.
Every day we look after people who are sicker and more infectious than those with COVID-19 – it’s what we do as registered nurses.
What we are concerned about is our readiness to care for those who are infected and may require hospitalization.
As the first line of contact for patients and as the largest group of direct care providers in the system, we know that registered nurses are essential to caring for COVID-19 patients.
We will play a critical role in stopping the spread of the virus.
But we can only do this if the appropriate protections, equipment and staffing are in place.
Protecting healthcare professionals so that we can care for our patients is vital.
This is why SUN has joined nursing unions across the country in calling on governments and employers to adopt the precautionary principle.
There is still so much we do not know about COVID-19, but here's what we do know: without proper protective equipment, frontline healthcare workers can spread the infection to each other and to patients.
We need the protection of these healthcare workers to be a priority.
We are calling on government and employers to make OUR protection THEIR priority.
Here's what you as registered nurses can do now to ensure our readiness:
- Update your N-95 respirator fit testing and wear an N-95 respirator if you are at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Use additional precautions like droplet, contact and airborne precautions, including gloves, gowns and face shields.
- You have the right to refuse to work in unsafe situations.
- If you do not have the required personal protective equipment or have any other concerns, stop what you’re doing and speak with your manager or supervisor, document the situation and contact SUN and your OH&S representative.
We know that our health system is already running at capacity, so we need to start preparing now to ensure we are ready to care for patients when COVID-19 knocks on our door. Because it will.
Saskatchewan and Canada still have time to slow the spread of COVID-19 if we act swiftly and decisively now.
SUN has created a special section on our website dedicated solely to COVID-19. Please check in regularly for updates.
Tracy Zambory, RN