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Rethinking staffing, blankets, hospital wards, and more

Covid-19   Patient Safety   Management & Treatment   Sleep   Staffing Grids   Workplace Safety

Today’s Read: 3.5 minutes

Vermont staffs up, weighted blankets may help you sleep, Covid-19 free wards may keep patients safer, and the small number of governments that consider Covid-19 an occupational illness. Plus, a new (but old) earworm.


Vermont hospitals look to lessen reliance on travel nurses

The demand for travel nurses has increased in both demand and price during the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to limit the use of travel nurses and control costs, Vermont hospitals are getting creative about how they fill the nursing positions that they have open, VTDigger reports.

The aim isn’t just to get nurses in the door but to retain them since the true cost of a travel nurse isn’t just salary but also the cost of training, onboarding, and turnover. In that effort, some hospitals have increased pay and benefits as part of their negotiations with the nurses’ union. Some have hired more staff so nurses don’t feel overburdened. They have also partnered with nursing schools to recruit recent grads and help them transition into hospital jobs. 

While Vermont hospitals haven’t completely weaned themselves off of traveling nurses, their demand is less than it has been in the past. More importantly, this effort to hire and keep staff helps nurses feel supported and not succumb to burnout. 

Have you worked as a travel nurse? Do you think that there will always be a need for travel nurses? How do you think Covid-19 has changed the career path for travel nurses?

Can a weighted blanket help you sleep better?

We love our weighted blanket. It helps the insomniacs in our house sleep. Now a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine proves that it isn’t just a placebo effect. 

Swedish researchers separated 121 patients with depression, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric diagnoses, who had sleep problems into two groups. One group slept with an 18-pound weighted blanket and the other slept with an identical-looking three-pound blanket. Participants wore activity sensors on their wrists to measure sleep time, awakenings, and daytime activity and answered a 28-point questionnaire called the Insomnia Severity Index.

The New York Times reports that more than 42 percent of the heavy-blanket sleepers scored low enough on the Insomnia Severity Index to be considered in remission from their sleep problems, compared to only 3.6 percent of the controls. The heavy-blanket sleepers also reported fewer awakenings after sleep onset, less daytime sleepiness, and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety overall. This preliminary study adds to a growing amount of research that weighted blankets could help those that have trouble sleeping. If you would like to give it a try, look for a blanket that is no more than 10% of your body weight (otherwise you may feel pinned down).

Covid-19 free hospital areas could save lives

When faced with a coronavirus cluster at a hospital like the one at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the idea of Covid-19 free wards seems like a good precaution. Now, an international study may provide some data to support it.

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined data from 9,171 patients in 55 countries from the start of the pandemic until mid-April 2020. When comparing surgical treatments in Covid-19 free areas versus standard care, researchers have discovered that pulmonary complications (2.2% vs 4.9%, respectively) and rates of death after surgery (0.7% vs 1.7%) were lower for patients in the Covid-19 free areas. However, in this study, just 27% of patients had their care in these protected areas.

Covid-19 free areas were defined as complete segregation of the operating theater, critical care, and inpatient ward areas.

Not all facilities will be able to provide separate Covid-19 wards because of space and expense. However, does your workplace have some version of this? If so, how difficult was it to set up?



The percentage of National Nurses Associations that report that Covid-19 is recognized as an occupational disease for healthcare workers. According to a new report by the International Council of Nurses, which represents 20 million nurses globally, access to entitlements and compensations due to Covid-19 is highly linked to whether the virus is classified as an occupational disease by the government. As of this printing, it isn’t clear if the United States does.


A newly unearthed recording of Ella Fitzgerald in Berlin in 1962 has been released. Get your new earworm here.

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