Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Nurses are an important brain trust

Covid-19   Diagnostics   Policy   Wellness

Today’s Read: 3 minutes

An editorial touts nurses as the missing link in public health policy, past pandemics give us insight into mental health woes, the rapid test may be as effective as PCR, plus CVS Health is hiring thousands of healthcare workers.


What we can learn from past pandemics about HCP mental health

By looking at past pandemics, we can figure out the present. This is exactly what University of East Anglia researchers hoped to show as they looked at 19 studies which included data predominantly from the SARS outbreak in Asia and Canada. They uncovered that 23.4% of healthcare workers experienced PTSD symptoms during the most intense acute phase of that previous pandemic outbreak. After a year, 11.9% of healthcare workers still experienced PTSD symptoms.

In addition, more than a third of health workers, 34.1%, experienced higher levels of mental distress and experienced symptoms such as anxiety or depression during the most severe phase of the pandemic. After six months, mental distress symptoms affected 17.9% of health workers but then increased again to 29.3% at the one-year mark and beyond.

Ultimately, the researchers hope that their work will provide insight into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare providers, who continue to face considerable pressure over a sustained period.

Covid-19 rapid test may be as effective as PCR

A study conducted in San Francisco found that Abbott’s $5 BinaxNOW rapid test may detect coronavirus nearly as effectively as the more complex and time-consuming PCR test. The study was small and its data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published, but researchers found that the rapid test—which gives results in just 15 minutes—detected 15 of the 16 people who had high viral loads and were most likely to spread coronavirus.

The tests are intended primarily to detect the presence of high levels of the virus, rather than its absence, and are authorized only to evaluate symptomatic people. It cannot conclusively determine whether someone is infected with Covid-19 or has been previously.

At the moment, anyone who has been exposed to the virus should be tested by PCR, Joseph DeRisi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF and a co-leader of the project told The New York Times.

These results are hopeful considering the Trump administration has already purchased 150 million BinaxNOW tests to be sent to schools, nursing homes, and meatpacking plants.

Editorial touts nurses as an important brain trust

Nurses need to be at the table in the fight against Covid-19 since many of the current interventions were developed and delivered largely by nurses, says a recent editorial in The Lancet.

“In the year honouring nurses, it deserves mention that this profession has been responsible for some of the most important contributions to public health and the science of patient care,” the authors write. “The wealth of ideas flowing from nurses should come as no surprise, given that nurses spend the most time with patients and families as they navigate health, sickness, crisis, and bureaucracy in our healthcare systems.”

The authors go on to say that nurses are uniquely qualified to advance any agenda that addresses our collective health. And, without nurses helping shape public health policies we “are destined to fail, particularly when issues of equity and access are involved.” Give it a read here.



The number of healthcare workers CVS Health is recruiting as part of its pandemic response. While most of these open positions are for pharmacy technicians to administer Covid-19 vaccinations, the company is also filling one-site roles for nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.


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