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Newswise – The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) has launched Hear Us Out, a national effort to report the reality of nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and to urge those who have not yet been vaccinated to reconsider their decision. In response to the soaring delta variant, a dramatic increase in the number of deaths of young Americans, and the first full approval by the Food and Drug Administration of a COVID-19 vaccine, the AACN is advocating on behalf of the acute and critical care nursing community as a profession and health systems are being pushed to a breaking point.
âWe don’t want to scare the public, but we are obligated to paint an accurate picture of life and death with COVID-19 in an intensive care unit,â said Beth Wathen, president of the AACN. âCOVID kills, and death is difficult, tragic and lonely. By engaging in honest dialogue, we hope to help Americans understand the consequences of what is now a preventable disease. “
Hear Us Out mobilizes nurses’ voices and describes the dangers of COVID-19 outbreaks for the community as a whole. The campaign will include videos of nurses sharing their experiences caring for patients with COVID-19 and materials that will guide those who have been vaccinated to engage in meaningful conversations with family and friends who have not yet been vaccinated. .
Media reports show that in areas with low vaccination rates, health systems may not be able to provide care for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as well as those with cancer, heart attacks , strokes and other health emergencies. This challenge will only get worse until more people are vaccinated against COVID-19.
As the situation worsens, nurses are leaving the hospital setting or the profession in record numbers. The sustained and extreme demands of the care of unvaccinated hospitalized patients are taking their toll. A recent AACN survey of over 6,000 acute and critical care nurses quantified the impact of the past 18 months on the profession:
- 92% of nurses surveyed said they believed the pandemic had exhausted nurses in their hospitals and as a result their careers would be shorter than expected
- 66% believe their experiences during the pandemic caused them to consider leaving nursing
- 76% say people who have not yet been vaccinated threaten the physical and mental well-being of nurses
- 67% believe caring for COVID-19 patients puts their own family’s health at risk
âNurses leaving the profession will bring our health care system to its knees,â said Amanda Bettencourt, AACN President-Elect. âYou or your mother, brother, child or a dear friend can suffer on your own without a nurse next to them providing care. It’s the last thing we want to happen. It is preventable, and it is the public who can help relieve our overwhelmed bedside nurses. “
If this trend continues, the future of health care is threatened. The nursing shortage in the United States will intensify, having been a problem long before the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast nearly 200,000 nurse openings each year through 2029, including retirements and work discharges. Now, survey data indicates that more nurses than expected are likely to leave the profession due to their pandemic experience. Insufficient staff will cause additional challenges in the years to come, increasing the risk of increased mortality and complications in hospitalized patients.
Visit HearUsOut.com for more information on the AACN survey results and how to become an ally to protect both the public and our nurses.
Association of Critical Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to excellence in acute and critical care nursing. The vision of the organization is to create a healthcare system focused on the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. The AACN is the largest specialized nursing organization in the world, with over 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.
American Association of Critical Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000; www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme