Oncology nurses were represented at a March 18, 2020, White House briefing with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other members of the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force. Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) chief executive officer, was invited to attend the meeting along with other nursing association leaders to discuss the health and safety of oncology nurses and the patients they care for during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Our members have expressed a major concern for the emotional vulnerability that patients with cancer are living with during this pandemic,” Nevidjon said. “The psychosocial aspects of having to postpone or delay follow-up visits and treatments have a direct adverse effect on the patient, families, and caregivers. Cancer doesn’t take a break during times of crisis, including pandemics.”

Nevidjon also addressed the critical need for safety supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. “Additionally, it is imperative oncology nurses have appropriate PPE to protect unaffected patients and clinical staff from exposure to infection and to safely administer hazardous drugs patients receive as a crucial component of their treatment plan,” she said.

The president and vice president thanked the nursing association leaders for attending the meeting and assured them they are dedicating resources to help nurses and other healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are absolutely committed to bringing the full resources of the federal government and the American economy to work with states across the country to be there for Americans struggling with coronavirus. But at the same level of priority, we are making sure that the men and women who are serving those patients, the nurses and nurse practitioners, the emergency room nurses, are in the forefront of the president’s mind,” said Vice President Pence. “I hope you will carry back the gratitude of your president and the entire Coronavirus Task Force for the work that all of your members are doing every single day. They are the hands and feet of American compassion, and every American is grateful to our nurses.”

ONS is dedicated to the health and safety of oncology nurses and the patients they care for. ONS members are on the frontlines and have an essential role in leading the delivery of care to a vulnerable population of more than 1.8 million patients with a new cancer diagnosis and 16 million cancer survivors.

ONS is a professional association of more than 35,000 members committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all in an effort to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Learn more at www.ons.org.