Oncology nurses must advocate for prevention and control of the COVID-19 coronavirus to minimize the risk to themselves and the patients with cancer in their care, the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC) announced in its April 2, 2020, COVID-19 Position Statement. ONS is a full member of ISNCC.

As frontline care providers, nurses are at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19 because of the close contact they have with patients and the public in their day-to-day work, ISNCC wrote. Additionally, patients with cancer are at increased risk for poor outcomes from COVID-19 infection, including severe pneumonia, respiratory failure, and septic shock. Factors identified to increase risk are advanced age, underlying medical conditions, and immunocompromised status.

In their role of providing health services for people affected by cancer and in community and public education infection control efforts, oncology nurses are well-positioned to advocate for increased support for that work, ISNCC wrote. Additional support is also needed for physical and psychological care of patients with cancer at risk for or diagnosed with COVID-19.

Some of the strategies ISNCC recommended are:

  • Allocating appropriate resources to increase the nursing workforce
  • Involving nurses in development of COVID-19 policies and programs
  • Ensuring nurse have access to proper and safe personal protective equipment when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections
  • Providing psychological health support for nurses during and after the pandemic

The position statement also includes recommended actions for both nurses and patients to slow and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 infection.