U.S. Surgeon General Issues Report on Dangers of Health Misinformation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In today’s digital age of news, the public often struggles to decipher real science from misleading or incorrect information—and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has only magnified the situation. Seeing a detrimental impact to the health of the nation, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, issued his first advisory report of the Biden administration on the topic of misinformation in public health.
We Don’t Have a Crystal Ball, but ONS Is Prepared for Nursing’s Future
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was a wake-up call for preparedness: it caught society unaware and highlighted gaps in virtually every modern-day system. With those lessons learned, when the United States started removing pandemic-related public health restrictions and we began a return to “normal,” experts from all corners of society started looking to what the future will bring.
ONS Response to Mandated COVID-19 Vaccinations for Nurses and All Healthcare Professionals
On July 26, 2021, the American Nurses Association (ANA) signed onto a statement released by a large group of healthcare systems and other associations in support of healthcare employers mandating nurses and all healthcare personnel be vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus. This is in response to increasing circulation of COVID-19 variants and lagging vaccination rates. Although ONS was not listed on the statement as a supporting organization because of a late request, ONS agrees that vaccinations are critical for healthcare providers, particularly those caring for immunocompromised patients.
HHS Launches Network of Leaders and Organizations to Encourage COVID-19 Vaccinations
As of July 2021, more than 159 million individuals in the United States have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus, totaling about 48.1% of the U.S. population. However, approximately 173 million others have not, or suggested they will not, receive the vaccination. President Biden’s goal of having 70% of Americans receive at least one vaccine dose and 160 million adults to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4, 2021, fell short.
Senate HELP Committee Reviews Federal Agencies’ COVID-19 Response
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “committed to continuing to advance the science around COVID-19, moving more vaccines into more communities—especially those communities most at risk for COVID-19 infection—and working to improve health equity,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said during a March 2021 U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearing. She joined Anthony Fauci, MD, David Kessler, MD, and Peter Marks, MD, PhD, in sharing witness testimonies about their agencies’ response to the pandemic and how to better prepare for future threats.
CMS Extends Enrollment Period Access for Marketplace Coverage
Those without healthcare coverage can now purchase annual policies through state exchanges until August 15, 2021, under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS’s) extended Special Enrollment Period (SEP), ensuring continued access to affordable coverage for Americans during a time of healthcare uncertainty.
As Usage Increases, U.S. Senators Reintroduce Telehealth Access Bill
In a bipartisan effort that recognizes patients' concerns about telehealth’s accessibility, the U.S. Senate promoted legislation to reduce barriers to care. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), along with 50 colleagues, introduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. The bill would “expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors.”
National Library of Medicine Director Recognizes the Role of the Nurse During National Nursing Week
Nursing is a calling, but sometimes the profession takes nurses into careers that are an opportunity to serve others without direct patient care. In a recent blog post, Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, director of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Library of Medicine looked back at the roles she’s held. Brennan considered herself a “mother-daughter-sister-aunt-friend, and an advocate for self-care management education and support for all people.” But on top of it all, she is a nurse.
OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Healthcare Workers From COVID-19
“Frontline healthcare workers have a nearly 12-times higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 compared with individuals in the general community,” according to the results of a 2020 study. Although U.S. vaccination rates continue to increase and infection rates continue to decrease, national government entities such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are releasing new guidelines to help protect those who are putting themselves at risk for transmission so they can care for others.
Challenging Times Require Bold Policy Actions
On April 28, 2021, in his first congressional address to the U.S. Congress, President Joe Biden proposed another major piece of legislation to put the country back on a path to enhance public health and promote economic growth. It was the latest in a series of bills from the new administration that have implications for oncology nurses and patients with cancer.
When Grief Goes Beyond Burnout, Organizations Must Intervene
“The Grief Crisis Is Coming.” So warned the headline of a New York Times editorial in which the author described the toll of losses from the pandemic on the individual level. She said that for each person who dies from COVID-19, nine loved ones have been left behind to grieve, according to the COVID-19 Bereavement Multiplier introduced by a professor at Pennsylvania State University. That number is conservative and does not consider the healthcare team that cared for those patients.
U.S. Rep. Underwood Pushes for Increased Access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
In May 2021, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, RN (D-IL), introduced the Primary and Behavioral Health Care Access Act that, if passed, would require private health insurance plans to cover three primary care visits and three behavioral health or substance abuse disorder visits per year without cost sharing. Underwood’s goal was to promote legislation that would make health care more accessible and affordable.
The Future of Nursing Charts a Path to Achieve Health Equity
Society in 2021 has been challenged by an economic crisis and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Today, nurses must have an arsenal of tools and knowledge—and the ability to adapt in unpredictable circumstances—to assist patients seeking health care.
Multimethod Approach Supports Providers’ Mental Health During COVID-19
Providing variety of methods and approaches allows healthcare workers to choose the best options for them to mitigate and treat psychological distress from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, researchers said in a preliminary report published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
Survey Results Support Predicted Effects of Pandemic Screening Drop
Clinicians are already seeing an increase in late-stage cancer diagnoses that they attribute to the pandemic-driven pause in cancer screening and treatment adherence, according to the results of a survey from the American Society for Radiation Oncology.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Fast-Tracked Our Growth as Nurses
For the past 15 months, healthcare providers across the country risked their lives to care for those who needed us most. After spending more than a year at the forefront of a global health crisis, many of us, naturally, harbor feelings of stress and anxiety. Now that the world is returning to something resembling normal, we can pause, reflect, and observe how much we’ve all grown throughout this experience.
Vivek Murthy Confirmed as U.S. Surgeon General, Again
Known as the nation’s doctor, the U.S. surgeon general provides scientific information and oversees the U.S. Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps: more than 6,000 professionals who promote health across the United States. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, who served as surgeon general under President Barack Obama, once again assumed his post as the nation’s doctor in March 2021 and said he will prioritize addressing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and opioid epidemic during his second tenure. Murthy was appointed during his transition as the chair of the COVID-19 advisory board.
Share These Resources to Increase COVID-19 Vaccination Rates
President Joe Biden committed to getting at least 70% of U.S. adults their first dose of the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine and achieve 160 million fully vaccinated American adults by July 4, 2021. However, one in five Americans reported that they aren’t planning to get vaccinated. To dispel public fear and increase understanding, several U.S. health agencies provided multiple resources to educate patients and providers on vaccine distribution and efficacy.
ONS Collaborates With Four Organizations to Develop Grief Resources
To address complex trauma resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, ONS collaborated with four leading organizations to develop and offer free innovative and educational resources about grief for frontline providers. Joining ONS in the endeavor are the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF), Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN), and Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). The project, Dealing With GRIEF: A Series of 5 Short, Powerful Videos, was made possible by a grant from the American Nurses Foundation.
What We Learned When Adjusting Protocols to Conduct Remote Oncology Research
When the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic pushed oncology research to a remote, virtual format, the sudden adjustment was, in many ways, more convenient and more effective, but it also posed several challenges. During a presentation on April 27, 2021, for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™, two nurse researchers shared the lessons they learned when they adjusted their research protocols.
As Oncology Research Pivots in Pandemic, Here’s How to Maintain Consent and Ethics
As health care has made countless adaptations to forge on during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, oncology nurse researchers haven’t escaped the effects. During a session on April 27, 2021, for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™, Kathleen Calzone, PhD, RN, AGN-BC, FAAN, and Donna Berry, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, outlined specific ways researchers have pivoted with virtual approaches to continue their important work.
The Key to Managing Moral Distress During a Pandemic? Resiliency
Oncology nursing has always been a challenging career with many stressors, but the moral distress brought on by a global pandemic has increased rates of depression, anxiety, and professional burnout among nurses, Patricia Jakel, RN, MSN, AOCN®, and Devin Ballentine, RN, BSN, both of UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, said during a session for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™ on April 22, 2021.
WHO Campaigns for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Equity
More than 800 million COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. However, 54% of those have been in high-income countries, which contain only 19% of the world’s population, whereas lower-middle income countries have only 33% of the vaccines for their 81% of the population. Those disparities have serious implications and limit equal access to health care, including vaccinations. The World Health Organization (WHO) is campaigning to address vaccine inequity on a global scale.
Nurse Appointed as Acting U.S. Surgeon General
Three nurses serve in the U.S. Congress, and the profession briefly added one more federal representation at the agency level as well. President Joe Biden appointed Rear Admiral Susan Orsega, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, a nurse practitioner, as acting surgeon general while Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBH, who served as former president Barack Obama’s surgeon general, was waiting for Senate confirmation. The position is often referred to as the “nation’s doctor,” although Orsega was the third nurse to hold the title before Murthy assumed his current post.
Surveys Show PPE Is Still in Short Supply
A perhaps unexpected phenomenon the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic created around the world was countless supply shortages. Most at worst were inconvenient (e.g., yeast shortages from pandemic breadmaking) or humorous (e.g., toilet paper memes), but one that oncology nurses experienced far too close to home was downright deadly: lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for handling hazardous drugs.
Biden-Harris Administration Invests $10 Billion to Address Disparities in Vaccine Confidence and Distribution
The Biden-Harris administration to strengthen public perception of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines and ensure all Americans, including communities of color, those in rural areas, low-income populations, and other underserved communities in the pandemic response, receive their vaccinations.
NCCN Dr. Steven Pergam Educates Patients With Cancer on COVID-19
Steven Pergam, MD, MPH, associate professor of the vaccine and infectious disease division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, and infection prevention director at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, co-led a National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) committee that issued recommendations on COVID-19 vaccination for patients with cancer. He received his first Moderna dose on December 29, 2020, and has been dispelling fear and spreading education about the vaccine.
How Public Health Can Stop the Pandemic (Hint: It’s COVID-19 Vaccination)
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it. The mortality rate is devasting, the economic impact is jarring, and no one can pinpoint any date for its end. But new vaccines offer a glimmer of hope—but only if the country can settle discussions about achieving adequate vaccination coverage and strategies to distribute and inoculate hundreds of millions of people.
ANA Launches Nurse-Specific COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign
Nurses are a trusted resource for patient education and offer clarity during a crisis, whether it’s a cancer diagnosis or global pandemic. However, in a survey from the American Nurses Association (ANA), 30% of nurses said they have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, and a quarter of that percentage was still undecided about getting vaccinated. The two main reported reasons were fear of short- and long-term side effects (66%) and lack of information about the vaccines (50%). ANA’s new campaign educates nurses about those concerns.
U.S. Reps Introduce Bill to Support Frontline Workers and Families
More nurses are diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus than healthcare providers in any other discipline. Despite that sober statistic, very few congressional committees’ COVID-19 legislation proposals support essential workers like nurses. U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced a bill to address those concerns.
U.S. Rep. Underwood, RN, Highlights Health Priorities in Open Letter to Biden
After a contentious election season, U.S. Representative Lauren A. Underwood, RN, (D-IL) returned to Capitol Hill as a new subcommittee chair and the same drive to push forward on healthcare issues, most recently with an open letter to President Joe Biden.
CDC Campaign Fights Declining Cancer Screening Rates
Nearly 1.9 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021. However, overall cancer screenings dropped roughly 80% in 2020 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and statewide stay-at-home orders. To combat the decline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) new outreach campaign reminds patients and providers of the importance of cancer screening.
Nurses Help NIH Clinical Center Kick Off COVID-19 Vaccinations
Is anyone a better champion of the importance of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic than a nurse? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) doesn’t think so. During a late-December videocast at the NIH Clinical Center, prominent healthcare leaders, including nurses, received the Moderna vaccine to demonstrate that it is safe and effective and to encourage others to get inoculated.
COVID-19 Immunity Lasts Multiple Months, NIH Study Shows
Healthcare providers are one of the most at-risk populations for contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, a 2020 study of healthcare workers found that acquired immunity from an initial COVID-19 infection offers protection against reinfection for at least six months or asymptomatic infection in the rare instances where someone subsequently tested positive within six months of acquiring immunity.
Be Alert for Axillary Adenopathy After COVID-19 Vaccination
Nearly 60 million people in the United States and almost 200 million around the world have received the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as of mid-February 2021, and the numbers will continue to grow as more doses come to market and other manufacturers’ versions receive emergency use authorizations. As more people get vaccinated, some of the expected side effects are being observed in clinical practice and have implications for cancer care.
COVID-19 Affects Cancer Caregivers, but Here Are Ways to Support Them
Cancer caregivers are silent and sometimes forgotten victims of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Its impact on patients with cancer and healthcare providers is widely discussed, but it also affects caregiver responsibilities and burden.
COVID-19’s Implications for People With Cancer and Oncology Nurses
Since the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus—the greatest global public health emergency in a century—has disrupted or delayed many aspects of life, including cancer care. But it’s also opened new opportunities for nursing innovation and brought much-needed change to health care. Here’s where we are one year later.
Nurses Exemplify Pandemic Response and Preparedness Report
A nurse was the first U.S. citizen to receive the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine. Biden also recently appointed a nurse to the COVID-19 advisory board. Clearly the country recognizes nurses’ consistent power and trustworthiness, and nurses can use that power to educate the public about the Biden administration’s tactics to get vaccines to the rest of the country and control the spread.
How to Manage Survivor Guilt During a Pandemic
Pandemics have a tremendous impact on societies and individuals alike. From incidence rates to death tolls, financial hardship to job loss, and anxiety to isolation, we’ve all been affected in one way or another—although some much more than others.
Lawmakers Push for Permanent Telehealth Services
In a rare moment of bicameral success, 49 U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members introduced legislation to make permanent the Medicare telehealth coverage that had been introduced as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
How Can Oncology Nurses Reduce Isolation for Caregivers?
Social connection with others is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to well-being and survival. A growing body of literature is evaluating cancer caregivers’ needs, yet strategies to address loneliness, which has broadly detrimental effects on caregivers, are still in their infancy. Therefore, my goal is to identify better support strategies for caregivers as they support their loved ones with cancer.
Pandemics Have Serious Psychological Implications for Nurses
Watching patients—or even colleagues—suffer or die, not being able to protect yourself with the right personal protective equipment, worry about exposing loved ones, and the challenge of balancing it all contribute to an immeasurable psychological burden for nurses and other healthcare professionals during a pandemic. Studies show that the effects are serious, leading to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and, in some cases, suicide among providers.
President Biden Rejoins WHO in Support of Pandemic Efforts and Cancer Prevention
One of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders was rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO). He also signed executive orders to require masks on all federal grounds and asked agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and federal student loan payments, but the WHO executive order has particular implications for cancer care.
CDC Offers Infection Prevention Guidelines for Patients With Cancer During COVID-19
Immunocompromised patients with cancer are three times more likely to die from complications of the COVID-19 coronavirus. New resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide ideas for preventing infections like COVID-19 in patients with cancer.
Biden Appoints Nurse to COVID-19 Advisory Board
Shortly after declaring victory in the 2020 president election, the Biden-Harris transition team created a bipartisan COVID-19 advisory board. Staffed by experts, the board was hailed as a science-driven committee eager to flatten the curve. However, it had one downfall: it lacked a nurse. In response to a viral petition for nurse representation, the transition team appointed Seattle, WA, nurse Jane Hopkins, RNMH, to the advisory board on November 28, 2020.
How COVID-19 May Increase Access to and Reduce Disparities in Cancer Clinical Trials
To improve clinical trial availability, effectiveness, and diversity in the era of the COVID-19 coronavirus, National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded clinical trials should adjust their design to increase use of telemedicine and remote informed consent, among other strategies, several NCI department leaders wrote in a commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Superhero Nurses Shine in Marvel Comic Book
Wonder Woman, Superman, the Flash! Characters like those have superpowers and save people, but they are limited by fiction. Nurses are real people doing superhuman achievements every day, often with little recognition. To pay homage to the most trusted profession, Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, PA, partnered with Marvel to produce a comic book worthy of real heroes. The Vitals: True Nurse Stories (2020), includes three stories based on personal accounts from the children of nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
NIH Announces COVID-19 Initiative to Connect With High-Risk Patient Populations
The assault on science, medicine, and research has never been stronger, flooding social media and communities with misinformation about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s new research initiative, the Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities, provides community education in the areas hit hardest by the virus.
COVID-19 Reference Sheet: Vaccines
To control the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, society needs public health measures (e.g., masks, physical distancing, hand washing), treatments for infection, and vaccines to prevent infection or serious disease. As the most trusted profession, nurses have a responsibility to educate patients and the community about the facts and science behind the vaccines. This reference sheet will help guide those conversations and is regularly updated as new information is released.