American Nurses Foundation

“For as long as I’ve been in nursing, there have always been obstacles, but I haven’t let them stop me.”

More than a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began, nurses are still on the frontlines as new variants cause surges around the world. This has taken a toll on nurses and other health care professionals, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, burnout, exhaustion, family separation and, in some cases, loss of life. At the 74th World Health Assembly, held virtually at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Director-General Dr. Tedros announced that at least 115,000 health care workers worldwide have died from COVID-19.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) launched the COVID-19 Response Fund in March 2020 to support containment, response and recovery activities for those most affected by the pandemic and for the responders.

The American Nurses Foundation (ANF) received a grant from the Fund to support direct financial assistance, education and care for nurses working on the frontlines. ANF worked with the American Nurses Association (ANA) to provide COVID-19 educational resources to an estimated 405,000 nurses. They gathered information directly from nurses through their survey series, “Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses,” and rapidly developed a robust suite of educational materials designed to be easily accessed and immediately applied.

With support from CDP funding, they also extended a webinar series, previously focused on ventilators, ethics, racial disparities, progression, personal protective equipment (PPE) and mental health, to include vaccines, ambulatory advanced practice registered nurses on the frontlines, an updated PPE webinar and an additional mental health webinar, specifically focused on self-care.

During the series, the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities was highlighted. In the second part of their vaccine webinar, ANF and ANA specifically focused on supporting BIPOC nurses and patients, highlighting the leading indicators affecting COVID-19 rates in racial and ethnic minority communities, and boosting vaccine confidence in minority populations, especially Black nurses and patients.

When ANF and ANA received a request from nurses for content they could access in short windows of time during busy shifts or on breaks, short-form content was created. This included 11 five-to-15-minute educational videos, which were much easier for nurses to use. It also included a 10-part podcast series, “A Nursing State of Mind,” launched in partnership with the Association of Perioperative Nurses. The podcast, with episodes approximately 10 minutes or less, focused on the work and personal wellbeing of nurses.

Nicole Musto, R.N., an oncology nurse, pictured above, used some of these resources to navigate the challenges of this unprecedented pandemic. She has experienced many obstacles throughout her nursing career, but she has not let them stop her, “As an oncology nurse, I haven’t met a patient who wasn’t scared. The COVID-19 pandemic heightened this anxiety. Not only did I have to ease patients’ fears [and] anxieties, and handle the complexities of my patients, I needed to figure out how to alter the already complex oncology care to account for COVID-19.”

Questions from patients and staff alike centered around the risks, side effects and lack of information. There were concerns about: survival rates, family care and finances; finding the support to navigate the challenges of having both cancer and COVID-19; and the possibility of passing the virus to others.

Nicole and her team received support and found answers using the resources created by ANF. CDP is proud to support frontline health care workers and the work of ANF. To all on the frontlines, we say thank you.

(Photo source: American Nurses Foundation)