Dear NPWH Members,
On behalf of the NPWH Board of Directors and Staff, we want to express our sincerest compassion, appreciation, and support to all of our members during this challenging time. As a professional organization serving nurse practitioners, we are honored to represent our members on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for women and their families, and we earnestly thank you. It is the heroic work of nurse practitioners and healthcare workers around the globe that will see us through this storm together.
“Normal” looks very different for most people right now. And that’s true for NPWH as well. While we were able to gather for our annual Board of Directors meeting in Washington, DC just one month before shutdowns started, currently the NPWH home office has moved completely to remote work. We may be working differently, but it does not mean our NPWH work stops. We continue to hold virtual meetings that include the education, policy, research and membership committees, our student chapter, the Academic Program Leaders group, and national annual conference planning committee. Now more than ever, we continue to celebrate and honor the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife!
NPWH continues to advocate for women’s health professionals and for the patients in your care during this unprecedented time. On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, NPWH was invited to participate in a meeting at the White House with President Trump and Vice President Pence, joining 12 of our sister nursing organizations in providing information about member experiences and concerns related to COVID-19. We let the White House know that The National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health is eager to work with the Administration, Congress, state and local policymakers and the health care community to focus carefully on how to best provide front-line care for women and high-risk populations during this unprecedented crisis.
On March 20, we sent a survey to you, our members, to find out some of the ways your practice is being affected by COVID-19. We appreciated hearing from so many of you. Based on the results, several concerns emerged as clear priorities. The following is a summary of our key points:
- Discrepancies in test availability and disparities in access continue to be a concern. As more test kits become available and are distributed, it is vital that access to care be made affordable and fair.
- With limited supplies of essential items such as masks, gloves, and thermometer probe covers, we are concerned about the impact this pandemic will have on health care providers’ ability to adhere to CDC recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19, and to provide the kind of routine and preventative care that keeps women healthy.
- Pregnant women and older women with significant health concerns are particularly affected by limitations or closures of clinical sites as the crisis grows because they are forced to go to more distant and overloaded women’s health clinics in order to obtain critical health care.
- The downstream effects of measures essential to limiting disease spread, such as limits on support persons and using public transportation may limit access to important prenatal and other medical, behavioral health and substance use disorder services. Support for providers to implement innovative approaches to such issues, such as accelerated utilization of telehealth and other technology is important.
Last week, NPWH members who participate in the Academic Program Leaders (APL) group, were sent a survey to determine the needs and concerns of our valued faculty members who lead nursing specialty courses and programs in women’s health. This will remain an open dialogue link for APL members as we move through this crisis. The consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a prolonged interruption in aspects of Nurse Practitioner education that significantly impacts faculty and students alike. We recognized this issue and swiftly moved to develop and support the Statement Regarding Nurse Practitioner Student and Direct Care Clinical Hours. We are proud to be part of the collaboration of 16 national nursing organizations to make accommodations in NP education during a national crisis.
It is important that NPWH continue to meet the needs of our members. Cultivating connectivity during an increasing shutdown of life as we know it is an essential human need that promotes our individual, family and organizational health.
The news is being updated rapidly, as are the healthcare resource sites. We wanted to share a few suggestions specific to the population we serve as women’s health nurse practitioners.
- ACOG Practice Advisory: COVID19 – Includes algorithm to aid practitioners in assessing and managing pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- ACOG FAQ and Daily Updates
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – up to date resources by the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine
- COVID-19: What You Need to Know About its Impact on Moms and Babies – Resources from March of Dimes
- Crisis Standard of Care – COVID-19 Pandemic – American Nurses Association
- Coronavirus: A look at Gender Differences in Awareness and Actions
- Novel Coronavirus COVID-19: Special Considerations for Pregnant Women (March 17, 2020) by Kaiser Family Foundation
- COVID-19 Update – Information for Clinicians Caring for Children and Pregnant Women Webinar (March 12, 2020) by CDC
- Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of COVID-19 in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Setting (Feb 18, 2020) by CDC
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty – Article on taking care of yourself by Dr. Doreen Marshall
- Our deep and sincere appreciation for each of you. Please stay well, be safe and stay connected.
Diana Drake, Chair, NPWH Board of Directors
Gay Johnson, CEO, NPWH