Newswise — Park Ridge, Ill. (AANA)—As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain the physical and emotional well-being of front-line healthcare workers, many are also facing a financial burden and strain on their personal lives. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) urged Congress to compensate front-line healthcare workers in a manner that reflects the serious harm they are experiencing.
In an April 14 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, AANA President Kate Jansky, MHS, CRNA, APRN, USA LTC (ret), and AANA CEO Randall D. Moore, DNP, MBA, CRNA, stated that during the pandemic healthcare workers, including Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), continue to do one thing that is not unprecedented—run toward danger to take care of patients.
As advanced practice nurses, CRNAs have vast experience in critical care settings and advanced education and training in anesthesiology. CRNAs provide care across all settings and in all patient populations and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural and underserved areas and on the battlefield in forward surgical teams.
“CRNAs and other front-line healthcare workers are putting their own – and often their families’ – health and safety in jeopardy,” stated Jansky and Moore. “Though they did not sign up for these conditions, they are not deterred. And for that, they deserve to be compensated in a manner that reflects the serious risk and strain they are under. The AANA strongly supports fair and equitable hazard pay that is available to all healthcare providers retroactive to the beginning of the crisis.”
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, CRNAs have continued to provide top-of-the-line anesthesia care, but they have also seen their roles change drastically. CRNA expertise in airway management, hemodynamic monitoring, management of patients on ventilators, placement of invasive lines, and overall management of critically ill patients uniquely positions them to provide life-saving care to those suffering from the novel coronavirus. In fact, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently recognized the valuable role CRNAs are playing in the treatment of COVID-19 by granting long-overdue full practice authority during this pandemic.
In many cases, CRNAs are working without appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), meaning that CRNAs and other healthcare workers are forced to reuse masks or even devise their own PPE in hopes of protecting themselves and others.
“In many cases, front-line providers are also facing financial burden and strain on their personal lives, opting to stay in hotels to avoid exposing their families – and even going weeks or months without seeing their loved ones,” stated Jansky and Moore. “While the CARES Act, signed into law last month, provided valuable support to small businesses and providers during the crisis, CRNAs now call on Congress to go further by incentivizing and properly compensating the front-line healthcare workers who continue to put their lives on the line.”
The treatment of COVID-19 relies on the entirety of the healthcare workforce: from those providing cleaning services, to those providing care inside and outside of ICUs, to those intubating patients, and to those comforting patients as they take their dying breath. Unfortunately, this also means healthcare workers are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. As more and more providers become ill and are unable to work, Congress must ensure providers are incentivized to remain on the front lines or volunteer to step up to the plate by granting equitable incentive and retention payments to front-line providers.
About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., and Washington, D.C., the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is the professional organization representing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists across the United States. For more information, visit www.aana.com and www.future-of-anesthesia-care-today.com.