In This Together

By Jesse V. McClain IV, DNP, APRN-CNS, OAAPN Immediate Past President

To say the past few months have been a bizarre and demanding time in healthcare may be an understatement and OAAPN appreciates all of our fellow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) for your hard work and tireless spirit in the face of COVID-19. 

 

Typically, we mail out our annual newsletter to all Ohio APRNs in early spring.  This year, the OAAPN Board of Directors decided to do things a bit differently and go virtual.   We spent months designing the layout and writing articles to keep everyone as informed as possible. The lead story, regarding House Bill 177, was all ready to go. Included in that article was a very positive report on the support gained as a result of OAAPN’s efforts towards the removal of the Standard Care Arrangement (SCA). We planned to outline our next steps as well as provide information on how all of Ohio’s APRNs could help. 

 

Just as we were about to finalize this year’s newsletter, Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit Ohio and our worlds were turned upside down. Everyone was scrambling, legislators canceled hearings, APRNs were shifted into different areas of practice and honestly, an article about HB 177 no longer seemed the appropriate way to kick off our Spring Newsletter.

 

Despite all the upheaval, the OAAPN Board of Directors, Lobbying, and Legal teams have continued to advocate for APRNs and their patients. However, during a pandemic, this has not been an easy task as members of the OAAPN Board of Directors have been professionally and personally affected alongside all of our APRN colleagues around the state.

 

Unfortunately, we know many of you, along with us, have lost patients, family members, and even colleagues fighting this beast known as COVID-19.  Some of us have seen our outpatient practices closed and have been shifted to inpatient settings to join the frontline fight. Many days have closed with no clue given as to which unit or facility we would need to cover the next day. Daily operations are often completely up in the air. (pun intended) 

 

Many APRNs have had to cut down their practices and take substantial pay cuts to ensure they could financially stay afloat and avoid staff layoffs. Those who educate future APRNs have had to adapt to a new way of teaching. Distance learning is being utilized more than ever and we soon will stand alongside some of these well trained APRNs. 

One of our Board members is the medical director of a hospital system. He has been tasked with surge planning and emergency preparedness to ensure their rural hospital can handle whatever influx they may see.  Others have had to step out of their comfort zone and begin delivering care via telemedicine, whether it be video visits or telephone encounters.  We are all trying to learn and adapt to the new times. 

 

Who would have thought that 2020 would find healthcare providers burdened with so many worries? Worries that include the stressors of constant professional change, financial concerns, the fear of falling victim to this virus and so much more.   We know that despite what Ohio’s APRNs have been faced with we all remain committed to providing high-quality care as it is the nature of APRNs to care for others despite all obstacles.  

 

As the OAAPN Board of Directors, we will continue to fight COVID-19 by day and advocate for Ohio APRNs by night. Throughout this state of emergency, we have provided timely education on new telehealth and reimbursement rules as well as many healthcare resources on the OAAPN COVID-19 Resource Page. We have shared daily press briefing summaries from Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton on the OAAPN Facebook page. Due to hard work and dedication from all APRNs, we now find ourselves writing for homecare and hopefully soon will be without the burden of an SCA. We will continue to address the issues regarding Ohio’s DNR signature forms and a multitude of other signature authority challenges. 

 

These issues, unfortunately, do not get fixed overnight, but rather take constant attention and patience. We do not take our task as the OAAPN Board of Directors lightly and we are committed to furthering the practice of APRNs in Ohio. We are fighting for you and your patients each and every day. 

 

Over these last few months, healthcare and healthcare providers have been at the forefront of our great country and especially the great state of Ohio. We are so proud of the work Ohio APRNs do and are honored to represent you. Your leadership, quality of care, and adaptability will help us win this fight. You are heroes. You deserve to be recognized as part of the amazing team that will right this ship and help Ohio win this battle. Thank you all for what you are doing. We are truly IN THIS TOGETHER OHIO.