By: Cross Country Nurses
Posted: Aug 13, 2020
Categories: CCN Travel Tips
Travel nurses are used to having more available opportunities during flu season, as most hospitals face a rise in patient census during this time. This year, however, hospitals will be facing a new challenge that will only exacerbate their nursing shortages: COVID-19. With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to rise nationwide, there are several variables that hospitals need to be prepared for, including the possibility that patients could be infected with both viruses simultaneously and be hospitalized more than once if they contract both viruses separately. Both scenarios have the potential to increase nurse demand this flu season. Hospitals are moving quickly to address these possibilities by securing the additional nursing staff they expect to require now.
Scientists and healthcare professionals are learning more about COVID-19 and how it affects patients by the day. As more information is gained, treatments for COVID-19 patients have improved and hospitalizations appear to have decreased and often been of shorter duration. That said, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned that flu viruses and COVID-19 are likely to be circulating at the same time this fall and winter. While no one can predict exactly how many people will be infected by any of these viruses, the logical conclusion based on this fact is that hospitalizations will increase this flu season compared to last, which according to the CDC, included tens of millions of cases and tens of thousands of deaths.
Travel restrictions, social distancing and the wearing of masks have all been shown to stop the spread of COVID-19 in numerous countries worldwide as well as communities here in the United States. According to some reports, countries in the Southern Hemisphere, who are already in the height of their flu season, are experiencing a lower number of flu cases compared to last year. Local health officials there point to widespread adoption of COVID-19 restrictions as the reason. While this might give health officials here hope if people largely continue to embrace the restrictions, there is an important variable to consider in the change of weather that occurs during our flu season. Colder temperatures will likely lead to more people crowding together in indoor spaces without masks. Additionally, the symptoms of common winter colds, including coughing and sneezing, are likely to spread COVID-19 virus particles from infected persons, whether or not they know they are infected.
With so many unknown variables this flu season, and with all they have learned about the resources necessary to treat COVID-19 patients, many hospitals are being proactive in seeking out the additional healthcare staff they expect to need in the coming months. Nurses, especially those with ICU, Med/Surg, Tele and ED specialties, are currently in highest demand and already being sought to fill anticipated openings. This is why we suggest travel nurses start searching for the assignments they want most now, before those openings are filled. The sooner you act to lock down an assignment, the more likely it will be in the city and clinical setting that most appeals to you.
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