DiversityNursing Blog

The Importance of Race and Ethnicity COVID Vaccine Data

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Apr 05, 2021 @ 10:59 AM

vaccine1For the last year, health experts have pleaded for better data to shed light on disproportionate rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths among communities of color.

Since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, health care organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA), American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) have been asking for more race and ethnicity vaccine data.

This important data is missing for half of coronavirus vaccine recipients. According to the CDC, the data from 52,614,231 people fully vaccinated, Race/Ethnicity was available for 28,234,374 (53.7%).

This data is imperative in ensuring an equitable response to a pandemic that continues to disproportionately affect these vulnerable populations.

“Race and ethnicity data provides critical information to clinicians, health care organizations, public health agencies and policymakers, allowing them to equitably allocate resources across all communities, evaluate health outcomes and improve quality of care and delivery of public health services,” says the open letter, sent by the AMA, APhA and the ANA.

Equitable distribution of vaccines is crucial. When states collect this information, it helps officials identify large racial gaps so they can find better ways to distribute shots.

North Carolina is leading the way in data collection. The state now has racial and ethnicity data for more than 98% of vaccine recipients.

To achieve this high rate of collection, a state-mandated software system was used which requires providers to record a person’s race and ethnicity in order to register them for a vaccination.

“The data is not just a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have in order to embed equity into every aspect of our response and now into vaccine operations,” says Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

"Communities should be able to generate daily and certainly weekly data to understand the demographics of who is being vaccinated. Local health departments and health institutions need to respond to these data in real time to identify where COVID-19 vaccine uptake is not matching COVID-19 disease burden," said Dr. Muriel Jean-Jacques, Northwestern University Department of Medicine vice chair of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Dr. Howard C. Bauchner of the Boston University School of Medicine, a professor of pediatrics and community health.

Many barriers make it difficult to access the vaccine.

People from hard hit communities often have limited access to digital tools needed to schedule an appointment. And often information about vaccine registration is only available in English.

States that partner with community-based organizations are administering the vaccine more equitably than others, said Rita Carreón, vice president of health at UnidosUS, a civil rights organization for Hispanic communities.

The lack of race and ethnicity data in health systems didn’t begin with this pandemic. For years, health experts have been pleading for better health data to reduce racial health disparities.

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Topics: CDC, vaccines, racial health disparities, pandemic, covid-19 vaccine data, race and ethnicity data, covid-19 vaccine

New Ways Hospitals Are Helping Their Frontline Workers Deal With Stress

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Oct 19, 2020 @ 02:59 PM

nursebreakFrontline healthcare workers face stressors during normal times, but especially now during a pandemic and hospitals are finding new ways to help their staff cope. 

Recently, University Hospitals in Ohio announced they would be trying out a 10-month pilot program that provides sleep pods for their teams. Doctors, Nurses and staff in the UH Cleveland Medical Center Emergency Department will have access to two HOHM units as a space to safely recharge.

Each 43.5 square-foot pod is designed to block out sound and features a twin-sized bed, a privacy and sound-blocking curtain, charging stations, and a tablet to control reservations. 

“Our UH Cleveland Medical Center Emergency Department frontline caregivers have been working tirelessly for months to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Robyn Strosaker, MD,, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Chief Operating Officer. “In the midst of all this trauma and stress, we’ve continuously looked for new ways to support our team, and HOHM sleep pods are a way we can help address their wellbeing.”

Some hospitals are making design changes to their break rooms as a way to try and help healthcare workers manage their stress throughout the day. 

Nurses may be reluctant to take breaks especially during times of crisis. But taking breaks during your shift can help prevent burnout. So when a Nurse does decide to take a break, there should be a space where they can fully decompress and have time to gather their thoughts and recharge. 

Research has found strong evidence between exposure to natural environments and recovery from physiological stress and mental fatigue. Break rooms are becoming a green space with plants and images on the walls of natural landscapes. Create a sitting space with cushioned chairs or ottomans by windows that have a nice view outside. Offer the option of listening to calming music or nature sounds inside the break room. 

Hospitals are also offering time for their staff to spend with support animals. 

Nonprofit organization Canine Companions for Independence provided Jordy, a lab/golden retriever cross to help frontline workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. 

“The science confirms what we already know, pets provide comfort and support during hard times,” said Jessica Lacanlale, MSN, Trauma Program Manager at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “The stress of caring for patients and working long hours is intense; but spending a little time with Jordy lifts my spirits and helps me get through the long days.”

Health Systems like Yale New Haven Health are offering confidential well-being check-in programs. This offers employees an opportunity to meet with an expert social worker or clinician one-on-one to discuss their needs and access resources to manage stress and improve well-being.

“People often downplay their own needs, saying ‘I’m OK’ when asked how they are doing,” said Javi Alvarado, YNHHS’ director of social work and co-chair of the WELD Council. “These visits create an opportunity to be better than ‘OK’ and truly grow from recent challenges.” 

During this pandemic, it is critical hospitals and health systems recognize what stress looks like and takes steps to help their staff cope with it. Equally as important is that healthcare workers know where they can go for help. This means internal communications to staff is key to express your awareness of the stress and the assistance being offered.

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Topics: coping, stress, hospital staff, healthcare professionals, Nurse burnout, managing stress, stress management, frontline workers, frontline healthcare workers, pandemic

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