The Role of Nurse Practitioners During COVID-19

Published Online: Monday, May 18th, 2020





Contemporary Clinic spoke with Christy Blanco, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, Texas Nurse Practitioners President & Legacy Member, about the role of nurse practitioners during COVID-19.

Jill Murphy: Hi, this is Jill Murphy from Contemporary Clinic. Before we get started today, one of our top stories on Contemporary Clinic is about a new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health to help determine the incidence rate of COVID-19 in children and their family members in the United States. Today I'm speaking with Christy Blanco, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, President of the Texas Nurse Practitioners and Legacy Member, about the important role of nurse practitioners and nurses during COVID-19. How are you doing today, Christy?

Christy Blanco: I'm doing great, thank you for having me today.

Jill Murphy: Thank you for joining us. During the pandemic, how has the role of nurse practitioners and nurses changed?

Christy Blanco: So we've seen a big change going on right now. We've seen a shift from the primary care world into an acute type setting, and so that has probably been the biggest need that we have seen currently at the moment. But definitely, without a doubt, a lot of people are going without health care from the primary care aspects, which is concerning because their primary care needs are not going away. So we have this fear, and we need to brace for this, that we're going to see a huge shift to the primary care and nurse practitioners are able to take care of these type of situtations at this moment in time. And currently right now we're doing a lot of telehealth or a lot of telemedicine is what we're seeing, and that is definitely posed a lot of challenges that we can see. But definitely it's going to be in the future and it's something that we definitely want to focus on, so we're definitely seeing that. A big change within the nurse practitioner world.

Jill Murphy: And with that in telehealth, are there other things that you have been seeing in your facility as the pandemic continues? 

Christy Blanco: So probably one of the biggest things is the drop in the primary care world. I see it in my facility and across the board, I think everybody has seen that. Everybody is afriad. They're afraid. They don't want to get their blood work done, you know, sometimes they don't have the ability to see patients, patients don't have the technology to be seen via telemedicine routes, so we're definitely seeing a lot of these challenges. I'm seeing it in my primary care aspects or in my world as is so many other people seeing it across the board, across the country, across the states, you know. So definitely a drop in the numbers, a drop.

Jill Murphy: And with that, so there's a lot of news coverage lately about certain states that are reopening, including your state of Texas. And what's the importance of continuing to screen and test patients while this is happening, enforcing social orders like social distancing? 

Christy Blanco: Well I think the important things are to consider is, you know, by wearing a mask we know that we're not going to be protected necessarily, but what it's helping do is it's helping protect our loved ones, our community, it is helping protect other people. And maintaining a social distance, as well, I know can be challenging and especially because you know every state is so different, and then [you know] and a lot of the states have left it up to the mayors. And so there's, so [it's] I think it's a lot of confusion, but I think keeping up with your city and your state requirements is incredibly important as well because it's going to go based on [what] what's going on in your community at the moment because it's so different everywhere, you know, that we see and so we, so, I do believe though maintaining you know trying to wear your masks the CDC has come out with a lot of, you know, guidelines and but not only that how to make a mask you know? You can do it with a t-shirt, a scarf. and there's a lot of tutorials out there that you can do that you can actually make a make a face mask, you know, when you're out in public.

Jill Murphy: Yeah, that's really important right now especially when we can't go to many stores, it's really important that people can look at these tutorials online.

Christy Blanco: Mm-hmm.

Jill Murphy: So I wanted to take a little detour with the [American Association of Nurse Practitioners] AANP. They recently called for policy makers and health systems to take action on the impact that the pandemic's taking on minority communities and that includes requiring healthcare barriers for nurse practitioners being lifted in all 50 states. Have you experienced this firsthand, and if so, how do you feel about their statement?

Christy Blanco: So healthcare disparities have existed for so long, and I'm so grateful that they are out, you know, promoting this and out making you know out actually showing what you know
this is what we need to work on. And because, yeah, we haven't quite seen the statistics, and I would really love to start to see statistics to see how these healthcare disparities are affecting our certain communities. I mean from, you know, from what I read you know in [in] certain states. I mean, the majority of the people who are affected are, you know, gonna be the African-American community, even though [even though] it doesn't make up a large percentage of their state, it's a large percentage of the patients who are being affected by COVID-19. And so this is something that needs to be addressed, and Dr. Fauci as well, he brought this up at a national level. And I was really grateful to see this, because this is something that is a public policy issue that's always been around and it's
something that needs to be addressed and on all levels, yes. 

Jill Murphy: I completely agree with that. And in addition to COVID-19, we're also in the midst of allergy season, and as people begin to sneeze and cough, I feel like there's gonna be more people worried about COVID-19 even more. Do you have any recommendations for differentiating between the two without going in to see a physician?

Christy Blanco: Yeah. Well obviously, I always recommend going in to see your provider to just kind of assess. But most people who have seasonal allergies kind of know when they're about to get seasonal allergies. And so a lot of times you just know. Do you have the itchy eyes? The itchy nose? The clear nasal drainage? Is it occurring during a time frame that it always occurs at, you know, now that we're heading into the spring months? You know, I mean, is this a time frame that usually that it occurs? And so I definitely understand that people are, you know, are more worried about this, and kind of having to evaluate themselves because they have a fear of, you know, being seen by their medical provider. but I do feel like your medical provider, also kind of has a good understanding of your own personal health care needs and can [can] help you decipher via telemedicine route. Is this truly, you know, just allergies? Because I know we're at a time of a high anxiety, a lot of stress, and so any little thing that happens, maybe one little sore throat, and you're thinking "oh my gosh, I might have this!" so, [so] we're definitely dealing with a lot of anxiety. So I encourage people, you know, if you don't want to go in to see your medical provider, because certain states you can't. Please, you know, it's okay to use telemedicine. It is a fabulous route to get healthcare, and [and] it can be, you know, just based on sometimes a lot of history, we can kind of determine "yeah, this is, this is allergies." You've got the itchy nose, that itchy throat, the itchy eyes, I mean, and so, and what we usually take for allergies what has worked in the past, and [might that] might that help again. So, so I think if somebody doesn't wanna go to see their medical provider, really look into telemedicine as a route.

Jill Murphy: And lastly, you have a focus on nutritional health. Are there any supplements people could take as preventive measures to stay healthy right now?

Christy Blanco: So yeah, I absolutely love preventive care, I think that's so great. And without a doubt at this point in time, I am not skipping my supplements, and it's just your basic nutritional vitamins that are absolutely gonna have vitamin C, you know, your B vitamins, just to kind of keep up with your immune system, but I think at this point you know we don't want to underestimate the importance of sleep, and nutrition, and exercise, everything that can help the immune system. So whenever I'm thinking about sleep, I'm always thinking "okay, is stress an issue? And what are some things that can kind of help with stress to kind of calm people's nerves? I always look into l-theanine, which is, you know, one of the components, and green tea. So maybe having a couple of cups of green tea if you're okay with the caffeine, just to kind of help calm your nerves in the morning and to just relax you. I always think as well to make sure you have appropriate magnesium, and I'm always trying to tell people the importance of magnesium to help with a more restful sleep, but you can get this via means of even food, you know, um, avocados are high in magnesium, nuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts are gonna be high in fat as well. And so I really focus on a lot in nutrition and making sure that it's a balanced nutrition, making sure you have a lot of antioxidants, and yes that's gonna be a lot of fruits and vegetables for sure, but making sure you have adequate sleep and exercise, too, to just kind of help you sleep. All of these play a role in the immune system, and so yes, we want to make sure that we have a good immune system, if for whatever reason somebody is exposed to COVID-19. 

Jill Murphy: Those were all really great points you made, it's really important during this time. Christy, thank you so much for joining us. Now let's hear from some of our other MJH Life Sciences brands on their latest headlines.



 

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