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Fluids & Electrolytes
I'd like to weigh in on how to prevent influenza and other respiratory infections in healthcare facilities. This fall, the hospital in which I work adopted a mandatory influenza vaccination policy for all employees and physicians. Anyone without proof of vaccination is required to wear a surgical mask the entire time they're in the hospital from December 1 through March 31, with no exceptions.
I think focusing on basic masking for those with signs and symptoms of infectious disease is far more reasonable than requiring masking for unvaccinated workers. In the month I wore a mask before being vaccinated, I noted an unforeseen consequence of this policy: It actually discourages workers who are ill from wearing a mask. For example, when I offered a mask to an RN with obvious signs and symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection, she declined with a laugh and stated, "Oh, it sounds much worse than it is." She then proceeded to enter a patient's room.
In my facility, workers are reluctant to wear a mask for fear of being branded as "one of those people" who isn't vaccinated. After the first week of requiring unvaccinated workers to wear a mask, the infection control nurse sent out an e-mail to all employees to remind them not to be unkind to their colleagues.
If the goal is patient safety, wouldn't it be more sensible to invest energy and time in a campaign of "masking up" similar to campaigns focused on hand hygiene? Now that's something I could get behind.
-ELIZABETH ENGELKING, BSN, RN
In "Growing Professionally" (Letters, November 2010),* Anna Liza D. Fernandez states, "The requirement for a baccalaureate degree for entry-level nursing practice is long overdue." Nurses who espouse this view are ignoring the contributions of the many nurses who haven't yet attained a BSN. Many associate-degree-prepared nurses make large contributions to the profession of nursing. ADNs who are in second careers also bring diverse skill sets to nursing. With a nursing shortage looming, seeking to exclude a source of new nurses is both shortsighted and elitist.
-DOUG GRIMES, RN
* Individual subscribers can also access this article free online at http://www.nursing2011.com. [Context Link]
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