The politics and policy of disaster response and public health emergency preparedness I was able to see how the disaster health policies discussed within Congress and members of government affect the facilities in which we work. Depending on which facility I am working in for the week, there is a governing body that requires the facilities to have an emergency preparedness plan. Depending on the body that governs, the individual facility must have a plan that meets the minimum requirements set-up.
At 1415 today, my facility held its quarterly fire drill on second shift. While the staff was not aware this would occur, I had already been notified by the maintenance director who is in charge of hosting the disaster drills once on each shift quarterly. At the sound of the fire alarm going off, an announcement is made notifying staff that there is a code red and the area is also identified via fire panels and verbalized over the speaker system. The fire panels light up red where there is a fire or in this case where the alarm was pulled. This is something staff is taught during their training with the facility upon hire and they practice during drills such as these. Staff members are expected to participate regardless of the department ensuring that all residents within the facility are taken to a safe location, the hallways are cleared, and everyone is accounted for. One individual from each unit is tasked with taking a fire extinguisher to the area announced to help with putting out the fire. After the fire is noted as clear. A head count is done, the in-service is signed off and staff are given pointers where improvement is needed. Each unit discuss best practices and all questions and concerns are addressed.
Fire drills only prepare for one type of disaster but based on the facilities location there are other drills that are practiced in an effort to prepare for a disaster such hurricanes or tornadoes. Disaster preparedness is a continuous and integrated process resulting from a wide range of activities and resources rather than from a distinct activity by itself. It requires the contributions of many different areas ranging from training and logistics, to health care to institutional development (Barton, 2009). The idea behind the training exercise is to create a teaching moment that serves as preparation in the event there is an actual disaster.
Health policy does impact nursing practice in this arena greatly. Disaster health policies affect all those impacted by a disaster, including health and human service responders, hospital-based receivers, suppliers, and community members (Mason, Gardner, Outlaw, & O’Grady, 2016). The acute care facility I work in is governed by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). AHCA gives a 7-page outline for preparation of a comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP) that each facility is required to have upon submission for review and approval by county emergency management agencies, (AHCA, 1994). Nurses have to actively participate and get involved with policy making because it affects the disaster plan requirements in the areas that we work in and the communities we serve.
Health policies are meant to guide nurses and healthcare workers in performing their duties as per the rules and regulations of the responsible agencies involved in the management of nurses. The role of nurses in any hospital setting is to care for patients by applying their knowledge and skills to ensure that patients receive the best available care (Sekse, Hunskår, and Ellingsen, 2018). Being frontline workers, nurses are essential in coordinating the activities within the hospitals and carrying out other roles such as education of patients. However, for nurses to perfume their duties, they need to have an environment that can help them carry out their duties and, at the same time, protect them from any harm and danger that may arise from caring for patients. The hospital environment needs to be supportive of nurses in such a way that the health policies need to take into consideration the interests of nurses so that their grievances and needs are addressed to ensure a smooth flow of work within the hospital. Nurses are professionals with the knowledge and skills that can help in improving the care delivery system through policy formulation and implementation at their workplaces. Nurses have a duty to ensure the safety of patients, improve the quality of care, and assess the effectiveness of the healthcare delivery system. With these responsibilities, nurses are seen as agents of change within the healthcare setting.
The healthcare policies have an impact on the way nurses carry out their activities within the hospital because these policies set the standards that every nurse is expected to adhere to. A problem may arise when policies are set without consulting nurses, and the policies end up backfiring. Therefore it is important that before any policy is made and introduced, nurses have to be involved, and they should take part in the development of those policies. Moreover, nursing policies can affect the way nurses carry out their duties by dictating the number of resources that get allocated to nurses. Resources allocation is an important factor that can affect nurses because they need equipment to help in caring for patients. Poor resource allocation can influence the nursing practice by limiting the number of materials that nurses may need to care for patients. Such resources and materials may include medicine, gloves, surgical masks, personal protective gear, among others.
Additionally, health policies affect the ability of a nurse to make decisions within the healthcare setup. Some policies may prevent nurses from making decisions about patient care, which ends up affecting the quality of care nurses may provide to patients. Nurses can also influence the policies by engaging in studies and research work that can help in improving the whole aspect of care through the introduction of better policies (Ellenbecker and Edward, 2016). I have witnessed nurses doing studies to help improve the health policies that exist within the current system of care. There have been collaborations among nurses as they intend to influence the health policies that may hinder them from offering quality care to patients within their work environment.
Health policies also help in improving nurses’ competence and commitment while giving out care (Karami, Farokhzadian, and Foroughameri, 2017). Giving care to patients demands that nurses make use of their knowledge and skills to ensure good patients outcomes. The health policies dictate the standards expected of nurses while attending to patients because any negligence on the part of the nurse can lead to serious and sometimes fatal consequences on the patients. Therefore health policies help nurses to be competent while caring for patients. Additionally, health policies help the nurses in preventing malpractices that may affect the quality of care patients receive. While at the hospital, nurses are required to have advocacy for patients as well as their professional duties. Through advocacy, nurses help in improving the quality of care.
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