RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL/CNN) — Four pregnant emergency room nurses at UNC Rex have taken to social media to ask North Carolinians to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a photo on Facebook, the women pose with signs reading, “Our babies came to work for you. You stay home for them!”
The photo is light-hearted, but the risk is real. According to the CDC, pregnant women are considered to be at higher risk of developing serious illness from viruses, including coronavirus.
Cortney Hart is one of the nurses in the photo. She’s 16 weeks pregnant with her third child.
“It is definitely a concerning time, even for us healthcare workers, because of all the unknowns that come along with COVID-19,” Hart told WRAL News. “But we are trying to take it day-by-day and we are trying to stay as prepared as we can.”
Hart said managers at UNC Rex are doing what they can to keep pregnant nurses away from the sickest patients when possible.
“We are doing the best we can to support each other,” said Hart. “I think it is second nature to just back each other up.”
Hospitals in North Carolina were already facing a shortage of nurses before the outbreak hit, so sending pregnant nurses home isn’t an option. In fact, they’re hoping to recruit more help as the cases continue to climb.
UNC Nursing School announced Wednesday it’s waiving some fees and tuition for online refresher courses for qualified and licensed nurses who’ve retired or aren’t currently practicing in a direct-care setting. The course, compressed from nine months to three, will update them in the emergent care field to help with the expected influx of COVID-19 patients.
“This pandemic underscores an urgent need for experienced healthcare professionals across our state,” said Nena Peragallo Montano, dean of the UNC School of Nursing, in a news release. “We’re hopeful that by offering this fast-track program and making it more accessible we can help nurses across the state as they continue serving North Carolinians in our fight against coronavirus.”
UNC’s medical and dental schools and various science departments have also donated nearly 850,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, from N-95 masks and gowns to gloves and face shields.
Those supplies will help keep UNC Rex workers safe for now. But they’re expected to face increasing need as the outbreak spreads.
Hart and her coworkers will be ready when that happens.
“We are going to do whatever we can to protect those that come in that need us,” she said.
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