ENA Statement on Emergency Nurse Protection During COVID-19 Pandemic
March 27, 2020 • COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment PPE
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (March 27, 2020) – The Emergency Nurses Association on Friday released the following statement in regards to the availability and use of personal protective equipment by emergency nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ENA believes emergency nurses and other health care workers (HCWs) providing direct care for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients should be provided the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to safely care for these patients, including PPE that meets National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards. ENA also believes recommendations for PPE should be evidence-based and not downgraded based on supply chain. ENA supports emergency nurses and other HCWs in obtaining and using self-supplied PPE that meets NIOSH standards when, in their professional opinion, hospital-supplied PPE supplies are inadequate.
ENA strongly cautions against use of homemade or cloth masks by HCWs in this pandemic. Makeshift or homemade PPE such as bandanas, scarves, and cloth masks are not appropriate PPE as there is no evidence they will adequately protect HCWs. Using homemade PPE also puts HCWs at higher risk for exposure due to poor fit and need for frequent adjustments. Only as a last resort, after all options for obtaining appropriate respiratory protection have been exhausted--including working with manufacturers, state and local health departments, other local health care providers, and community resources--should homemade masks be used, in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.