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Study IDs challenges to NYU Langone nurses in Sandy aftermath

Friday August 22, 2014
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A recent study by researchers at the New York University Colleges of Nursing and of Dentistry, published online issue in The Journal of Urban Health, examines the impact on New York University Langone Medical Center nurses’ post-Sandy deployment to help address patient surge in eight local hospitals and health facilities which had not been as affected by the storm, according to a news release.

In the mixed-method study, “Challenges of Nurses’ Deployment to Other New York City Hospitals in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” researchers conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with a sample of 16 nurses in a variety of roles and practice areas and varying levels of nursing experience. More than 500 NYULMC nurses completed an online quantitative survey about their Hurricane Sandy experiences. The study identified multiple challenges associated with the post-evacuation deployment to other area hospitals, according to the release.

“We found that more than half of the deployed nurses surveyed (54%) characterized their deployment as extremely or very stressful, and many of these nurses remained on these interim assignments for up to two months,” lead author Nancy Van Devanter, DrPH, EdM, RN, FAAN, an associate professor at NYUCN specializing in health services research, said.

The qualitative interviews revealed psychosocial and practice-based challenges that include working in an unfamiliar environment; limited orientation time; legal concerns; and issues related to assignments. Only 30% of nurses surveyed thought they received a “sufficient” orientation to the host hospital. Also, several nurses described situations in which they were assigned to more patients than they felt they could safely care for, according to the release.

“We saw that the immediacy of the natural disaster limited opportunities for host hospitals to provide deployed nurses with a comprehensive orientation,” Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, study co-author and NYUCN professor, said, in the news release. “This caused the nurses a great deal of stress and concern over a lack of familiarity with the host hospital’s documentation systems, equipment, policies and procedures.”

While the separation from their co-workers also was a significant stressor for the nurses, the researchers noted that the nurses made specific efforts to keep in touch during the deployment period. “Another aim of our research was to identify resources that helped nurses deal with their stress during the ordeal,” Victoria H. Raveis, PhD, MA, MPhil, research professor and director, Psychosocial Research Unit on Health, Aging and the Community at NYUCD, said in the news release. “The study showed that peer support served as a major mode of stress reduction. Almost every participant in the qualitative study touched upon the importance of the support their NYULMC peers provided in adjusting to the deployment experience.”

The researchers also found that support from NYULMC supervisors helped alleviate the deployed nurses’ stress. The researchers’ findings will be used to inform policies which facilitate in future disaster response supporting skilled nurses’ participation in deployment in a more effective and meaningful way, according to the release. “Our findings will allow us to advocate for the establishment of formal structures to enhance opportunities for nurses deployed during disasters to interact and work with some of their peers, especially when it is not possible to deploy intact teams to host hospitals,” Van Devanter said.


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