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CRNAs Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

As our country and the commonwealth continue their aggressive measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Pennsylvania’s certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are taking action to ensure public health and safety.

As the hands-on providers of anesthesia care, operating safely in every setting where anesthesia is administered, CRNAs, like so many other health-care professionals, are on the frontline. That makes the profession a critical part of the national response.

“CRNAs hold leadership positions in their institutions of care and help to create policy about how best to protect fellow providers and patients,” said Angelarosa G. DiDonato, DNP, CRNA, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA). “Our top priority is always public health and safety.”

As a precaution, many Pennsylvania hospitals are choosing to cancel elective cases requiring anesthesia, except where a condition is emergent or urgent and essential to the health of the patient. All decisions are made in consultation and coordination with patients and surgical teams.

CRNAs also are changing the way they work with patient airways, as COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is characterized by mild to severe symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is providing resources to support CRNAs as they develop strategic steps for managing patients with expected or confirmed infection. These tips go beyond meticulous hygiene and strict environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures to intubation and aerosolization techniques.

Excellence in care, safety, and continuous improvement of care are hallmarks of the anesthesia profession.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Health is reporting new cases daily, which means everyone has a role to play. Remember these simple tips to protect yourself, your family and your community:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid crowds and stay home, even when no exhibiting signs and symptoms.

  • If you must work or be in public, follow guidelines for social distancing (stay six feet others).

Thank you for all you do always, but especially in times of crisis like we face together today. Be smart and be safe. Don’t hesitate to contact PANA with questions.

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