NYSNA Supports Nurses in a Post-9/11 World
by Nancy Webber
As the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center approaches, New York nurses are part of a statewide effort to learn from the past and prepare for the future.
Emergency Preparedness Grant:
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) has received a $100,000 grant from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to prepare for possible incidents of bioterrorism and other health emergencies.
The funding is part of $34 million provided to the state by the federal government. The money will be used at the state level to expand laboratory capacities, improve communications, and support training. A portion is being distributed to county governments and to healthcare institutions and organizations, including NYSNA.
NYSNA plans to use these funds to:
1. Establish and maintain an up-to-date, computerized list of volunteer nurses, organized by specialty and region.
2. Identify nurses who could be available for a speakers bureau.
3. Develop and implement a mechanism to assure that volunteers are trained to participate in an emergency response.
4. Work with DOH to assess needs and promote training for nurses on emergency preparedness issues. NYSNA will collaborate with other agencies to coordinate training programs.
5. Develop a plan for staffing a toll-free phone line that could be used to link nurse volunteers during an emergency.
"After 9/11, we were inundated with calls from nurses who wanted to help", said NYSNA Deputy Executive Director Tina Gerardi. "We need to know before an emergency which nurses are willing to volunteer in emergencies, how to contact them, and their areas of expertise".
Helpful Links Online:
At the NYSNA 2001 Convention, a task force was formed in response to nurses concerns about the long-term psychological effects of the events of Sept. 11. Task force members searched for areas that were in need of more information. One such area was anniversary reactions. Nurses began identifying such reactions when the weather turned warm this spring.
"As the one-year anniversary date approaches, nurses need to be prepared for emotional responses among their patients, colleagues, and themselves", said Candy Dato, RN, task force chairperson. "We must continue to heal people, because the main purpose of terrorism is to traumatize the living".
Dato said research studies confirm what New York nurses already know: There are high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among adults and children, especially in New York City
Links have been set up from the NYSNA Web site (www.nysna.org
) to informational materials identified by the task force that could assist nurses in helping others and themselves get through the anniversary date. The links will enable them to find the most current information from sources such as National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychological Association, and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Resources are organized according to general information, mental health, research, fact sheets, and Power Point presentations. One of these presentations was created by task force member Mary Martin and will be given at the NYSNA Annual Convention in September 2002 in Montreal.
All nurses are invited to attend. Members of the Canadian Nurses Association and the State Nurses Associations of Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont are cordially invited to attend at the NYSNA members rate. (http://www.nysna.org/workshops/conve...troduction.htm
To access the task force information, go to www.nysna.org
and click on Nursing Practice and then on the heading Post 9/11 Coping and Healing Resources.