Dr. Mohammed Al Ghamdi
President of the Saudi Nurses Association (SNA)
“The safety of frontline healthcare workers is and will always be SNA’s priority”
Shortage of staff was quite prevalent during the pandemic. How were the overwhelming circumstances of frontline workers managed during that time?
Managing medical and caregiving environments is always a challenging responsibility, hence it is important to always consider all stakeholders in the healthcare experience. Conservation of the workforce was a priority, and minimizing all admissions, including elective surgeries, helped reduce staff workload. This allowed us to align our focus and efforts toward taking care of COVID-19 patients. Nurses were also given specific training for treating COVID-19 patients, as well as cross-training to offer adequate coverage, boost flexibility and durability, and better prepare for a variety of patient care circumstances.
What were the challenges and how was SNA tackling them?
The safety of frontline healthcare workers is and will always be SNA’s priority. The entire healthcare system would have collapsed if frontline personnel safety and well-being were not ensured. To increase their safety, we launched a media campaign to raise awareness of safety measures when caring for COVID-19 patients. Moreover, SNA hosted many free educational and awareness webinars to foster an open dialogue with all healthcare professionals (HCPs), with the help of the national COVID-19 steering committee, of which I was an honoured member.
It is essential that nurses are given the right tools to deliver the best care. What are some innovations that have been beneficial to this effort?
We are fortunate to have been able to adopt modern integrative healthcare technology. The essential tools, however, were continuous education that covered new medical advancements, techniques, and practices for nurses. We strengthened the role of SNA by networking with other healthcare organizations and frontline workers to deliver the most recent insights and raise awareness of patient care challenges and solutions through engaging webinars.
During and post-pandemic, the mental health of frontline workers like nurses was becoming one of the key concerns. What role has SNA played in this area to help overcome this challenge?
Alongside the physical safety of our frontline workers, SNA advocated the use of mental health support resources, such as Employee Assistance Plans and teletherapy. Additionally, we have supported HCWs and their organizations, communities, and government entities to work together and communicate standardized decision-making processes effectively. The aim was to ensure that the core ethical principles were upheld and that the mental and physical well-being of HCWs was maintained and not compromised. SNA also implemented strategies designed to prevent moral and psychological distress within the work environment. This was supported by ensuring adequate access to resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and pharmaceuticals, as well as boosting staffing numbers. The availability of such solutions helped reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 for HCWs.