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After three years of living through a global pandemic which led to millions of deaths, put an insurmountable strain on health care providers and altered our way of life, the COVID-19 public health emergency expires on May 11. While the expiration of the public health emergency signals a lot of changes — ending the use of some waivers for federal health programs, reducing social safety net benefits and limiting coverage for COVID-19 vaccines and tests — it does not signal the end of the COVID-19 virus itself.
Although the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that daily reported cases of COVID-19 are down 92% and new COVID-19 hospitalizations are down nearly 80%, nurse practitioners (NPs) and other health care professionals will soon have to navigate a very different health care landscape with no reliable COVID-19 data sharing and growing concerns over long COVID’s burden on public health. Read on to learn how you can help improve COVID-19 patient outcomes ahead of these changes with the aid of effective outpatient treatment.
As COVID-19 becomes more and more normalized and patients begin to seek treatment and care from the comfort of home, it is important to understand the best strategies and principles to treat patients where they are. Ruth Carrico, PhD, DNP, APRN, FNP- C, CIC, FSHEA, FNAP, FAAN, and Wendy Wright, DNP, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, FNAP, know this principle well. In January, Drs. Carrico and Wright hosted a live webinar for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) concerning COVID-19 management in the non-hospitalized patient. In the presentation, Carrico stated, “Despite the availability of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, outpatient treatments and other complimentary approaches remain an important tool in the fight against COVID-19.”
Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective way to prevent your patients from getting sick and one of the best ways to slow the spread of the virus. However, COVID-19 vaccination is not an end-all cure to stopping the virus. Unfortunately, up-to-date vaccination rates in the U.S. remain low, with only 69% of the total population having completed their primary series vaccinations. As the effectiveness of the primary series and initial boosters wanes against newer variants and over time, the latest booster set becomes more vital than ever — and yet only 16% of the population have reportedly received the latest Bivalent booster dose. With vaccination rates stagnating and other important tools against COVID-19 such as community measures to prevent transmission no longer mandated, how can you and your NP colleagues best combat this virus?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Approximately 80% of patients with COVID-19 who are unvaccinated have mild illness that does not require medical intervention or hospitalization, and the proportion is likely higher in patients who are vaccinated. Most patients with mild COVID-19 (defined as the absence of viral pneumonia and hypoxemia) can be managed in an ambulatory care setting or at home.” While this means that you and your fellow providers might not see your patients rush to your practice or the emergency room to seek treatment for COVID-19, you may see a greater increase in telehealth visits and a strain on alternative therapies for outpatient treatment of the virus.
Thankfully, there are resources to help provide therapeutic management to non-hospitalized adults. Please explore the following tools and guides to support your success:
The landscape around COVID-19 treatment is constantly changing. As stated by Wright, “Those early treatments that worked so well against of the earlier strains of COVID-19 have fallen out of favor cause they’re no longer efficacious.” AANP is here to support you in your pursuit of cutting-edge COVID-19 prevention and treatment.
Join Drs. Ruth Carrico and Wendy Wright Wednesday, May 10, at 1:30-2:30 p.m. ET (12:30-1:30 p.m. CT) for part two of their live webinar on COVID-19 outpatient treatment. This activity offers 1.0 contact hours (CH) of CE credit and includes 45 minutes of presentation followed by 15 minutes of live questions and answers. Register today to attend the webinar and earn free CE!