Central Austin Edition | April 2020

Community Impact Newspaper, our editors and reporters have been working to tell the story of a community ghting challenges for which there are no easy solutions. Visit our website at communityimpact.com and sign up for our daily newsletter to see more stories from the Central Austin community. How Austin is battling COVID-19

PROJECTED REGISTERED NURSE DEFICIT IN CENTRAL TEXAS 2016 STUDY

Amid the COVID19pandemic, newprecautions leave expectingmothers uncertain and anxious

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BY CHRISTOPHER NEELY

the health and safety of mothers and babies. Since the virus is still so new, the lack of solid evidence over how it could impact a pregnancy or a child’s health later in life is a major question and concern for mothers and doctors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported mixed ndings related to pregnancy and the coronavirus. No scientic evidence shows pregnant women are more sus- ceptible to this specic virus, but the body and immune system changes pregnant women experience might make them more susceptible, gener- ally, to viral respiratory infections, according to the CDC.

As Yesenia Morales laid in her hospital bed at St. David’s Women’s Center—her new baby boy, Luka, in her arms—she noticed how much quieter everything was her fourth time around the delivery and recov- ery rooms. Instead of being in the hospital waiting area or crowded around her bed, Luka’s three older siblings were 8 miles away, inside the family’s North Austin home with their uncle, a recent Austin transplant. Both sides of the family of her and her husband, Antonio, were at their homes in Dal- las. They were not allowed to visit due to restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis. “Normally when you have a baby, you’re ready for everyone to come visit and meet them, but given the fact of everything that’s going on, we’re pretty much just going to be in our home, quarantined and isolated,” Morales said. “I keep telling Anto- nio, ‘I can’t believe we’re bringing a baby into the world with all of this happening.’” Tight restrictions on partners apply to in-person prenatal appointments, and doctors are now trying to move as many appointments as possible to telehealth. Lauren Hagen, a nurse at Austin’s OBGYN North said, although unprecedented, the changes prioritize

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SOURCE: TEXAS CENTER FOR NURSING WORKFORCE STUDIES

New rules could helpmore nurses join the ght against the coronavirus pandemic BY JACK FLAGLER

shortage could be signicant for the community. University of Texas mod- els show that residents in the area must cut their social interactions by 80%—meaning they have one social interaction with another person per day when they would have other- wise had ve—in order to avoid over- whelming hospital resources before Aug. 17. The state is implementing new rules to try to increase hospitals’ abilities to hire nurses. On March 21, Gov. Greg Abbott allowed graduates to extend their temporary permits to practice for up to six months, rather than the original 75-day length of the permit, before taking their licensure exams. Previously, those soon-to-be nurs- ing graduates could only complete half their clinical coursework in a sim- ulated environment, but with many universities that are closing their cam- puses, the requirements were waived to allow students to nish their stud- ies under safe conditions.

A longstanding nursing short- age is not a new problem for Central Texas, where population growth has fueled a correspond- ing increase in medical needs, according to nurses, educators and experts. The shortage is multifaceted, and can be described through a combination of variables. A high-stress position with a rela- tively short career shelf life and an aging population, both in the community as a whole and the nursing population, have been factors in the shortage. This is according to Marla Erbin-Roese- mann, director of the St. David’s Texas State University School of Nursing program, and Serena Bumpus, practice director of the Texas Nurses Association. As cases of the coronavirus continue to rise locally, the con- sequences of that longstanding

"I can't believe we're bringing a baby into the world with all of this happening" Yesenia Morales, Austin resident

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