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Letters to the Editor: A COVID-19 advisory board without nurses won’t do much good

A nurse protests the lack of adequate protective equipment at a hospital in New York.
A nurse protests the lack of adequate protective equipment outside Jacobi Medical Center in New York.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

To the editor: Thanks to Stacy Torres and Andrew Penn for addressing a significant issue by citing the need for nurses to be included on President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory committee.

As a retired intensive care unit registered nurse, I couldn’t agree more that nursing input at this juncture would be an asset.

So far, nurses have had to strike to ask for more protective equipment and better working conditions. It breaks my heart knowing they have had inadequate protection when treating coronavirus patients.

It is the nurses who run the daily activities of most hospital units and are at the front lines of assessing patient care. Many doctors understand this and respect nurses’ contribution to patient care.

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Perhaps Biden’s “preeminent public health experts” will recognize nursing expertise and insist nurses are included on their team. Our country needs them, and we need to give them respect and recognition they deserve.

Jackie Sarlitt, Irvine

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To the editor: While the physical and emotional demands of nursing are understood by the public, the role nurses play in assessing and monitoring patients and intervening where necessary; implementing, adjusting and coordinating prescribed treatments; and organizing and managing care is not appreciated.

Nurses have an understanding that is distinct from that of physicians and administrators of how care is organized and delivered. They know the weaknesses and opportunities for improvement both in the institutions they serve and in caring for individual patients. Their insight and engagement is critical to improving care and protecting patients.

Any board or task force trying to analyze and improve care that does not include the expertise of nurses is frankly incompetent to do its work.

Jack Needleman, Los Angeles

The writer chairs the department of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.


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