Title : Exploring the COVID-19 experiences of emergency department nurses at a tertiary hospital in Ghana
Background: In March 2020, COVID-19 was declared by WHO as a global pandemic disease. The spread of the disease has significantly exerted its toll on the health system. Ghana has seen over 105,000 Covid-19 cases, including 848 deaths, since the first case was reported. The COVID-19 fights at the emergency front involved all emergency workers including emergency nurses despite the high probability of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Emergency department (ED) nurses are on the frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The clinical experiences of ED nurses in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic have become more challenging because of changes in caseload, social distancing, and trainee redeployment.
Aim: The study sought to explore the experiences of nurses working at the ED in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic at a Tertiary Hospital in Ghana.
Methods: The study was carried out among nurses working at the Emergency Medicine directorate of a Teaching Hospital in Ghana. The purposive sampling method was used to select participants for the study until data saturation was achieved. A semi-structured interview was used to collect data. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using content analysis. Four main themes and eight sub-themes were identified.
Findings: From the narratives of the participants, four main themes and fifteen sub-themes emerged. It was revealed that nurses experience fear, anxiety, and depression. Additional challenges encountered by the nurses hovered around issues such as increased workload, lack of motivation, family disconnection as well as other physical, and social challenges due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These participants were able to cope through prayers, initial incentives by government and vaccination.
Conclusion: Exploring the experiences of nurses will contribute towards improved clinical practice of nurses working at the emergency department in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic and infectious disease outbreaks. It will also add to already existing knowledge. The findings of this study also exposed issues that may need to be addressed to improve nurses’ wellbeing.