The New Jersey State Nurses Association, which advocates for more than 160,000 licensed nurses, supports the leadership of New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to serving as a patient’s frontline medical provider, nurses are advocates, teachers, counselors, and caregivers for those in need. Any time. All the time.
Registered nurses dispense all those duties while following the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. Commissioner Persichilli embodied all the provisions of the Code during the COVID-19 crisis — even before the first positive patient in New Jersey was diagnosed.
- Provision 1 of the Code states: “The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems…”
- Provision 3 is more succinct: “The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.”
As a novel or new virus, COVID-19 challenges the health care community because so much is unknown.There isn’t any data to leverage from the last outbreak because there has never been another outbreak involving this virus strain. Despite the lack of data early in the crisis, Commissioner Persichilli used her invaluable experience as a nurse to develop plans to mitigate the spread of infection, which protected the health of all our citizens.
Commissioner Persichilli continues to work tirelessly to address all the health care issues that have arisen during the past several months. Although the restrictions and the slow-and-steady road to “normal” can be frustrating, it is a safe and sustainable plan. The Commissioner is first and foremost a nurse, and her nursing ethics have guided her to do the best that anyone could do in this ever-evolving pandemic.
Along with Commissioner Perischilli, the New Jersey State Nurses Association will continue to work toward developing and delivering future solutions that will keep us safe and healthy.
Kate Gillespie and Judith Schmidt
Ms. Gillespie is the president of the New Jersey State Nurses Association and Judith Schmidt is the chief executive officer of the New Jersey State Nurses Association and the Institute for Nursing.