Nurses have always been agents of change within their healthcare systems. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, they are even more vital, stepping in to fill gaps in patient care, process innovation and crisis management.

In Tipton Health’s September 8 webinar, Rachel Start, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, director of Ambulatory Nursing, Nursing Practice and Magnet Performance at Rush Oak Park Hospital, and Nancy May, DNP, RN-BC, NEA-BC, chief nurse executive at University of Michigan Medicine, shared their thoughts on the value of ambulatory nurses. Here are some highlights of the webinar to help you make the best use of your nurses’ talents during the next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Expand Your Virtual Care Efforts

Ambulatory nurses already have the core competencies related to telephonic and virtual care. The two leaders recommended drawing on ambulatory nurses’ multifaceted knowledge to implement and promote telehealth at your organization. At Michigan Medicine, ambulatory nurses played a key role in two virtual innovations:

  • The hospital established a 24/7 triage COVID-19 hotline, fully staffed by ambulatory nurses, as a central contact point for patients. Nurses were able to provide timely access to testing while keeping patients informed and monitored during the delay between testing and result delivery.
  • The patient monitoring at home program enabled patients to keep an eye on symptoms, such as their temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels and more from their own homes. This decreased readmission to the hospital, freeing up nurses to care for the most critical patients.


Gain Insight Into Health Equity and Care Coordination

Ambulatory nurses are the first to recognize which patient populations in their community are being underserved. During the first wave of COVID-19, these nurses played an important role in organizing testing sites and drive-throughs in the hot spots of their cities and providing access to care for the most vulnerable populations.

Continuing this practice during future waves and enlisting your nurses in this process will help you provide the highest level of care to all of the patients in your community.


Communication Is Vital

Interprofessional communication between physicians, nursing staff and nursing leadership is central to success. As a leader, you need to be open and transparent. Hold frequent huddles and run the command center to meet the needs of your patients. Use this break between surges to set up a shared governance structure that will support regular communication.

Rachel suggested grouping similar patient populations, such as oncology or surgery, into cohorts. Create committees based on these groupings to monitor practice trends in each specialty. Committee representatives can then sit on a department-level ambulatory committee to review unit trends. An oversight body for nursing shared governance, which will sit above these cascading committees, should include all settings in your healthcare system—your CNO, as well as representatives from all service lines and departments. This provides a direct line between your ambulatory nursing staff and your nursing leadership.


Learn More from Our Speakers

Click here to view our on-demand webinar video from this session.

Tipton’s next webinar, Every Nurse Is a Palliative Nurse: Alleviating Health-Related Suffering Worldwide, will be held on October 20, 2020, 12:30–1:30 p.m. EDT.