Elizabeth Iocco, AAS, RN, originally from Cardiac Cath Lab – Long Island Jewish Medical Center

As the COVID-19 crisis was growing exponentially, it became apparent that the staff of the Cardiology department could be utilized in a different fashion to meet the needs of our surging units. The hospital’s strategic plan was to close this department and redeploy the staff. Managers within the department met, discussed each employee, their clinical background and expertise and preliminarily where we thought they would have the best fit. Following those meetings, we phased out the department and met with staff to discuss redeployment.

Elizabeth was initially redeployed as a functional nurse on the med-surg floors. She then volunteered to work in the Emergency Department as the volume was tremendous and new areas were opening up. Fortunately, there were several other members of the Cardiology department redeployed there, so there were some familiar faces (what you could see of them under all the PPE) there.

With the arrival of agency nurses and the decrease in ED volume, Elizabeth came to us and volunteered to take a district in a critical care environment. She has critical care experience and this was both a natural fit and a desperate need. Elizabeth talked about that deployment. She was even willing to flip shifts and work nights full-time. This meant she would be separated from most of her current coworkers, but she saw the need and rose to the occasion. She spoke of floating within the critical care division, working with all different nurses, doctors and PCAs. Elizabeth noted that the established units were a little easier than the “pop-up” units because there was a better understanding of where to find supplies and what resources were available. She also noted that despite the tremendous volume, the support for the team and nursing ratios were better than what she was hearing about other hospitals.

When asked about a particularly memorable patient experience, Elizabeth spoke of a patient from SICU. The patient was very sick and the attending was speaking to the family regarding a terminal wean. She was so impressed with the patience the attending had during this difficult conversation. She remarked about how the entire team pulled together and supported this patient and each other. Assignments were difficult, especially in the beginning, but there was never a time that you would not get help if you needed it. She felt supported both by the administration of her home department and that of her “temporary home.” Elizabeth was also very impressed by a “titles at the door” approach—essentially all hands on deck, all the time.

I asked Elizabeth what was one thing that she will always remember about this experience and she stated, “Every shift I can remember at least one RN that made a connection. I can picture someone who was there and helped the day go smoother.”