COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges for healthcare professionals around the country and world. Three award-winning nurse executives learned how to innovate and collaborate in the midst of the pandemic. These nurse leaders shared their knowledge in the most recent Tipton Health Nursing Leadership webinar, It’s a Much Different Pandemic: How 2020 Lessons Learned Are Shaping Nursing’s Response to the Delta Variant Surge, moderated by Tipton Health CNO Mary Del Guidice, MSN, BS, RN, CENP.
Taking part in the expert panel were:
- Ilia Echevarria, PhD, MS, RN, CCRN-K, NEA-BC, CENP, CHES Associate Chief Nursing Officer, NCH Healthcare System
- Peggy Mark, PhD, MBA, BSN, RN, System Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Experience Officer, Premier Health
- Maureen White, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FNAP, FAAN, Executive Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive, Northwell Health
When asked how COVID-19 influenced patient care delivered today, the nurse leaders discussed the following themes:
On patient care
- Nurses gained a deeper level of empathy after being with patients when no one else could be … they became family members, providing emotional and physical support
- Multi-disciplinary, cross-departmental partnerships developed, and colleagues built a greater appreciation for each other, especially between team members and physicians. Silos broke down and cooperation flourished among professionals at all levels
- Positions changed to better suit patient needs, and leadership models were questioned
On the use of technology
- Non-clinical staff became part of the patient care process, delivering updates to family members through a newly developed Covid-19 Call Center
- Empowered and encouraged to make decisions, frontline staff showed innovation and creativity with the use of baby monitors for patient observation
- iPads and iPhones were instrumental in keeping patients connected to their families
On nurse wellbeing – recognizing the trauma, not just stress
- Offering mental health support was vital, using multiple channels including counselors, chaplains and designated calm areas
- Leaders received resiliency training
- The community became a partner on respite care and relaxation
- Meeting agendas became centered around wellbeing versus leadership development during “Lunch and Learns” – offering self-care in a safe space for nurse managers
Proud moments during the chaos of the pandemic
The leaders were asked to reflect on their proudest moments with their staffs.
At Northwell Health, it was the healing power of music. A nurse choir formed to raise money for nurses through the hospital foundation. Bringing joy to patients and the public alike, their popularity and voices landed them on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” as a finalist.
Evolution and camaraderie in terms of team approach were the biggest positive impacts for Dr. Echevarria. Staff went from simultaneously reacting, planning and responding to organizing and mobilizing in a well-orchestrated manner with staff continuing to step out of their comfort zones.
Dr. Mark noted the pride and resilience of the nursing staff at Premier Health. Working tirelessly around the clock, the nurses were still managing to have smiles on their faces bringing joy to their colleagues and patients, showing compassion every single day no matter what. They remembered why they became nurses, and what that means.
White reminded the audience to “Look at the things that can happen, even in the darkest days – there are bright lights – you just have to try and look for those silver linings.”