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Annual celebration of nurses takes on special meaning during COVID-19 pandemic.
This week, businesses around the country, from Dunkin’ to Adidas to Chipotle to H&R Block, are clamoring to offer freebies and discounts for nurses to celebrate National Nurses Week 2020. Though it’s never a bad time to highlight the incredible work nurses do as vital members of care teams in healthcare organizations across the country, this year’s celebration feels especially poignant as the country (and much of the world) is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19.
PerfectServe is fortunate to have nurses on staff, including team members who still practice part-time today and others who transitioned into information technology full-time after spending years in nursing careers. With this valuable perspective in-house, we asked a few of these current and former nurses to share their thoughts about how COVID-19 has changed the role of a nurse, and which we’ll share throughout the rest of the week.
Julie Mills, RN, BSN, MBA
With 18 years of experience as a nurse, Julie has worked in many capacities sharing her clinical expertise, including in the US Air Force as a Unit Coordinator. Currently, Julie is a Senior Clinical Solutions Executive at PerfectServe, where she serves as a clinical advisor to teams across the company. She also practices at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Administration degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Nurses are the listening ear, the conversationalist, and the hand holder.
“I’ve been a nurse for 18 years and currently practice a few days every month at an academic medical center that also serves as the region’s only Level I Trauma Center. COVID-19 brings a heightened sense of awareness to all that we do—checking temps when you walk in the door, wearing masks, and being mindful of supplies. Families aren’t allowed to visit, so they’re calling us more for updates about their loved ones, and the emotional support we provide becomes more critical to the patient.
Nurses have always been the primary patient caregiver at the bedside, but in a crisis, their role is expanded. Without families at the bedside, the nurse is the all day, everyday support system. Beyond providing care, nurses also step up to be the listening ear, the conversationalist and the hand holder. In rapidly changing clinical situations, the nurse’s clinical acumen and intuition are essential to managing care and communications with other team members.”
Mary Piepenbrink, RN, BSN, MBA
With more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Mary has served both as a nurse and a leader in information technology software and service solutions. Currently, she is the Vice President of Sales, Lightning Bolt, where she supports caregivers and helps hospitals and health systems improve their operations, reduce costs, and counteract provider burnout.
COVID-19: An Unprecedented Situation for Nurses
“This is unprecedented for most nurses; most do not have experience beyond routine infection prevention standards and practices. Some specialists mask, gown, and glove up when they care for known infectious patients, but typically that is a careful, thoughtful, measured approach. With COVID-19, nurses are doing this in long stretches and seeing patients rapid-fire. Nurses aren’t just concerned about the hard mental and physical work caring for patients they they normally do—they are fearful about transmission to other patients, concerned about the health of their coworkers, and of course have enormous stress about bringing the virus home to their families. As they do what they do best—triage, adapt, multitask, worry—I can’t but help wonder what effect this will have on our profession long term. I check in on my clinician friends—nurses, doctors, pharmacists—not just where I live, but in other more affected cities, to try and support them by listening and providing encouragement. Many of us feel helpless to do more.”
Mark Denny, BSN
Currently a Clinical Consultant at PerfectServe, Mark assists healthcare organizations as they implement PerfectServe’s Clinical Communication & Collaboration solutions. Mark worked in clinical informatics before transitioning to healthcare IT consulting.
Much-Needed Recognition for Nurses
“The presence of a nurse has a critical impact in any clinical setting, but even more so at this time. Right now, nurses are truly practicing the emergency alert responses they are taught and hope to never use. Nurses in general are frequently exposed to pathogens, bugs, volatile patient situations, staff shortages, and endless documentation, all the while going unnoticed for their work on a day to day basis. This crisis has brought to light many of the dangerous situations nurses willingly walk into every day, and they are now receiving the recognition they deserve. My work doesn’t take me to the bedside anymore, but my contributions make it easier for nursing staff to communicate with their co-workers and on-call physicians while making a positive impact on patient care.”
Celebrating National Nurses Week
For over 20 years, PerfectServe has worked hand-in-hand with nurses to improve care delivery workflows at hospitals and practices across the country. In fact, PerfectServe might not exist if it hadn’t been for the wife of founder Terry Edwards. Penny Edwards was a nurse handling inbound communication for a private practice, and her frustrations with the antiquated process for fielding patient messages and coordinating responses with the physician are what led Terry to devise a more modern after-hours answering service solution.
From those beginnings, PerfectServe has grown to serve healthcare delivery organizations of all shapes and sizes, and one thing that has never changed is the courage and dedication we witness every day from the nurses we serve. Happy National Nurses Week, and thank you for being the backbone of care delivery in communities throughout the United States, especially in times of crisis.