So many challenges
As a nurse with a wide variety of experience in multiple specialty facilities from Floor nursing in Florida to Nurse Management in Nevada I can state definitively that the challenges we face exist in Both the patient population we treat as well as amongst the maze of oversight providing conflicting information and directives. Our understanding of the coronavirus is fluid and ever evolving. Our response too has been inconsistent and created much confusion amongst health care workers and patients alike. To compound the situation large corporations that run the healthcare facility often seem to be placing profit above the safety of employees that are in the front lines. Constant exposure to the probability of infection, layoffs, closing of many primary care provider offices, and concern for family members are overwhelming our healthcare workers. Add to that the collapse of portions of economy, shuttering of business, religious meeting places, and self care businesses such as gyms and parks. Additionally, social networks are strained as are interpersonal relationships with co-workers, family members and domestic partners. Our challenges are myriad, and our solutions lie in the resilience of the over worked, under supported, and heroic medical staff.
That’s a really good question calling for the humility to recognize that I am not in charge but the courage to reflect on what could be done better. First of all, an effective leader is never above the team they lead. It is incumbent upon the persons in charge to realize that they are but a tiny part of the machinery of healthcare. And that the role they serve is to recognize, promote, and encourage the strengths and talents of all. As a nurse I have held the hands of the newborn as they took their first breath and and the hands of the dying. I may not be an expert at everything but I’m ok with that. However, I truly get to know my coworkers to the extent possible. I make it a priority to connect on whatever level I can, learning that Jane the CNA Has an autistic child at home and may sometimes be late. But she gives her all at work, so I endeavor to adjust her schedule to accommodate her home life rather than penalize her for tardiness. My Administrator may be going through a tough divorce so I try to be understanding if she seems a bit short tempered at times. Another co worker has diabetes and was supposed to give ice water to all the residents but only put ice in the containers. So rather than berate her as some of the nurses were, I told her to check her sugar, have a snack and I jumped in to help. My point is that Every health care worker has a role and a skill set that’s valuable, and as such, should be a part of the conversation effecting the changes we must implement. Upper management seems so distant and disconnected from the staff in many cases, pressured by superiors to produce results that can be measured in metrics. With this in mind, I would stop at nothing to protect my team by obtaining proper PPE to the extent possible. I would pull no punches and inform my staff that the situation is wartime. That means it’s grim, it’s going to be painful and traumatic and we will take a moment to breathe and then keep going. We will have time to process the horror when it’s over and that it’s ok to not be ok. I would let them know that it’s possible that the majority of us may become infected. Some of us will die. But that’s war. Sacrifices are made, and as I work side by side with you, I’m prepared to be right there at the front lines putting it all on the line with you. I will ensure that you get to go to the restroom, You get a break, you get hydration and nourishment, you have mental health counselors and social workers available, and clergy to support you if needed. I would not expect my team to perform miracles nor ask them to do anything that I am not willing to do. I won’t be asleep in my bed, rolling in at 8 a.m. hiding in an office issuing unrealistic demands of fellow staff. I would laugh inappropriately, cry with you, and fight to my dying breath to get you the equipment, supplies, gear, support services and hazard pay that you deserve. When it’s all over, I would advocate for pay increases at all levels, free mental health services for life, student loan forgiveness, and grants for continued education. Because if I was in charge, my staff would always be my priority. But hey, that’s above my pay grade.
If you were in charge--what would you do differently?
If I were in charge nurse leadership would be driving my organizations response and decision. There would be twice daily communication across the hospital from nurse leadership with what we are doing today, where we atnd, what we know and don't know and most importantly what are your challenges today and what do you need from us. All the furloughed non essential hospital workers would be restocking supplies and reaching out to family members who can no longer visit their hospitalized loved ones, collecting donated supplies. if we are truly in this together it should be all hands on deck. Also for our non affected yet hospitals organize to support hot spots, send help.