By Karen Olsen, CNO at Mission Hospital
There is no time more appropriate than now to salute Mission Hospital’s professional, compassionate, and resilient nurses. We are celebrating National Nurses Week from May 6th-12th, as well as National Hospital Week, from May 10th-16th. Nursing is both an art and a science and our nursing team is excellent at using their clinical expertise — while keeping the patient at the center of all they do.
As we face challenging times reshaped by COVID-19, our nurses have adapted to a new reality, new protocols and recommendations, and evolving best practices without losing their passion for the important work of nursing.
Robert Credeur, MSN, Nursing Director recently shared a meaningful patient story about our first “patient under investigation” (PUI) for suspected COVID-19. This patient was on business in Asheville, without family, friends and knowing no one when she started experiencing the symptoms of COVID. You can imagine her fear and the fear of the staff who were preparing to care for her. Despite the obvious and unknown, the two nurses assigned to her donned their protective gear and cared for her as they would any other patient — knowledgeably, compassionately, and reassuringly.
In addition to being expert clinical caregivers, this team became the patient’s “instantfamily, holding her hand, providing her with calming music, and facilitating a FaceTime visit with her family during her stay with us. Our nurses proudly shared later that nothing would prevent them from doing this sacred work — not even a pandemic. Testing later revealed that our patient did not have COVID-19, but from the moment she entered our hospital, her care and support was their No. 1 priority.
Robert also shared that upon release, our patient struggled to make sense of what happened, as many patients do. Her gift to us was preparation, we were now ready both in theory and practice to care for future COVID-19 patients.
This is but one instance of the selflessness I witness daily here, and why we celebrate our nurses every year. Originally the planning team in charge of designing nursing appreciation events imagined celebrations that featured food trucks, group photo opportunities, and more. Then along came our new world of social distancing, so they pivoted deftly and restructured activities to meet safety requirements. Now we’ll be hosting virtual picnics and bingo with prizes, more local unit events, and infuse each one with a self-care theme for our heroes.
More seriously, I want to assure the community that, as part of HCA Healthcare, our nurses are supported in countless ways to provide the safest care always, but especially during this period. As part of this robust 186-hospital system, we learn from our fellow facilities about evidence-based best practices for treating COVID-19 patients that always reflect the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines. HCA’s critical guidance includes care “toolkits” that outline tabletop drills and real-life situations, and take into account facilities housed in multiple buildings as we are, allowing us to bypass creating them “from scratch.”
Our top priority is keeping our community safe, which is why we’ve instituted a no-visitors policy at the hospital. You will also see universal masking in place and screeners checking for symptoms at our limited open entrances. One team is doing all of our virus testing to ensure accuracy, while our PPE is distributed through five centers that inventory and manage it, with one PPE steward overseeing runners who replenish all departments’ stock levels. We’re well-prepared for a surge, should we experience one.
During this extraordinary time, we’re striving to make life easier for our nurses and staff by providing in-hospital scrub laundering, our cafeteria has also set up a grocery shop where nurses can purchase basics, saving them time and exposure in the community.
After almost four decades as a nurse, I remain moved that we provide care for our patients and their families through victories and tragedies, joy and sorrow. I extend my gratitude to them, and to our community for continuing to entrust us with your care. We will get through this, together.
Karen Olsen is the Chief Nursing Officer at Mission Hospital in Asheville.