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Creating a Cohesive Environment to Combat COVID-19

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By:

Bri Rogers

June 11, 2020
The Center for Nursing Excellence always strives to provide continuous improvement and educational opportunities for GBMC’s nursing staff, a mission that has become even more important since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to the crisis, Erin Pilson, MS, RN, CNOR, Education Specialist in Perioperative and Endoscopy Services at GBMC HealthCare, and the team in the General Operating Room (GOR) worked together to create a cohesive environment where surgical technologists and anesthesia providers could work side-by-side to support COVID-19 patients and the inpatient staff in their fight against the virus.

At the start of the pandemic, little was known about how many people would be affected by the virus. The GOR quickly designated a trained group of anesthesia providers and surgical technologists to create an intubation (airway) team that would be called upon any time a patient needed a ventilator. Erin worked to provide training on the donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the nurses, physicians, and surgical technologists on the team. The technologists also managed the restocking of intubation bags in the Emergency Department and intubation boxes in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Each team member was assigned their own set of PPE that was disinfected after every patient interaction to reduce waste during the nationwide shortage.

When asked about her feelings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Erin said “I was feeling a strong sense of uncertainty at the beginning. The fear of my elderly parents being affected, the risk posed to me as a frontline worker, and the isolation I felt at home alone made me very anxious. After about a month, I became acclimated to the situation and started connecting more frequently with my neighbors, which provided me with the social outlet I was missing.”

While COVID-19 created anxiety for many healthcare professionals, it also created a sense of unity and a collaborative environment within the walls of GBMC. “I think using the surgical technologists to assist the intubation (airway) team was very unique to GBMC. This was the perfect fit for individuals in these roles as they were given the opportunity to use their skills to contribute to the greater good of the hospital,” Erin expressed. Many have been given the opportunity to work alongside team members they would not normally see in their day-to-day work. “I do not typically work directly with anesthesia providers, but the pandemic enabled me to work with them on a different level and in a different way,” she said. “It was great to see how the team was able to use their particular skills in ways outside of their typical duties in the operating rooms. This made a real difference when it came to reducing the risk of contamination or exposure to the frontline staff and is a great example of how we put our existing resources to good use,” Erin explained.

GBMC HealthCare is extremely grateful for Erin, her team, and all of our healthcare professionals who have stepped up to support their patients and coworkers. As an organization, we are proud to provide advancements in education while encouraging all employees to have a questioning attitude that serves to continually improve processes, quality, and safety. To learn how you can support our healthcare heroes, please visit www.gbmc.org/donations or donate to the GBMC HealthCare Workers Fund which helps those sacrificing so much to protect our community.
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