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Excellence in Maternal Child Health During COVID-19

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By:

Bri Rogers

June 8, 2020
On a typical day, GBMC’s Center for Nursing Excellence provides continuous improvement and educational opportunities for GBMC’s nursing staff to advance their knowledge, develop their skill set, and elevate themselves to the top of their licensure. Lynn Arenson, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, and Kelly Potter, BSN, RNC-NIC, are Education Specialists for Maternal Child Health at GBMC. They provide extensive training to nurses in Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, Pediatrics, Newborn Nursery, and the NICU. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, Lynn and Kelly knew that it wouldn’t stop babies from being delivered and the staff would need to come together to support one another.

“We are such a specialized area and we wanted to make sure all of our nurses and technicians were cross-trained in the event of a surge,” explained Lynn. The cross-training included skills stations with one-on-one learning to teach post-partum and newborn skills to technicians who would need them to support the nurses and one another. Within a week and a half, Lynn and Kelly had trained 90% of the technician staff and have now taken on the larger undertaking of cross training all nurses. When asked why this was important, Kelly responded, “If a post-partum nurse is in a mom’s room and the mom asks for help with breastfeeding, we can better serve the patient if the post-partum nurse has the skills to help. This eliminates having to call for the newborn nursery nurse and creates an improved experience for our new moms.”

As the COVID-19 outbreak progressed, there were feelings of uncertainty and fear. The situation was changing by the hour, but the staff pressed on and persevered. “Personally, I was very empathetic to what our staff was going through,” Lynn explained. “In Maternal Child Health, we knew we would not be taking care of the sickest of the sick, but we wanted to show our support for our colleagues on other units. For example, the Labor and Delivery RNs made baskets for each of the units treating COVID-19 patients to let them know we were here for them.” The Maternal Child Health unit was not halted by COVID-19, moms were still having babies, and, in fact, they experienced a few of their busiest months of the year.

The Center for Nursing Excellence is constantly looking for ways to increase the skills of nurses and technicians to promote their professional journey at GBMC. “While it can be uncomfortable for staff to be moved to an area that they do not feel is their specialty, cross-training provides an environment where we can increase our capacity within the division. This is still a work in progress, but it is definitely a start and we have a good foundation for where we want to take this training in the future,” Kelly said. When asked about their feelings on the success in creating and implementing such an extensive training program in a short amount of time, Lynn replied “I think we did a good job. It was not easy, and it had to be done quickly. No one could anticipate a global pandemic, but I think we did the best we could with the time and resources we had. I look forward to seeing where this training leads us in the future.”

Kelly and Lynn have no plans to slow down their cross-training endeavors at GBMC. “As things have slowed, I think there is still a lot of work to be done. In surge planning, we felt the best thing was to perform real-time situational learning because we were on a time crunch. We brought a lot of technicians up to speed, but I think we can expand that even further with our nurses,” Kelly said.

GBMC HealthCare is incredibly proud and extremely grateful for Lynn, Kelly, 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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