During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been playing a larger-than-ever role in response to the crisis.
So, Dr. Mary Beck, the Chief Nursing Officer for University of Missouri Health Care and a professor at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, spoke about some of the ways nurses have been trained and are continuing to get prepared for a potential COVID-19 surge.
This is an excerpt from KBIA’s daily talk show, the Check-In with Janet Saidi, on Wednesday, April 15. You can hear the full show – here.
Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.
Janet Saidi: Mid-Missouri hasn’t seen the kinds of surge in cases, yet, that we are seeing in big cities. What are you expecting in case surge, and how are you preparing nurses and others for a potential case surge?
Dr. Mary Beck: So, there’s been tremendous work done. So, we already have identified the patients that are in house that are either COVID positive or that its pending results.
We have a specific, for our COVID positive patients, a specific area that they’re cared for [in]. We have an ICU unit and a progressive care unit that is a very secure area, and then we have staff that, obviously, have been trained to manage these patients. So, our staff on our critical care unit.
It’s a pulmonary disease primarily, if they are in the ICU, and so, we have nurses that are well-versed, very comfortable taking care of this type of patient because they do in their - for all the patients that we care for that would come into that unit.
The other thing that we’ve done is really say, “If the big surge hits, how would we add beds? Where would be the next units that we would go to? How would we staff those?”
So, we have a very comprehensive plan that moves throughout the organization to make sure that we have enough critical care beds, ventilators, of course, our ongoing personal protective equipment that includes the masks, gowns and gloves.
And then we have also looked at – for patients that do not have COVID, that we still need to care for, to make sure that we have adequate beds for them.
We know that if any of our staff gets sick, if it becomes very widespread in our community, which we know we’ve heard on the East Coast, that we would then have also done – trained over 700 staff that could also step in. Perhaps they are working in our clinics now, in a research center, in other roles of nursing – and we would pull those staff in.
So, we’ve already gone through – had over 700 of those staff members be trained, that they can come back in and assist and feel competent and comfortable, and we have staffing plans to match all of that.
Janet Saidi: What is this like for nurses organizing operations and responding to this pandemic in a rural setting?
Dr. Mary Beck: You know, they are all in different levels of preparation, but there are so many resources. So, the Missouri Hospital Association has worked extensively to find best resources, and, I will say, there is a great deal of sharing among all facilities of things that are working, that we can share with each other. So, our staffing plans.
We shared, I think In late march, we actually presented a webinar for nurse leaders across the state, through the Missouri Hospital Association, on our staff plan – what are those things to take into consideration?
So, that was open to anyone, any nurse leader across the state. And really to think about the opportunities for creating labor pools. How would you look to perhaps even bring in retired nurses? Or other health care providers and professional nurses? And then what could the training look like?
Production on The Check-In is done by KBIA’s Kristofor Husted with assistance from Zia Kelly, Madison Conti and Hannah France.