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Nurses huddle. Sometimes formally for safety or protocol meetings. Sometimes informally for support and socializing. However, over the last twelve months, huddling became a survival mechanism — both for our patients as we navigated uncharted medical waters, and for ourselves, as we were all tested under physical and emotional burdens none of us could have imagined.
One surprising, and lifesaving, thing that came out of our COVID-19 huddles was innovation. Faced with urgent challenges and no playbook, we turned to each other. When our nurses pooled their collective experience and creativity, the results were often ingenious.
The ingenuity included small things, like using binoculars to enable them to read patient charts without having to enter their rooms, to enormous initiatives, like the nurses on the cardiology floor transforming their unit into an intensive care unit (ICU) in just 48 hours.
At Tufts Medical Center, nurses brought in baby monitors from home so patients could talk to the care team without calling them into the room — an idea that made communication easy while cutting down on the use of a dwindling supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
When the pandemic first hit at MelroseWakefield Hospital, nurses needed to isolate patients who were in beds next to each other. They used plastic tarps to fashion a barrier, allowing staff to zip in and out of each makeshift room.
At Lowell General Hospital, a nurse brainstorm resulted in the elegantly simple idea of installing windows on previously solid doors — giving nurses the ability to quickly and regularly “put eyes” on their patients while letting patients be reassured that even in isolation, they were not alone.
At Home Health Foundation, which brings critical home health and hospice services to patients who are recovering from medical issues, clinicians created a hybrid model of care for its community home health and hospice practice by complementing in-person visits with telehealth consultations involving medical providers, social workers, clergy members, music therapists, and others in order to limit COVID-19 exposure.
Watching our nurses lean on each other (which is really the secret sauce) to improvise lifesaving care for patients of all ages under extraordinary circumstances while lifting each other up has been inspiring. We’ve never been prouder of our profession or our people.
Therese Hudson-Jinks, MSN, RN, NEA- BC
Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer
Chief Patient Experience Officer
Tufts Medical Center & Tufts Children’s Hospital
Diane Farraher-Smith MSN/MBA, RN
Chief Clinical Integration Officer
Home Health Foundation
Deborah L. Cronin-Waelde, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
Senior Vice President Clinical Operations
Chief Nursing Officer
Cecelia Lynch, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE
Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nurse Executive
Lowell General Hospital