Nurses Go Beyond Call of Duty to Protect Patients and Other Staff
June 24, 2020
Isolating an area of the ICU to treat only those patients with COVID-19 is no easy task. Infectious Disease Specialists Aditi Swami, MD, and Minaxi Rathod, MD, Intensivist Program Director Utkal Patel, MD, and Director of Critical Care Services Shanna Reynolds, RN, CCRN, led their team in doing exactly that at Texoma Medical Center.
“The unit is temporarily sealed off and separated from the rest of the hospital,” Reynolds says. “We designated 20 negative-pressure rooms from the 32-bed general ICU. There is one way in and one way out, and a safe transport route from the ER to the COVID-19 unit was created.”
Safety Measures and “Bundled” Care
Reynolds says the nurses in this specialty unit are operating in a wholly unique way. “Once they come on duty, they do not leave the unit. The nurses themselves are providing ‘bundled’ care. They have taken on the role of other ancillary team members. They are taking on the tasks such as cleaning patient rooms every four hours, performing EKGs, drawing blood, delivering meal trays and keeping patients’ families connected,” she explains. “This minimizes the amount of people going in and out of the unit, and protects other hospital staff from potential exposure.
“These nurses and therapists working the unit are so dedicated. They want to make sure they are doing their part to protect the community,” Reynolds says. “They have been proactive and diligent in their practices.”
Additional patient rooms in the General ICU unit have also been converted to negative pressure rooms, where special machines filter the air and remove it from the building. This helps prevent cross-contamination and makes it possible to expand the COVID unit capacity if needed.
Reynolds says the hospital has a separate intensive care area within the cardiovascular unit and that they are still treating non-COVID-19 patients. She advises if you are experiencing possible heart attack or stroke symptoms, to call 9-1-1 immediately. “Some people may be afraid to go to the hospital, even if they are experiencing life-threatening health issues,” she says. “But TMC is set up to safely take care of patients experiencing all health issues, and you should not delay seeking care.”