For more than a year, members of the medical community — particularly nurses — have been at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, bearing the brunt of day-to-day hardships and sacrifices to protect their patients and communities.
LECOM Health’s Corry Memorial Hospital has been fortunate to have avoided the kinds of COVID-19 patient surges seen at larger facilities, but CMH nurses have not been immune to the challenges precipitated by the pandemic. Like healthcare professionals everywhere, CMH nurses have had to adapt to new regulations and practices, often resulting in expanded responsibilities outside the scope of their normal duties.
“Our daily workloads have increased because of things like personal protective equipment requirements, isolation practices for our patients, additional testing that is now required, mandatory state and federal reporting and vaccine distribution,” said Patty White, CMH director of patient care services. “We have also seen an increase in the general needs of COVID patients. For example, nurses now help patients communicate with family members by phone more often than before because of visitor restrictions.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been an ever-evolving situation that has thrown one curveball after another at the medical community. Fortunately for the CMH nursing staff, the hospital has taken steps to anticipate snags in an effort to meet challenges head on as they arise.
More:Officials break ground in 2018 for Corry Hospital addition
“We’ve learned firsthand that being prepared and proactive are important to surviving a pandemic,” said Barbara Nichols, Corry Memorial Hospital CEO. “CMH has a strong Emergency Preparedness Team, which includes several nurses. They’re able to help our nurses be primed and ready for whatever might come our way.”
Still, no amount of vigilance could have prepared the CMH staff for the mental and physical strain brought on by a global health crisis that has touched every facet of life. Nurses have lived and breathed the harsh realities of the pandemic daily and have leaned on each other to cope with the associated stress and fatigue.
“Almost everyone has experienced periods of burnout,” White said. “As nurses, we deal with it by relying not only on our families and friends but also on our ‘hospital family.’ With the family atmosphere at CMH, we do what we can to be there for each other and to provide support.”
That support is vital to ensuring CMH’s nurses are on top of their game to care for the Corry community.
“Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, we still provide the best care we can, even with increased workloads and mandates,” said Ellen Eiss, emergency department nurse manager.
For the nurses of CMH, a job well done is the silver lining to surviving the coronavirus pandemic.
Sheena Baker is a marketing and communications specialist for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.