Gut Check | Friday, April 3, 2020
COVID-19 Frontline Perspective From an SGNA Board Member
With COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases continuing to rise, SGNA Board Member Judy Currier, BSN RN CGRN HN-BC, discusses her experience working at The Valley Hospital, located in Bergen County, New Jersey. According to the State of New Jersey Department of Health, at the time of publishing, Bergen County holds the top rank for most cases in the state. In this update, Judy shares how deployment of staff, procedures and daily life continue to change amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Here in Bergen County, we are ground zero for COVID-19 cases. Valley Hospital has been very proactive regarding this pandemic. All elective cases have been cancelled until April 13, 2020. This may change, depending on when we peak with the virus. All endoscopy procedures are vetted on an individual basis and approved by our Chief Medical Officer (CMO). As of now, all of our patients are considered to be positive for COVID-19, regardless of their current status. All patients needing upper body procedures are intubated. Colon procedures are at the discretion of the anesthesiologists for sedation. Our chief anesthesiologist says best practice is to intubate these patients for their procedures.
Approximately two-thirds of our staff — who are fabulous, by the way — have been redeployed to other functions in the hospital. They are assigned according to their skill set. The remainder of staff are being rotated through a skeleton schedule to keep endoscopy staffed. The hospital organization has given the administration the ability to award furloughed staff "resiliency days." This is designed to keep staff paid without using their own paid time off (PTO).
Of course, the anxiety is palpable as soon as you enter the hospital. Right now in Bergen County, we are under social distancing and being told to shelter-in-place. The first Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) drive-by testing site was set up right down the road from the hospital at Bergen County Community College. The first day, over 600 people were tested. We also have drive-through screening, where three of my RNs have been deployed. Hotlines are another deployment area for my staff. All nurses who transferred to endoscopy from critical care areas have been sent to those areas, i.e., the emergency room. Our situation is changing daily, as the needs of the hospital change.
For information on clinical guidance, peer insight and information sharing, helpful resources, and more during these difficult times, visit the SGNA COVID-19 Resources page.
If you are an SGNA member and would like to share your experience working in the time of COVID-19, please reach out to SGNA at firstname.lastname@example.org.