One year after the first COVID-19 case in Nashville, and with vaccine distribution rolling out across the state, many of our nursing staff are finally able to take a breath. With hope on the horizon, we asked some of our TriStar bedside nurses to look back at how they provided care for patients over the year, and how they continue to make people feel safe and secure during their visit.
Tamarah, an ER floor nurse, returned from leave at the height of the pandemic and found herself facing a situation no one in the hospital had seen before. “I was scared at first,” she admits. “I have some health conditions that require I wear extreme PPE, so yeah I was nervous. But then I thought that this kind of fear is something our patients may feel when they come to the ER, so I was really able to put myself in their shoes.” Working in the ER, Tamarah was used to providing care to some of the hospital's most vulnerable patients, including those with COVID-19. “I love to help people,” she says. “I see my number one job as always being there for my patients. Even when I wasn't physically in the building I was still trying to make sure patients were okay, and I started to think about what else I could do.”
The solution for Tamarah was to do what she always did — go above and beyond to make her patients feel safe and secure during their hospital visit. That started with humanizing the staff. “I really wanted to make patients feel more comfortable, but sometimes they don't know who we are under all the PPE, and I wanted them to know who I was.” she says.
She began to actively walk each patient through their treatment plan, introducing herself and even making jokes to help them feel comfortable. “Every time I see a patient, I tell them I work for them, and that I'm there to be their advocate, and that really makes the experience personalized. Ultimately that's my goal, that patients don't see themselves as a number. I try to make it fun — I'm halfway to a comedian!” she says.
Taking the time to walk through what to expect every step of the way has made a world of difference to patients who feel anxious at the prospect of visiting the hospital, especially during COVID-19. “I see my role as helping people understand what they need to do to get better and understand what everything is and what it's for. Really making sure they feel supported during the process,” Tamarah says. In addition, she says the pandemic has helped her team grow closer, and that there is a sense of teamwork that she says patients can sense the minute they walk in the door. “We have such a good atmosphere, and our hospital did a great job providing PPE and making sure we feel protected,” she says.
In the year after COVID-19, Tamarah has discovered that even though her attitude towards care hasn't changed, she has gained a deeper understanding of how her patients feel coming to the hospital during a pandemic. By working to create an inclusive atmosphere that emphasizes the human connection, nurses like Tamarah are helping to ease anxiety as the world begins to return to normal.