Outpatient Surgery Magazine - Subscribers

Healing is Coming - February 2021 - Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Outpatient Surgery Magazine, providing current information on Surgical Services, Surgical Facility Administration, Outpatient Surgery News and Trends, OR Excellence and more.

Issue link: http://magazine.outpatientsurgery.net/i/1335682

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Page 60 of 67

nurses donned in full PPE treating seas of patients on death's dark doorstep. Yet COVID-19 has forever changed our center, and brought extreme challenges that were often difficult to meet. We don't have HR specialists or multidisciplinary committees instructing us on what we can and cannot do. Our COVID-19 information comes from Google research that starts from the CDC and filters down through various governing bodies and ASC message boards. At times, the ever-changing COVID-19 recom- mendations feel overwhelming. CDC recommenda- tions become state mandates that become city man- dates that are then labeled and enforced as "strongly recommended." We have to do our homework, write our policies and perpetually stay up to date. Despite our city's presence on lists of most highly infected areas in the nation, a significant segment of our community sees masking as a violation of their civil rights. This has made what had traditionally been a very happy and easy-going environment at our center a more confrontational and stressful one. We've strictly enforced our mask-wearing policy since March. To alleviate some of the patient push- back, we've posted multiple signs that are easy to read, fun in their approach and clear in our expecta- tion that a mask must be worn — and worn correct- ly — in our facility. We're also clear in our expecta- tions during pre-op calls and while screening patients before they enter our facility. Yet, mask- wearing is an ongoing issue that we have to police. Staffing has been a constant concern. Unlike large hospitals, if three or four of our staff members test positive at one time for COVID-19, we have no resource pool to pull from or FEMA workers to step in to take their place. We have to cancel sur- geries and postpone treatments that are often time sensitive. Since March, we have required and enforced our staff to wear a mask at all times while working. We've stressed ad nauseum the impor- tance of social distancing and masking when they're away from our center, and remind them to be hypervigilant about reporting new-onset changes in their health. But even the most well-thought-out policies cannot prevent exposure outside our facili- ty or unintended exposures in our facility. In November, we lost Janine Jones, a 58-year-old nurse, to COVID (see "Major Milestone" on page 16). The effect on our staff has been humbling, scary and overwhelmingly heartbreaking. She was an inspiring presence here for five years, a favorite of patients and staff. The incredible void she has left among our tight-knit team is felt daily. Our CEO is not seen as a suit who passes through to make an appearance. Rather, he's a leader who stops by often, knows our names, shares our concerns, our laughs and our triumphs. Because of this, his decisions and responsibilities are not weighted by the bottom line but by a deep obligation of doing right by the people who depend on him for a paycheck. In April, when even a masked exposure meant 14 days of mandatory quar- antine for everyone involved, he chose to split our staff and providers into two groups working oppo- site weeks of each other, hoping to keep a large group exposure a less likely occurrence. Instead of cutting our paychecks in half or furloughing staff, he continued to pay us even when they were home. We were fortunate to have such a situation but, with medical facilities furloughing staff every- where around us, we recognized how tenuous even the best situation can be. To those who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight, our worries might seem inconse- quential and unimportant. By no means do we think our situation is awful. But for our patients who have bladder cancer, testicular cancer or even a kidney stone, our center offers them a place to be treated quickly and with less worry of being exposed to the many COVID-19 patients currently overwhelming larger hospitals. And, in addition to reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our patients and visi- tors, our center also serves to reduce the burden on area hospitals and emergency centers. Like most small businesses during the COVID era, our center looks much different than it did a year ago. Many things remain beyond our control, which is a heavy weight to bear. Our story will continue to be told as we remain committed to delivering safe, efficient, patient-centered care each day. OSM Ms. Austin (eaustin@amarillourology.com) is nurse manager at AUA Surgical Center in Amarillo, Texas. F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • O U T P A T I E N T S U R G E R Y . N E T • 6 1

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