Nurses play a critical role in the fight against COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact clinical teams around the world, care team members are adjusting to a new normal as their roles evolve in the midst of the crisis. Perhaps no other care team role has experienced more change during the COVID-19 era than the nurse. To nobody’s surprise, nurses have risen to the occasion to care for patients in new ways. To celebrate National Nurses Week 2020 and the critical role nurses play in keeping our communities safe and healthy, we’ll be recognizing some of PerfectServe’s outstanding nurse leaders and sharing their perspectives on how nursing has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julie MillsJulie Mills, RN, BSN, MBA

With 18 years of experience as a nurse, Julie has worked in many capacities sharing her clinical expertise, including in the US Air Force as a Unit Coordinator. Currently, Julie is a Senior Clinical Solutions Executive at PerfectServe, where she serves as a clinical advisor to teams across the company. She also practices at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Administration degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Nurses are now the primary emotional support for patients and families.

“I’ve been a nurse for 18 years and currently practice a few days every month at an academic medical center that also serves as the region’s only Level I Trauma Center. COVID-19 brings a heightened sense of awareness to all that we do—checking temps when you walk in the door, wearing masks, and being mindful of supplies. Families aren’t allowed to visit, so they’re calling us more for updates about their loved ones, and the emotional support we provide becomes more critical to the patient.

Nurses have always been the primary patient caregiver at the bedside, but in a crisis, their role is expanded. Without families at the bedside, the nurse is the all-day, everyday support system. Beyond providing care, nurses also step up to be the listening ear, the conversationalist, and the hand holder. In rapidly changing clinical situations, the nurse’s clinical acumen and intuition are essential to managing care and communications with other team members.”   

Mary PiepenbrinkMary Piepenbrink, RN, BSN, MBA

With more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Mary has served both as a nurse and a leader in information technology software and service solutions. Currently, she is the Vice President of Sales, Lightning Bolt, where she supports caregivers and helps hospitals and health systems improve their operations, reduce costs, and counteract provider burnout.

New Protection Protocols and a Rapid-Fire Approach

“This is unprecedented for most nurses; most do not have experience beyond routine infection prevention standards and practices. Some specialists mask, gown, and glove up when they care for known infectious patients, but typically that is a careful, thoughtful, measured approach. With COVID-19, nurses are doing this in long stretches and seeing patients rapid-fire. Nurses aren’t just concerned about the hard mental and physical work caring for patients that they normally do—they are fearful about transmission to other patients, concerned about the health of their coworkers, and of course, have enormous stress about bringing the virus home to their families. As they do what they do best—triage, adapt, multitask, worry—I can’t but help wonder what effect this will have on our profession long term. I check in on my clinician friends—nurses, doctors, pharmacists—to try and support them by listening and providing encouragement. Many of us feel helpless to do more.”

Mark Denny, BSNMark Denny, BSN 

Currently a Clinical Consultant at PerfectServe, Mark assists healthcare organizations as they implement PerfectServe’s Clinical Communication & Collaboration solutions. Mark worked in clinical informatics before transitioning to healthcare IT consulting.

Nurses are receiving the recognition they deserved all along.

“The presence of a nurse has a critical impact in any clinical setting, but even more so at this time. Right now, nurses are truly practicing the emergency alert responses they are taught and hope to never use. Nurses, in general, are frequently exposed to pathogens, bugs, volatile patient situations, staff shortages, and endless documentation, all the while going unnoticed for their work on a day to day basis. This crisis has brought to light many of the dangerous situations nurses willingly walk into every day, and they are now receiving the recognition they deserve. My work doesn’t take me to the bedside anymore, but my contributions make it easier for nursing staff to communicate with their co-workers and on-call physicians while making a positive impact on patient care.”

Celebrating National Nurses Week 2020

National Nurses Week 2020 is quite different from those we’ve celebrated before. Across all of PerfectServe, we have the privilege of serving some of the country’s leading healthcare organizations, which includes the clinical teams delivering care on the front lines of this crisis. Today, and every day, we are thankful for the courageous work of nurses and all members of the care team. Thank you for your commitment to your patients and communities!