Critical Nurse Educators come in large aiding with COVID-19 efforts

We all know that the best decisions are the ones based on accurate information and solid research. At GGH, our team of Clinical Nurse Educators work to support our clinical staff by pulling together the best sources of knowledge for evidence-based decision making in order to properly respond to the emerging threat of COVID-19.

As COVID-19 emerged back in February, with all the unknowns that came with it, our Educators began to field numerous inquiries from front-line staff, resource nurses, and directors of the various departments. The team worked together to begin answering questions such as: how could we keep staff and patients safe? What were best practices for use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in various areas of the hospital?

It was the job of the Educators to ‘ask the hard questions.’ They needed to question every step to make sure it was best practice, based on the information we knew. The team quickly planned and implemented training materials about PPE for the front line staff, including a video, handouts and posters. The Educators were present on the clinical units to provide one-to-one support as well as providing hands-on training on mock code blues, or cardiac arrests, taking into account potential COVID-19 risks. While on the units, the Educators would circulate to our huddles, brief meetings of staff working that day, to share important information to keep the clinical staff up to date on the many constantly changing processes. Most of all, our Educators supported staff and fielded their questions in an effort to help them understand the decisions and feel safe in an ever-evolving environment.

During the initial phase of the pandemic, the Educators were tasked to help with much of the planning required to get areas of the hospital prepared for a potential patient surge. This involved supporting the conversion of our Day Surgery unit to a new medical unit called ‘3 East and PACU/ICU B’ as well as implementing new red and green zones in the Emergency Department. By developing guidelines for decision making for these zones, the Educators helped keep potential COVID-19 positive patients separate from the others.

The team also helped to efficiently update policies and procedures such as the Code Blue policy, developed medical directives, patient order sets, and protocols. One such change was the ‘pandemic screens’ which involved educating staff about a change in documentation in order to better capture where COVID patients were located in the Hospital.

Further, in collaboration with our team in Human Resources, the Educators worked to quickly deliver in-person, small-group training in a COVID-safe way for the new staff hired to help respond to the pandemic, especially to those in the new job category of Health Care Aide.

The new demands from COVID-19 had to be handled while still balancing the regular information requests Educators are always busy fielding, mostly centred on nursing practice. During this crisis, the Educators did what they always do and provided reliable information support to their interdisciplinary colleagues. A key lesson learned from COVID-19 for this team is the importance of staying pandemic-ready.

We are thankful for the expertise and dedication of our Educators. We believe there is no better antidote to panic than concrete information.

This story originated on Guelph General Hospital’s Facebook page on July 6th, 2020 as part of its #behindthemask series to share how the Hospital is working hard to protect patients and visitors from #COVID19.

Missing from photo are Stephanie D. and Nicole G..