Seven registered nurses at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital were recently recognized with DAISY Awards for their extraordinary patient care during the Covid-19 pandemic surge in December
Kali Gutierrez, Sadie Coursen, Laura Ward, Marissa Lindsey, Jamie Smith, Cassidi Ladely, and Jessi Evans are members of the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit and ambulatory surgery teams. They were then asked to serve as intensive care unit nurses while the hospital saw a surge in COVID-19 patients in the ICU this past December.
Leanna Wynn, Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer at JMH, says that the nurses had to quickly adapt to the emergency situation for staffing and the influx of patients: “We were experiencing a COVID-19 surge and we did not have enough ICU beds or ICU nurses to provide care to the critically ill COVID-19 patient population. These nurses and their families made sacrifices so they could work 12-hour shifts, night shifts and weekend shifts during the holiday season so our patients could receive care. They had to quickly learn new drugs such as sedation and paralytics and ventilator management, along with new skills, such as pressure injury prevention and central line-associated bloodstream infection prevention. Yet all of these nurses’ patients received excellent care with zero catheter-associated urinary tract infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections and zero falls.”
R.N. Jamie Smith, said it was a difficult time to shift into unknown territory at the hospital to provide the care for long hours and during the ever-changing environment of the pandemic: “It was absolutely incredible to watch [my fellow nurses] kind of blossom and learn things and understand things that they had never done before. We had nurses taking care of patients on ventilators who had never even touched a ventilator. We had nurses that were hanging all of these medications that they had never even heard of before. It was a big mental strain to try and remember everything, and it was very overwhelming but everybody did it with such grace. I am just beyond happy to be a part of the team with them.”
Smith says that one of the most difficult things for all of the team members was the extremely long shift work for several weeks on end. She says many missed the holidays with their families to provide patients care in an extremely difficult situation: “With the nursing shortage here and everywhere, we really had to step up and work extra days. There were times when I was working 5-6-7 days in a row before I would get a day off. I would do it again in a heartbeat for the good of the patients and to help out my fellow nurses. They all stepped up and did the exact same thing. That was really hard to be away from our families for that long, especially around the holidays. With the pandemic, our [extended] ICU opened the week of Christmas, so many of us missed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and every day in between. Trying to find balance between being here at the hospital and being at home over the holidays, I think was probably one of the harder things that everybody had to do.”
Smith says the other difficult part of this time for all the nurses was delivering bad news to patients’ families. She says that with any type of care, getting to know patients and their families is a part of the job, and delivering difficult or bad news is never easy. It was especially difficult seeing the pain the pandemic caused first hand.
All seven nurses received high marks during their time as ICU nurses both from the hospital’s administration and from patients and their families for their bedside manner and care.
Smith says she feels that her and her fellow nurses were proud to be recognized for all of their sacrifices and hard work during what was an extremely difficult and challenging time for everyone.