It didn’t take long for Joe to earn a certain reputation around TriStar Summit Medical Center.
“If it is an unpleasant task, I am typically the first person to jump in and offer to do it,” Joe says. “Then it’s easier to say, ‘Come on, guys, give me a hand with this.’”
Whether it’s tackling a difficult task or lifting spirits, he’s become the go-to guy. In the military, he learned the valuable lesson that there is no job too big or too small. He carries that with him into the civilian healthcare sector. Joe served five years in the U.S. Army as a platoon medic and squad leader, and another five in the U.S. Army Reserves. He joined HCA Healthcare more than a year and a half ago.
“If you want to get things accomplished, clean the floors, take out the trash, run a code. I’ll never ask someone else to do something I am not willing to do,” he says.
Joe’s military training even helped him acclimate to wearing personal protective equipment all day, a daunting daily routine for many care teams.
“I think my general baseline for being uncomfortable is a little higher,” he says. “We would have to train doing everything in heavy masks, and that set a precedent for the worst it was ever going to be — and it helps you mentally prepare yourself.”
COVID-19 has drastically changed everything for nurses serving in the medical intensive care unit (MICU). Joe developed an approach to entering a patient’s room known as “backward planning.” To ensure he makes the most out of every trip into a COVID-19 patient’s room, everything has to be right the first time, because it’s difficult to return.
“Gown up, and make sure the room is perfect so you don’t forget anything. I think, ‘I know what needs to be in the room, so what are the steps I need to take to ensure I make it happen?’”
Joe has also called on his military training to maintain an even calmer presence for patients and their families under these unusual circumstances.
“We literally became patients’ only contact with the outside world,” he says. “It was hard on patients, their families and us. Families think it is the worst situation; patients can’t breathe, and we have to be the calming influence on everyone, even if we are also freaking out.”
Paige Whitaker, director of critical care services at TriStar Summit Medical Center, says Joe is dedicated to leading his team in providing excellent patient care.