The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined courage and commitment.
Truth be told, every year could be considered the International Year of the Nurse, as the World Health Organization designated 2020. These extraordinary individuals are vital frontline workers, displaying courage, caring and commitment to their patients every day throughout HCA Healthcare.
Nurses throughout our organization have consistently shown their resilience and willingness to go above and beyond for their patients and each other. Still, COVID-19 has presented some added challenges.
The Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health
Recognizing the strain that colleagues have been dealing with since the onset of the pandemic, HCA Healthcare has strengthened efforts to provide support services. Nurse Care (800-480-1234), a free and confidential mental health service, is available 24/7 for hospital-based nurses. The program is designed to help nurses manage anxiety, balance life and work concerns and responsibilities, practice self-care, and handle common nursing-related issues.
Further, the organization is also promoting Psych Hub, a free COVID-19 mental health resource created by a national coalition, the Beacon Health Wellbeing Program. It provides a wide range of confidential counseling (in-person, by phone or via video) and support services, all designed to help colleagues with the emotional side of their work.
Working with Heart
One emergency department nurse at TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, exemplified unwavering compassion when he consoled a 78-year-old man suffering from an aortic dissection. For hours, Judson Harville, RN, BSN, CCRN, eased his patient’s concerns and helped him FaceTime with his granddaughter as his son made the long-distance drive to the hospital. Throughout the patient’s final hours prior to his unfortunate passing, his caretakers never left his side.
“Jud stayed with the patient, held his hand, talked with him and prayed with him so that he didn’t have to be alone,” says Brittani Downey, MBA, BSN, RN, director of emergency services at Skyline. “It was one of the sweetest things I’ve seen in my nursing career.
“It isn’t every day that you witness a healthcare provider praying at the bedside of a patient,” Brittani says. “Jud did what, I believe, any great nurse would do. He treated the patient like he was his family member, not just his patient. We learned that the patient had lost his wife 10 years prior. He really missed her and stated that he was ready to be reunited with her.”
A Vial of Compassion
Love also motivates Amy Doblado, BSN, RN, CCRN, who works in the ICU at Medical City Denton in Denton, Texas. She often memorializes patients who have passed away by creating a keepsake for their survivors. Amy prints out an EKG of the patient’s heartbeat prior to their death and places it in a laboratory tube. Recently, Amy made three of these vials — she calls them “heartbeats in bottles” — to give to the three children of a young COVID-19 patient after he lost his three-week battle with the virus.
“These vials represent me as a nurse in several ways,” Amy says. “First is my empathy. I treat every patient I care for as if they were my own loved one and give them the kind of care I would expect my family to receive.
“Second is my love of the cardiovascular system,” she says. “Third is my servant heart. The little acts I can do to make others’ days just a little better are reward enough. Every shift, I try to do at least one thing to improve someone’s day.”
Nurses who usually work in nonclinical settings are also making the extra effort to help support facilities impacted by a surge in COVID-19 patients. Director of Nursing Advocacy and Leadership Jodi Thurman, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, traveled to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida, during a pandemic surge in mid-July to assist Audrey Stabile, RN, Lawnwood’s director of emergency services, who was new to the position.
“I took over as interim director for an additional week and a half so Audrey could take some much needed vacation time,” says Jodi. “She had a family member pass away during my first week with her, and she had been working 60-plus hours a week due to the high volume of COVID-19 patients.
“I worked as a director of emergency services for six years, so I was very comfortable and happy to be able to step into the role while she was away,” Jodi says. “Our company has the unique ability to pivot to the demands of our front lines.”
“These vials represent me as a nurse in several ways…I treat every patient I care for as if they were my own loved one and give them the kind of care I would expect my family to receive.”
— Amy Doblado, BSN, RN, CCRN, ICU, Medical City Denton in Denton, Texas.
Supporting academic achievement has always been a hallmark of HCA Healthcare. For nurses, that commitment was reinforced by the acquisition in early 2020 of Galen College of Nursing. Galen offers hands-on classes across five campuses — one each in Texas, Florida and Ohio, and two in Kentucky, as well as online programs.
Susie Ponder, RN, BSN, a 44-year-old married mother of two teenagers, embarked on a second medical career eight years after earning her associate’s degree. In late June, she graduated magna cum laude from Galen with her bachelor of science degree.
“It was a personal goal,” Susie says. “I had taken my prerequisites for my bachelor’s degree when I went to nursing school, but I just didn’t pursue it until now.”
The Galen partnership allows HCA Healthcare to focus on its existing nurse workforce, promoting online RN-to-BSN programs, graduate-level nursing education and master’s degrees in nursing education, and nursing and healthcare leadership.
“HCA Healthcare is committed to being the premier career destination for nurses,” says Jane Englebright, senior vice president and chief nurse executive. “Galen’s graduates will help us nurture a pipeline of next-generation nurses and nurse leaders to deliver effective, evidence-based, innovative care to our patients.”
Opportunities for Nurses Abound
The past 16 years have been a professional whirlwind for Heather Stafford, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC. She joined HCA Healthcare in May 2004 as a nursing technician in the emergency department at TriStar Summit Medical Center near Nashville, Tennessee, after completing her clinical rotations in nursing school. This past August, she was promoted to chief nursing officer at the same facility.
The impressive trajectory of Heather’s career reinforces not only the skills she brings to her work, but also the
opportunities HCA Healthcare offers our colleagues — actively assisting nurses in their current positions and also in achieving their professional goals.
Heather says the organization has supported her growth and development in many ways: as a new nurse and a new leader, “and also in my personal life through births and maternity leaves I took with my three children, and through tuition reimbursement for obtaining my master’s degree — and now toward my doctorate.” She says the benefits that come with her job “surpass anything another company could offer. I feel fortunate each day to be supported.”
Heather says she couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
“The face of nursing has and will forever be changed by COVID-19. HCA Healthcare responded by ensuring that we had the appropriate PPE so that we could continue to provide optimum care for our patients.”
— Keisha Arigbe, BSN, RN, RRT, TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.
Yes, we have an app for that
The request: an easier way to connect with one another while also having the tools and advice required for professional development in clinical or leadership disciplines.
The response from HCA Healthcare: Can do.
Nurses can access those connections and tools in the palm of their hands with the new HCA Inspire app. In addition to providing quick access to their schedules, the app (available on both Apple and Android smartphones) offers nurses the chance to recognize excellence, chart professional growth, connect with a mentor and more. Inspire will have even more capabilities than those originally planned for nurses.
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