Nursing Students and Faculty Answer Call, Join Local Hospitals in COVID Crisis
Students and faculty in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas have joined the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis in Northwest Arkansas, answering the call at local hospitals to help communities stay healthy and fight the pandemic.
"Several of our faculty and students who already work in hospitals and clinics are helping to prepare for the anticipated increase in patients," said Susan Patton, head of the school of nursing. "We removed students from clinical rotations as physical distancing was recommended. However, some healthcare facilities have employed our nursing students to answer phones and screen visitors, and some of our graduate students are completing clinical assignments as facilities allow."
Lindsey Sabatini, a U of A critical care instructor and coordinator, said several adjunct professors are working at COVID-19 screening clinics around Northwest Arkansas.
Sabatini, who is a nurse practitioner for a local medical doctor, is conducting tele-visits for the clinics. She said moving online is a new concept for most providers and patients, but she's helping ease that process.
Sabatini is working at Washington Regional Medical Center's expanded COVID-19 screening facility in the coming weeks as demand continues to grow. Nurses working at the center are screening patients through a call-in hotline and at the clinic.
Maisie Burns, prepped for work.
Nursing students are also assisting with coronavirus care. Maisie Burns, a nursing student scheduled to graduate in December 2020, has been working at the Washington Regional COVID-19 testing clinic. She also conducts employee and visitor screenings at the hospital's entrances.
In the clinic, she's doing clerical work in the lab — logging tests, packing test kits and labeling samples. At screening stations, protocol is to take the temperature of every person entering the hospital and asking them a few questions about their health.
"I haven't worked in a regular health care setting, let alone during a pandemic," she said. "Everyone from the physicians to the techs have been welcoming and supportive, though."
Burns said working in the COVID clinic provides her with purpose and direction.
"I knew sitting at home would be hard when all I wanted to do was be involved in helping," she said. "I could get out of the house, help where I was able to, and learn something from this historic time in healthcare."
Kathryn Stevens, a student in the U of A Doctor of Nursing Practice program, is using her nursing skills as well, working in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. This week her shifts involved coordinating and leading nurses caring for high-risk patients.
Mike Vinson is another graduate student who's helping during the crisis. Vinson is a full-time student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program with a focus in family practice. He's also a part-time adjunct clinical instructor for the U of A and part-time operating room nurse for Mercy Hospital, and she recently began helping Washington Regional with their screening process part-time.
Vinson is screening patients, visitors, and staff who enter Washington Regional. Since Mercy has restricted elective surgeries, he's been asked help in the intensive care unit since he has experience in that setting.
"I couldn't imagine not offering my services during a great time of need," he said. "This pandemic has demonstrated to me how much we truly rely on others in this industry. I've seen how important it is for all of us to work as a team and collaborate to find innovative solutions to unique problems," he said.
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