During the COVID-19 pandemic's uncertain times, revising the standard operating procedures for delivering care to patients required robust attention. In addition, providing a safe environment for all employees across the UMiami Health system required deliberate and sustained efforts as leaders sought opportunities to provide supportive and compassionate care for their employees. Without a resilient and healthy workforce, the mission of delivering exceptional, quality care to patients would prove challenging. Therefore, the organization remained steadfast in its objective to minimize the burden of the pandemic on its care providers. The protection of each employee and their family necessitated reliable, valid, and readily available interventions across the health system.
Rafic Warwar, the chief administrative officer at the Lennar Foundation Medical Center on the Coral Gables campus, was intently observing the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020. “We were closely monitoring how the coronavirus crisis was evolving, hour by hour, and we made an early decision that we needed a convenient way to communicate with our employees and help them get through what is turning out to be a long journey,” said Warwar.
Early in the pandemic, APRNs and nurses across campuses joined forces to protect employees, and therefore their patients, by establishing a COVID-19 Employee Hotline resource. Nicole Gottlieb, an advanced practice registered nurse in the UHealth Preoperative Assessment Center at Lennar, led the day-to-day activities of the university’s employee-dedicated hotline effort. As part of the effort, new workflows and processes were established to guide employees in mitigating risks and expediently accessing health care services when needed. The hotline was one of the first centered around employees that was launched at an academic health center in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees from across the University reached out to the hotline if they suspected that they had been exposed to the virus or were experiencing symptoms. Depending on the nursing assessment, the hotline staff recommended that they contact their physician, receive COVID-19 testing, or self-isolate. The team of approximately 20 UHealth nurses rotated through the call center and utilized complex algorithms to determine individualized approaches to testing. This unique approach was modelled in other institutions to address employee screening for COVID-19. The nursing staff became expert in phone triage, nursing assessment by phone, and recommendations for testing and further engagement with health professionals. As a result, the call center received as many as 300 calls daily from health care workers, essential team members, and faculty and staff members. Many employee callers were complex, and Gottlieb noted that: “Some of the people calling were sick and afraid. It was our role to provide guidance and clinical expertise.” In addition to phone triage, the nurses expedited laboratory results and reviewed data, working diligently to assure timely information for staff. This initiative also assured that staff could return to work safely. They needed to assure a healthy workforce so that they could continue to deliver compassionate, evidence-based, and complex care on behalf of patients. A fast bond formed between the call center team who accomplished so much in a short period of time. [Insert photo of call center team with T-shirts]. Because of the significant success of this initiative, Jessica MacIntyre and interprofessional colleagues published their efforts in the prestigious journal, Academic Pathology, further attesting to the cutting-edge efforts of nursing, nursing support staff, advanced practice nursing, physician, and clinical and operational staff leadership during the era of COVID-19.
A How-to Guide to Building a Robust SARS-CoV-2 Testing Program at a University-Based Health System. Nimer SD, Chapman J, Reidy L, Alencar A, Wu Y, Williams S, Pagan L, Gjolaj L, MacIntyre J, Triana M, Vance B, Andrews D, Fan YS, Zhou Y, Martinez O, Garcia-Buitrago M, Cray C, Tekin M, McCauley JL, Ruiz P, Pagan P, Lamar W, Alencar M, Bilbao D, Prieto S, Polania M, Suarez M, Lujardo M, Campos G, Morris M, Shukla B, Caban-Martinez A, Kobetz E, Parekh DJ, Jorda M.Acad Pathol. 2020 Sep 30;7:2374289520958200. doi: 10.1177/2374289520958200.