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Nurses Lead in COVID-19 Testing

New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Nursing staff led in engagement with COVID-19 testing during the pandemic. With the emergence of COVID-19, a sight-devastating infection of the eye known as endophthalmitis has been linked with the virus and Bascom Palmer nurses provided exemplary leadership in screening and care of patients to avoid the potentially serious effects based on early scientific evidence.

Bascom Palmer Nursing staff were at the helm in proactively developing a screening method on the front line with clinical staff, patient access staff, and nurses utilizing clinical judgement to have a seamless approach to screening that served as a model for UHealth. The preadmissions and outpatient team had no experience with COVID testing or swabbing and were trained in nasopharyngeal swabbing. As Viviane Leveille-Charles, BSN, RN, MPH, NE-BC noted: “Nurses and all clinic staff emerged as key leaders in obtaining information on COVID-19 utilizing resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The scientific information was fluid and emerging continuously and our staff were informed and committed to disseminating the information to assure optimal patient care. Our approach was aimed at achieving confidence, comfort, caring, and safeguarding in all aspects of patient care.” Elective admissions were limited, however emergency and urgent surgeries needed to proceed, and all patients required COVID-19 testing prior to surgery.

Another exemplar was the creative development of an approach to COVID-19 screening with emergency department nurses as front line screeners which fully engaged clinical staff and patient access personnel. The emergency department staff also developed a COVID-19 negative pressure room for ophthalmologic patients who needed to be seen in the ED and who may have had COVID-19 exposures or illness. All necessary equipment including a slit lamp, electronic computerized equipment, and PPE were made available through the leadership efforts of the Bascom Palmer emergency nurses. As Utrera noted: “The preadmissions and outpatient team had not previously performed COVID-19 testing or swabbing but were courageous in coming out of their comfort zones and keeping patient care at the forefront to assure our commitment to our vision, mission, and our Nursing Professional Practice Model. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute was a beacon of light.”