Bascom Palmer Eye Institute's reputation as a premier ophthalmology center of excellence has been ranked number one for nineteen consecutive years by both US News and World Report and Ophthalmology Times. Bascom Palmer’s reputation was reaffirmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and staff are committed to exceptional patient outcomes, infection control, and inclusion of the Nursing Professional Practice Model in the care of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute patients. COVID-19 raised complex challenges for the provision of ophthalmology care for patients across all of UHealth/University of Miami Health Systems eye centers: Miami, Coral Gables, Plantation, Palm Beach Garden, and Naples. Optimal care was assured because of committed nursing leadership and interprofessional expertise during the pandemic.
Efforts to enhance Miami's infection control processes and ensure a healthy work environment were an organizational mandate facilitated by Patricia DeStefano, BSN, RN, Infection Control Director at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. DeStefano has 45 years of nursing experience, including critical care and nursing administration roles combined with 30 years in infection prevention and control. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been the recipient of her expertise for the past ten years. A trusted resource, DeStefano focused on empowering staff with the necessary evidence-based guidance to safely care for patients. In the initial phases of the pandemic processes were developed that focused on safely admitting and caring for patients with ocular emergencies. Over time as in-person visits resumed, DeStefano collaborated with other Bascom Palmer leadership, faculty, and staff to restructure how safe, quality, efficient, and personalized care was provided to patients. As an essential aspect of work, DeStefano focused on timely and strategically aimed communication of scientific-based information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for UHealth/University of Miami Health System leaders for dissemination and process changes across all of the eye centers. DeStefano viewed this work as critical to the safety of the staff and, therefore, to patients/families and the entire UHealth community.
The pandemic impacted all patient care processes and all aspects of the workplace environment. Yet, teams were enthusiastically ready and able to provide:
- 24 hour/7 days a week emergency, surgical, and clinic services to all patients requiring eye care and to faculty and staff with health concerns;
- Communication to staff about the dynamic health advisories and their impact;
- Adequate and appropriate protective attire for staff and masks for patients and approved visitors;
- Procedural processes to promote a safe environment including hand hygiene; equipment and environmental cleaning, physical distancing in clinics and waiting rooms, and informational signage in and outside of the facility;
- Screening of patients and staff before entry through restricted doors and restricted access to any COVID positive or symptomatic patient;
- Testing of patients before all procedures;
- Resources to staff, faculty, patients, and their families; and
- Support, coordination, and collaboration with the UMHC leadership's initiatives.
In conjunction with the Bascom Palmer leadership and staff, DeStefano's efforts have offered leadership during the complex times of COVID-19 along with her nursing staff [Insert photo of DeStefano with nursing staff].