The UHealth/ University of Miami Health System staff is committed to the extraordinary care of patients every day—and consistently committed during COVID-19. The overarching goal of maintaining a safe environment, conveying a sense of a safe care commitment, and building confidence in all who entered the institution was essential. Although patients and providers enthusiastically transitioned to a telehealth approach, inpatient care was a critical need for the institution and ensuring screening pathways for employees and patients was critical.
An intensive screening process was implemented at entrances on the main campus and all satellite locations. Staff members, patients, and visitors entering any UHealth building were methodically evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms to minimize the risk of virus transmission within the facilities. Screening teams, including professional and ancillary staff from various departments, underwent extensive competency-based training to ensure a rigorous and consistent process. Managers and site directors had a visible presence to answer questions and support the screening staff.
The screening protocols, which required the coordination and cooperation of several hospital departments, were developed and implemented in March 2020. Nicole Doell, MSN, RN, AMB-BC, Executive Director of Clinical Operations for UMHC/SCCCAmbulatory Clinics, was instrumental in the process of initiation of the competency-based training for those serving as screeners, determining staffing needs, and coordinating scheduling. In addition, Doell worked with Sean Gill and the Hospital Operations and Facilities team to ensure standardization of tent placements and security coverage at entry points. Doell credited many colleagues for the collaborative effort, including Central Supply services who had multiple responsibilities. These responsibilities included ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment, the updating of the EMR by the Information Technology group to reflect documentation of the screening algorithm data, and Infection Control to support evidence-based best practices. Simultaneously, work to ensure a standard operating procedure for adapting the visitor policy to limit COVID-19 exposure across the health system was a key factor in assuring safety for patients and staff.
Jessica McIntyre, Executive Director, Clinical Operations, and Maritza Alencar, Executive Director, Clinical Operations, Oncology Service Line, ensured Advanced Practice Provider (APP) staffing of the screening tents and managed communication updates that pertained to the outside screening process. For example, employee ID badges were required. In addition, each person entering the facility was provided a new mask, asked to use hand sanitizer, and instructed on social distancing procedures before entering. If an individual required further assessment based on the screening process criteria, the APP lead coordinated this additional level of care.
The safety of staff, patients, and visitors is an ongoing priority at UHealth/University of Miami Health System. The optimal level of commitment during the pandemic to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission exemplified the alignment with the tenets of the UHealth Nursing Professional Practice Model.