The Year of the Nurse: Thank you to nurses leading the COVID-19 response
As we celebrate Nurses Week, we must thank the nurses working so bravely, boldly and relentlessly, in concert with many other caregivers and support staff, to help heal our communities.
The World Health Organization and the American Nurses Association designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse. We are grateful for and humbled by the unwavering dedication to patient care displayed daily by nurses nationwide, as they leave their homes and families to face the greatest global healthcare challenge of our time.
At a time when many patients are isolated from loved ones, nurses have gone above and beyond with acts of compassion to brighten long days of solitude. We’ve seen nurses sing to patients, play games with patients in isolation from the other side of their glass room door, and help patients and families find new and safe ways to connect through windows, virtual visits and prayers.
Indeed, we must all give thanks for our nurses. Healthcare organizations and leaders, however, have a deeper responsibility to remove obstacles and create opportunities for our nurses to experience joy and flourish while caring for our communities. What better way to say thanks than by consistently striving to provide the best work environments possible?
First and foremost, we have been working hard to address caregivers’ physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs during this pandemic, with practices and benefits like pay protection throughout the crisis, extended dependent care and assistance funds to help pay for essentials like rent and groceries if they are facing a particularly difficult time.
Another important issue we must continue to address is burnout. Especially at a time like this, with nurses potentially facing heavier workloads and more complex work environments, we must employ solutions to burnout, such as:
• Modernizing care delivery models to better apply to how nurses work now, specifically by empowering nurses to lead the transformation and directly shape their work environment
• Equipping nurses to practice to their full clinical potential by providing them with more support
• Caring for our caregivers, taking into account mind, body and spirit. We can do this, for example, by providing physical spaces for reflection and rejuvenation and ensuring caregiver access to chaplain services.
Our organization has also created a Nursing Center of Excellence to continue building a community -- with tools and resources -- where nurses can thrive as leaders.
Healthcare is a rapidly-evolving industry, but one thing that will never change is the high level of compassion, dedication and care that nurses provide to patients every day. To nurses everywhere: Thank you.
Terrie Fontenot is chief nursing officer of Ascension Sacred Heart.