As COVID-19 restricted hospital visitations across the world, healthcare professionals at Northwell Health worked tirelessly to ensure patients knew they were never alone. With compassion as their motivation, our Northwell heroes on the frontlines quickly developed new ways to help keep patients connected with their families.
Nicole Ciccione, a nurse manager in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Cohen’s Children Medical Center, was moved by one of her colleague’s emails about the work being done at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Inspired to act, Nicole and her team brainstormed different ways that they could help their fellow Northwell team members while improving the patient experience. “I reached out to my surrounding community to ask for toiletries to help our patients look, feel and smell fresh, and for different devices to assist with making virtual connections,” she says. The overwhelming response of donations was a refreshing reminder to her of the impact Northwell has made on the community it serves. With the donation of toiletries, iPads and other electronic devices, team members volunteered to not only connect patients with their families, but to spend time connecting with the patients themselves.
“There have been difficult times, sitting with a patient and their family on FaceTime, while the patient takes their last breath, to happier moments of connecting a patient with their family soon after extubation. For team members, it has been very humbling and rewarding to be able to help out not only patients, but also our LIJ colleagues. It’s connected our teams,” Nicole says, “I am proud to be the nurse manager of an extraordinary team that is willing and ready to help when called on.”
Debra Clifford, director of patient care services at Plainview Hospital, worked remotely during COVID where she found new ways to support her nursing staff and connect with patient families. She says, “The COVID-19 pandemic offered me the opportunity to get back at the bedside and help patients and their families in a different way than my current role. Working from home, I started to make calls to families to alleviate the frontline staff of the overwhelming calls that they were receiving from families. I gave daily updates, connected them with other disciplines in an attempt to stay connected to their loved one in light of a unique situation that echoed ‘no visitors.’” It was these moments on the phone delivering comfort to patients’ families that helped her feel connected even as she herself was away from the hospital. “My inspiration for working remotely soon came from the families that I had the pleasure of talking to each day.”
Marcy Hohorst, a family liaison at Plainview Hospital, also found new ways to deliver care as her Perioperative Unit was temporarily converted into an Intensive Care Unit. Having had experience working as a registered nurse in past mission trips, Marcy was uniquely prepared to deliver comfort and compassion as she helped patients connect to their families virtually. “It was and always will be my honor to have been able to connect families with their loved ones during their brightest moments or their darkest hours. This position was simultaneously meaningful, rewarding and heartbreaking. Someday, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, I will be proud to say, ‘I was the nurse with the iPad.’”
A commitment to health never stops and these individuals, as well as other team members across our organization, have demonstrated that nothing can stop them from providing the care patients and their families need and deserve.