The past year has been one of the bleakest, most harrowing, and emotionally exhausting periods in recent history — particularly for our nation’s frontline healthcare workers. But, despite several months of unspeakable challenges and an uncertain future, these professionals have continued showing up, often risking their own wellbeing to care for those in need.
From providing palliative care to patients with severe cases of COVID-19 to assisting women giving birth and helping treat all manner of conditions amidst the deadly pandemic, these healthcare heroes have given a new meaning to the term patient experience.
In honor of National Patient Experience Week, we’re highlighting a few examples of healthcare pros going above and beyond:
Keeping Patients Connected to Family from Afar
As COVID-19 ripped its way across the world and much of the country shut down, patients with the most severe cases fought for their lives in crowded ICUs (intensive care unit) without family by their sides. Many people didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye.
Fortunately, some hospitals sought to change that.
Intensive care teams — who were already spread thin and often working overtime — made sure patients had an opportunity to see their families via iPad as often as possible. They also prioritized virtual visits before intubation because they knew once patients reached that point, their chance of survival dropped significantly. And no matter the outcome, great doctors and nurses recognize the importance a patients’ loved ones play in their care.
“As the ICU team makes ready, there's a key step we mustn't forget," Dr. Mark Shapiro of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital shared on Twitter. "At first, he says ‘No,’ but we encourage him. The nurse brings in the iPad. With the last air in his shattered lungs, he says goodbye to his family. Over an internet connection."
Providing Top Quality Labor, Delivery, and Neonatal Care
For many of us, the world seemed to stop turning once the pandemic took hold. But inside labor and delivery rooms, life continues.
“The deliveries are still coming, and we are going the extra mile to help our patients make joyful, lifelong memories despite what’s going on outside the walls of their hospital rooms,” said Lynda Tyer-Viola, VP of nursing at the Pavilion for Women, last year.
Many women who’ve given birth during the pandemic entered the hospital especially anxious and fearful. But dedicated healthcare teams quickly put patients and their partners at ease, ensuring the best possible birth experiences.
And then there’s the story of Yanira Soriano and her son Walter.
Yanira was admitted to South Shore University Hospital with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator before giving birth to her son. Although she nearly died twice, nurses reminded Yanira her son was waiting on her and encouraged her to hang on for her newborn.
Earlier this month, Yanira and Walter returned to the hospital to celebrate Walter’s first birthday with the care team that saved their lives. “All I asked for was to save my son,” Yanira said in an article for Newsday. “But you also saved me."
Caring for Patients Virtually
Telehealth and other virtual tools have exploded during the pandemic as a safe and convenient way for clinicians to address patient symptoms, consult with patients before refilling prescriptions, follow up on care plans, or determine whether patients need a COVID-19 test.
But how do you provide care with a human touch when you’re not even in the same room? The dedicated doctors at Cleveland Clinic found a way. The IT team built a feature into the organization’s electronic health record to ensure patients who test positive for COVID-19 receive digital touches every day. If positive patients report any concerns, their messages are escalated to their primary care group.
“What's beautiful about that is it actually starts to feel like you've got a digital partner in your healthcare,” said Dr. Adrienne Boissy, Chief Experience Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, in an interview. “I think that has just enormous potential. And we're looking at how we're going to expand that across the enterprise.”
With continuous work toward vaccinating the masses, the future looks more hopeful today than a year ago — and it’s all thanks to the tireless work of our heroic healthcare professionals. This National Patient Experience Week, may we all take time to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned and share gratitude for the light healthcare workers provided during our darkest hours.