CNO Roundtable 2021

Lessons Learned

Q: What is your assessment of the way the healthcare community responded to the pandemic? What would you do differently?

Raye Burkhardt

Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center

Compared to our peers in technology and business, healthcare has historically been slow to change and innovate. The pandemic has proven that healthcare can innovate and adapt quickly — we have seen hospitals across the country pivot on a dime and mobilize rapidly to accommodate increased census and patient acuity.

As a workforce, we have proven to the world something we have always known: that our frontline clinicians have tremendous heart, resilience and courage, traits that continued to shine in the darkest hours of the pandemic.

Ruby Gill

Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center

In the beginning, there was a lot of frustration around frequently changing recommendations, PPE, and visitor guidelines. Weekly forums with staff and physicians helped to clarify the intent of these changes and eased anxiety. If I could change one thing, it would be the stringent visitor policy. On several occasions, I felt helpless when families couldn’t visit their loved ones. Fortunately, our IT team was able to quickly deploy technology that helps patient families connect virtually with their loved ones.

Katie Hughes

Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare

Despite the disaster- and pandemic-response plans we have in place, it has taken a tremendous amount of work to keep up with challenges like ensuring adequate supplies and nurse staffing; testing patients and employees; and, more recently, coordinating vaccination efforts.

One lesson I’ve learned from this pandemic is never to underestimate the importance of community, or how much stronger we are when we work together. As an organization, we are not alone, and I was impressed by the collaboration and communication between local hospitals, healthcare providers and agencies who have supported one another by sharing supplies, helping with vaccinations and providing hospital beds.

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Erin Keefe

Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center

The pandemic generated constant, rapid change — on any given day, what was true at 8 a.m. would not be the same by noon. Teams had to be exceptionally agile, and the challenges kept evolving. In the beginning, our main challenge was access to supplies, especially PPE. By the time we had our third surge, the challenge was a massive influx of very sick patients, exceeding our capacity. Everyone did the best they could, but in retrospect, I wish I would have created a different staffing model that might have alleviated some of the team’s anxiety.

Deborah McCoy

Methodist Hospital of Southern California

Most hospitals, large or small, have mission statements like ours, which emphasize our relationship with the community. During the pandemic, our community showed us, our staff and our hospital generosity and compassion beyond any expectations.

We continue to receive hot meals, gift baskets, letters and donations. This demonstration of support and gratitude reminds us how vital community relationships are to our mission. We are now working to further strengthen those relationships by creating a Patient and Family Advisory Council that will offer recommendations regarding our services and the patient care experience.

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Robyn Nelson

West Coast University

I was very surprised that when nursing students were able to resume clinical rotations, there was unexpected resistance to going to the front lines of direct patient care. Don’t they know that nurses help people and their families cope with illness (and if necessary live with it) so that other parts of their lives can continue?

Nurses do more than care for individuals. They have always been at the forefront of change in healthcare and public health — and part of that is being at the front lines during a pandemic.

Sherry Nolfe

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital

The most surprising aspect has been our nursing teams’ ability to step up and step out of their comfort zones. We saw pediatric nurses caring for adult patients, OR nurses working in inpatient areas and the Children’s Hospital admitting adult patients. Adaptability has been key.

However, in hindsight, we should have pushed to communicate more efficiently with our teams. Communication can be a barrier, especially with rapidly changing policies and procedures.

Lauren Spilsbury

Redlands Community Hospital

It was very reassuring to see how our hospital pulled together as a team. I knew we had the ability, but it was still amazing to see it in action.

Patricia Vasquez

Adventist Health White Memorial

Some of the greatest challenges have been related to the visitation guidelines. It’s important to build and establish family members’ trust in us — and also to help our patients to know who their caregivers are with the use of barriers and PPE.

Ron Yolo

Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center

2020 brought sweeping changes that disrupted our norms. Huge changes in practice may not be easily embraced by staff, but we’ve found that providing the “whys” behind proposed changes can alleviate concerns and help people gradually accept the new norms. Visibility, transparency and collaboration in decision-making are vital to ensuring that new practices are adopted.


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