CNO Roundtable

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Q: How have you been able to support your nursing teams during the novel coronavirus crisis?

Lori Burnell, RN, BSN, Ph.D., NEA-BC

Sr. Vice President / Chief Nursing Officer
Valley Presbyterian Hospital

As a standalone community hospital, Valley Presbyterian must understand COVID-19 to effectively care for our patients and mitigate the imminent danger to our staff. To manage this crisis, we’ve opened a command center, and our executive team has met for six or more hours every day to proactively address issues and effectively manage escalation fears. We are providing the personal protective equipment our nursing staff needs to safeguard our own health so that we can focus on our patients.

Jennifer R. Castaldo, RN, BSN, MSHA, NEA-BC

Vice President / CNO
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital

Two practices I’ve found are critically important during a crisis like this are consistent rounding to offer support and encouragement and ongoing training in isolation precautions and the proper use of personal protective equipment.  In addition to classes, this includes daily rounds by our infection prevention staff, clinical educators, managers and directors. Our nurses are courageous and eager to serve. Being armed with the necessary knowledge allows them to focus on their important work.We’ve also taken a number of steps to help keep all our employees safe, including screening all employees as they come to work each day, implementing drive-through testing for COVID-19 to reduce staff exposure and converting units to cohort persons of interest and confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Derek Drake, RN, DNP, NE-BC, CNML, CNL

Chief Nursing Officer
St. Francis Medical Center

Our organization has spent the last three months developing and implementing comprehensive COVID-19 strategies. However, I’ve found that I’m best able to support my team by making myself as available as possible and empowering them with as much knowledge as I can. I’ve ditched the suit and tie and reverted to scrubs. I round frequently to answer questions, assist with clinical tasks, provide guidance on PPE or simply allow the staff to vent.  We have created a daily dashboard to show our current COVID-19 statistics as well as an important message of the day. I’ve found that staff really appreciate the transparency of the data. Also, knowing that the quickest way to nurses’ hearts is through their stomachs, we have created a “Gratitude Cart” with snacks and treats. The entire executive team rounds with me weekly to thank our staff for their commitment and dedication.

Katie Hughes, RN, MSN, CRRN

Chief Nursing Officer
Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare

Early on in the pandemic, our hospital leadership recognized that the best way to help relieve the anxiety of the nurses and other clinical staff was to ensure they had the personal protective equipment they needed. Procurement of adequate PPE supplies became our highest priority as an organization.  Thanks to some amazing donations and the resourcefulness of several of our hospital leaders, we have been able to ensure that our nurses have the equipment they need. However, although we can now say with greater confidence that we have adequate supplies to protect the clinical staff, this pandemic is ongoing, so PPE supplies remain one of our top priorities.

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Robyn M. Nelson, RN, Ph.D., MSN

Dean, College of Nursing
West Coast University

Our university has focused on the health and safety of our faculty and students. For students, we have associates certified in mental health first aid available in addition to our existing student assistance programs. For faculty, we have implemented changes to existing sick and vacation time policies, including additional sick time for 2020. We’re also sending weekly messages regarding strategies for working remotely; reminders of the support available; and appreciation for flexibility, encouragement and positivity during this healthcare crisis.

Denise Robinson, RN, DNP, MPH, WOCN

Chief Nursing Officer
Loma Linda University Medical Center

Hospital-provided scrubs are available for employees working in the ED or designated COVID-19 units; after their shifts, employees can change back into their nonclinical attire and leave the scrubs to be washed.  Local hotels are offering special rates to employees looking to stay in a hotel to protect their families during this time. (Nurses may also be eligible for a state program providing no-cost hotel rooms to frontline healthcare workers who meet certain criteria.) We’re also coordinating food distribution to all the frontline staff. Chaplains round throughout the organization to provide emotional and spiritual support to employees, patients and families, and we can arrange virtual visits for COVID-19 floors.  Nurses on the COVID-19 units can also take advantage of emotional support/renewal rooms, an idea developed by our professional governance team to give staff quiet, peaceful areas where they can decompress for a few minutes during high-stress periods of their shift.

Gloria Sanchez-Rico, RN, BSN, MBA, NEA-BC

Chief Nursing Officer/Senior Vice President
Huntington Hospital

Our priority during this crisis has been the health and wellbeing of caregivers and support staff. We offer free local lodging, onsite showers and scrubs to everyone working in the ED and COVID-19 units.  We are also focused on the mental health of our staff, offering daily mental health resources, three weekly virtual counseling sessions and respite rooms where staff can step away for a moment of peace during their breaks.  Our chaplains also round with a tea cart to provide face-to-face support and an opportunity for caregivers to share or have a tea break. I round during shift change to show appreciation and connect with our staff. It’s a challenging time, but we are getting through it all together.

Linda Sarna, RN, Ph.D., FAAN

Dean / Professor / Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Chair
UCLA School of Nursing

I have been working with my fellow deans at the University of California and across the nation to push for temporary regulatory changes to expedite graduation for our nursing students during this time of crisis — including the use of simulation, which is supported by evidence.  Current simulation is very sophisticated. It mimics the reality of clinical experience and gets students ready for practice.

Lauren Spilsbury, RN, MSN

Vice President, Patient Care Services
Redlands Community Hospital

Our nursing leaders are actively rounding on all units to ensure that safe practices are being followed, offering support and guidance, and making sure adequate personal protective equipment is available to protect the safety and health of staff and their families.  We have also expanded the number of negative pressure rooms sevenfold, and each unit caring for COVID-19 patients has a “PPE buddy” to assist in appropriate isolation procedures and proper donning and doffing of PPE. Because every army functions better with good food, we also have a team working with the community to provide healthy snacks and meals for the departments on a rotating basis.  I don’t use the word “army” in jest. We are an army, fighting this disease with all our might. I am awed by how our nursing staff has risen to the challenge; they are prepared, strong and ready to fight!

Irena Zuanic, RN, MSN, NEA-BC

Vice President / Chief Nursing Officer
PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital

In these times of crisis, it is very important to enhance communication with the staff. For instance, we have created a repository of the ever-changing COVID-19 information, and we send daily emails from our command center with critical updates.  Leadership rounding is essential to communicating with our team in real time to answer questions and — most importantly — thank the staff for their commitment to our patients and community. I am continuously impressed by the level of compassion and care that our staff is providing to all of our patients, especially those affected by COVID-19.

For more from the CNO Roundtable:

2020: The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

Your Path to Leadership

Lifelong Learning

Nurses in the Media

Staffing Challenges and the Silver Wave

CNO Reading List

New Grads at the Bedside

Exciting Innovations

Chief Nursing Officer Roundtable 2020 (homepage)


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