Many hospitals are examining changes made in response to the spring surge of COVID-19 patients and asking: What safety and other practices should we keep?
For Elizabeth Lydstone, R.N., Director of Maternal and Child Health at Lowell General Hospital, the crisis strengthened partnerships with the larger Lowell community and underscored the value of team nursing.
Lydstone and her staff have been working with social service providers, often together with language interpreters, on conference calls or in Zoom meetings to prepare mothers, partners and families for the hospital experience and discharge to home. They have been advising some patients, for example, on housing options. Lydstone reports that individuals grew closer as they collaborated on behalf of patients and families. She notes, “Our relationships became more respectful. You develop new appreciation for people when you depend on each other. Working so closely together, we were able to deepen our mutual trust. It's just an amazing feeling.”
Using care teams on COVID units reminded Lydstone of the principles of team nursing, a multidisciplinary approach to patient-centered care developed in the 1950s. She says the hospital needed “all hands on deck” to respond to the crisis, and that the newly formed teams delivered. The experience leads her to think, “Perhaps we should look beyond the scope of what we need today, keep some things, like these care teams, intact to increase and improve the way that we care for patients.”