Edna Brisco, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, OCN, CNML, is the Associate Chief Nursing Officer for Emory Decatur Hospital. Ms. Brisco has been a nurse for 27 years and at this organization for the last 23 years. During her career, Ms. Brisco has served in several roles which include clinical staff nurse on inpatient and outpatient oncology units, throughput coordinator, administrative supervisor, nurse manager, executive director and currently, the Associate Chief Nursing Officer. Brisco holds professional memberships in the American Nurses Association, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, and the Oncology Nursing Society.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have worn many hats. However, the hat that I have worn the most during this time is that of a change agent. As a leader during this challenging time, it is my job to strategize, operationalize and facilitate change, while working to ensure that staff and patients are safe. During the first week of the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw the teamwork in our organization strengthened to meet the needs of our patients, our staff, and our organization. We did extraordinary work that would typically take months of prep work and planning in a matter of days. To start, we transformed our express admission unit and our surgical unit into COVID-19 units. Directly following, we determined a need to convert our ICU into a COVID-19 ICU. Accomplishing this goal required the movement of all our non-covid patients out of the ICU. Subsequently, we transformed our PACU into a vented ICU, we converted our stepdown unit into a non-vented ICU, and we transformed several beds on our telemetry unit into a stepdown unit. As one can imagine, succeeding with these changes while continuing to provide our patients with high quality care required efforts from multiple departments which included support from our senior leaders, our physician partners, nursing, shared governance, nursing education, informatics team, environmental services team, pharmacy, central distribution, biomed and multiple other departments. Notably, the collaboration and efforts required to bring about these drastic changes is simply remarkable, and I am beyond proud of our team and our organization,” said Ms. Brisco.
“From a nursing perspective, realizing the changes noted above while providing our patients with safe, high quality care is always at the forefront of our thoughts. In view of that, we worked to ensure that we had a team of competent and capable nurses providing our patients with the level of care that is essential to meet their needs. For that reason, we partnered with the professional development team and we developed training classes that supplied the nurses with the skills that are required to provide our patients with the care that was needed at each juncture in their stay. I am happy to say that we trained over 100 nurses from our PACU, stepdown and emergency department to provide ICU level of care. Additionally, to maintain safety, we partnered with our infection prevention team to train all the nursing staff on proper utilizing of PPE, including donning and doffing techniques”, said Ms. Brisco.
“Clear communication is key when undergoing change. The biggest issue was ensuring that we had clear communication while managing the numerous changes that occurred as we learned about this novel coronavirus. In our operating unit, we have over 1300 clinical staff nurses and 400 patient care attendants and it was challenging to keep all the nursing staff informed of the changes that were rapidly occurring. Fortunately, in addition to email, we were able to utilize zoom and leverage our tiered huddles to communicate in an effective and timely manner. This allowed for the vertical movement of information up and down the organization’s hierarchy, ultimately providing the transparency that is required for collaboration, cooperation and collective decision making”, said Ms. Brisco.
Calls to Action
“As a Nurse Leader in the midst of this pandemic, I found that it is extremely important to be visible and to be present and in the moment with the nurse leaders, clinical staff and all of the healthcare heroes that are on the frontlines providing care for the COVID-19 patients,” said. Ms. Brisco.
A simple “thank you” can go a long way in the workplace. Ms. Brisco believes that is important to take time to appreciate others. When people feel valued and appreciated for the work that they are doing they become more engaged and involved in the workplace.
Since family members are not allowed in the hospitals, be kind and compassionate as we provide care for our patients. Our patients should not feel like they are alone!
Maintain shared governance structure throughout the pandemic. It is important to have the voice of the clinical nurse at the table when making decisions that directly impact them.
Take care of our frontline healthcare heroes as they give their all while providing care for our patients. This pandemic has been stressful, and we know that our staff members may be dealing with panic disorders, stress disorders, depression, and PTSD. We must be proactive in our approach to finding people that are at risk and likewise, we must have resources readily available to assist as needed.
Mitigate the economic disparities that lead to the disproportionate number of deaths related to COVID-19 in black communities. Preliminary data shows that the ratio of deaths from COVID- 19 is nearly two times greater in African Americans based on their portion of the population.