Dr. Ewelina Gibek, DNP, CRNA, APRN is the Lead Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) for Outpatients Services at a hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. In this role, Dr. Gibek is involved in daily anesthesia operations focusing on efficient and effective CRNA staffing, in addition to addressing patient experience and staff satisfaction, improved throughput and growth of CRNA services in the outpatient sector. Dr. Gibek is very interested in healthcare operations and desires to advance her career in this area. Dr. Gibek is a recent graduate of the DNP program at Yale School of Nursing. Dr. Gibek is very passionate about finding connection between her specialty of anesthesiology and the realm of palliative care to improve patients’ experience at the end of the life. Dr. Gibek’s doctoral project focused on increasing access to the interventional pain management therapies for palliative patients with cancer through referral process improvement. She has also been involved in projects pertaining to education of community members about the importance of advanced directives.

Dr. Gibek reports that her outpatient site has been converted to a COVID-19 ICU and she volunteered to work there as an Advance Practice Provider (APP) intensivist. The intensivist has the primary responsibility for the ICU patient’s care versus acting as a consultant. The intensivist oversees the many decisions involved in a critically ill patient’s care and coordinates all the other services the patient may need including those from specialists.  “Leadership team provided us with choices of various work settings where help was urgently needed due to increasing COVID-19 patient volume. We were supported through these role transitions. Because of my clinical experience as a critical care nurse and CRNA, transition to the ICU setting seemed like an appropriate choice, although it was not an easy decision and commitment to make” said Dr. Gibek.

“This frontline experience has been difficult for all providers who are struggling to care for very sick patients with high mortality rates. I feel guilty when I see my nurse colleagues spending long hours in the operating rooms now converted to COVID ICU. Many of us are trying to balance long work hours, caring for our families, and managing home-schooling needs of young children. We are also afraid of exposing our families to the virus. Yet everyone here is committed to doing best to hopefully help”, said Dr. Gibek.  “It has been very difficult to have end of life decision-making conversations with families when they have had no time to properly address them with now critically ill family members,” said Dr. Gibek. Dr. Gibek has recently joined the Medical Professional Advisory Committee of the Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County where she hopes to advocate for the importance of advanced directives and access to palliative care in the community before families are dealing with crisis end of life decision-making.

Dr. Gibek finds camaraderie among her peers and moments outside in nature as being extremely helpful while dealing with the stress of the current situation. “There is little time to process all that is happening and to deal with the sadness and feelings of loss. However, there is such strength in how united we are in this fight against this novelty disease, in pursuit to heal those affected by it, and in belief that the sacrifices we make every day will ultimately bring the world we miss back.  2020 truly is the year of nurses – leaders and reformers of healthcare. We would make Florence Nightingale proud”, said Dr. Gibek