Morufat Tajudeen, BSN, RN, CCHP, is the Regional Nurse Manager overseeing 13 Correctional Facilities with multidisciplinary teams throughout the state of New Jersey. Tajudeen works closely with the Juvenile Justice Commission. Tajudeen started her nursing career in Long Term Care and Critical Care. Within a year, she was promoted into a Department Nurse Manager and quickly after that stepped into her current role. Tajudeen is dedicated to the profession of nursing and strongly believes that every nurse has a calling which must be revisited in critical times like this. When nurses are questioning their career choice during this pandemic, she suggests to reflect on the WHY – why did you want to become a nurse? – and the answer to this question will give the courage to keep going.
Tajudeen has elevated her focus on the health and well-being of her staff, being an advocate for her staff in terms of PPE and mental health concerns. She has also had to step up to the administration in terms of staff assignments and dissemination of protective equipment for the entire staff, not just focusing on nursing. “Working with the juvenile population presents its own challenges. There are many parents that are in a very confused and stressful mindset, and stepping up as a support system for the parents that do not know what is going on with their kids, it has been very difficult,” says Tajudeen. As a parent, Tajudeen understands and has empathy for what the parents are going through and does her best to keep all the parents informed and mitigate their concerns while they cannot see their children.
Familial cooperation is one of the biggest challenges for Tajudeen. When dealing with the families, while some are receptive, there are many parents that are not. There are protocols in regard to COVID-19 testing that are being considered for incarcerated juveniles and parents call with misinformation about how the testing is causing COVID so not to test their children. So Tajudeen must be the expert and explain to families that their sources of information are not supported by evidence. There are youth that are over 18 years and can legally consent, but their parents are still on the other side opposing any testing. For those parents who continue to resist, Tajudeen must work collaboratively with Juvenile Justice Commission to handle each child case by case.
As a result of this crisis, Tajudeen can see a lot of change coming for the role of nursing, and medicine in general. Nurses are required to be at the bedside; however, tele-health and tele-communicating have become a virtual possibility. She is concerned that the unions may pose hard requirements that may not support this type of change in providing care. She also sees nurses that may want to leave the bedside because of what they have been exposed to, the level of morbidity and mortality, and some nurses who were not at the bedside that will want to be more involved. In either case, there will be huge shifts in the way nursing as a profession is going to evolve.
The main concern for the profession going forward will be addressing mental health for front line staff. Tajudeen’s sites are connected to the behavioral health division of the parent organization. So, they have access to Employee Assistance Program for their staff. Tajudeen has elevated her role in educating her staff for the resources that are available to them, without exposing any identity or privacy issues. That has been at the forefront of her role as well because once this is all over, the mental health of her staff will need to be priority to ensure that they have the support they need to move forward. Tajudeen is dedicated to the children in the juvenile system and their families and continues to lead her staff with positivity, encouragement and dedication, promoting their health and wellness every step of the way.