Nancy Rizzuto, MSN, RN, ANP, CCRN, is the Interim Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and former Director of Critical Care and Cardiac Services at a university hospital medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Rizzuto is currently completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Yale University’s School of Nursing (YSN).

Rizzuto oversees 1300 full-time staff, 10 nursing divisions, nursing quality & performance improvement efforts, nurse staffing, payroll department, patient relations, and the respiratory care department. Rizzuto is accountable 24 hours / 7 days a week for the healthcare system and has been at the hospital 5 days a week, working 12-hour days, with virtual meetings throughout the week during this pandemic. In the past week, Rizzuto has set up an outpatient testing facility, increased the hospital’s capacity by 50%, transformed a Critical Care Unit (CCU) into what is now the COVID ICU, and a 32- bed medical floor into a COVID-19 specific medical unit. Rizzuto has allocated her limited resources and staff to meet the demands of COVID-19 crisis while striving to protect the health and well being of the healthcare team. The demand for hospital beds continues to grow and daily assessments and decisions are made to accommodate the rapid influx of patients. Sadly, health care providers are testing positive for COVID-19 post exposure from providing patient care – primarily before the pandemic was declared.

Currently, half of the patient population at the center have tested positive for COVID-19. Rizzuto shared that, “In order to deliver the best patient care while balancing staff safety, we went back to the basics and follow what we know to be true evidence-based practices.” Nursing administration has found ways to support staff with the necessary equipment and by deploying nurse educators to provide unit- based education on evolving policy changes and proper precautions to alleviate staff confusion. Rizzuto stressed that as a nurse leader, visibility and availability are critical to guiding and supporting her staff during this chaotic time. She has been prepared in scrubs since the crisis began and makes frequent trips to the units to assess needs and offer support, guidance, and encouragement to her staff. “I am fortunate to have a team of dedicated, highly competent professionals in addition to a strong nursing leadership team working with me – we are all in this together” states Rizzuto. She credits the relationships she has developed with her team over the past 3 years, both as a Director of Nursing and as the CNO, as being paramount to her effectiveness in leading during these tumultuous times. She has always fostered a positive organizational culture that is based on mutual trust and respect. Her staff knows they can count on her through this unpredictable time. The staff has been incredibly resilient during all the chaos and has found effective ways to deal with stress by using humor, like her ICU staff who recently choreographed a Tic Tok video to share with her.

Day in the Life of CNO- Rizzuto During COVID-19 :

11pm- 5 AM: Sleep while on-call and responding to urgent needs.

7 AM: Night Supervisory report with all of the Directors of Nursing (DONs) and Nurse Managers (NMs) on the call

7- 7:30 AM: Visit high need units to check with night staff to determine their needs and determine the needs for the day

7:45 AM: All Administration meeting to review reports for each service area, census, COVID positive cases, Equipment status and any security issues

9AM -7 PM: Participate in calls with CDC and DOH, visit high need units, disseminate information to staff either through Directors, nurse managers or direct push to staff as necessary.

7PM- 11pm: Respond to urgent hospital needs and complete doctoral assignments.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any employee other than that of the author.