With health care providers everywhere answering the call to prevent the spread of COVID-19, more than 75 nurses at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany are volunteering to augment the critical care staff to combat the global pandemic if needed.
As part of larger efforts in staff readiness and development, clinical personnel not normally trained in critical care are undergoing training designed to increase staffing capabilities in support of the medical center's COVID-19 operations.
"We're focusing on skills directly related to critically ill COVID-19 patients that are being seen throughout the world right now," said Army Maj. Julie Duffy, a clinical nurse specialist who works in the intensive care unit. "We're working to make sure that [non-ICU nurses] are trained and have the understanding of COVID-19 and what patients are experiencing, and the skills related to it."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urges health care facilities to consider mitigation strategies for staffing shortages to continue providing safe patient care and work environments.
The training aims to educate nursing augmentees from different areas of the hospital in critical care medicine using online and hands-on training under supervision. Subjects include training specific to COVID-19 patients such as hemodynamics monitoring, airway management and mechanical ventilation basics, treating adult respiratory distress syndrome, infection control and personnel protective equipment protocols.
Inpatient nurses, as well as nurses from other units, are volunteering to augment the ICU, increasing the capability to care for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 critically ill patients.
Duffy said participation in the multidisciplinary efforts toward minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on other medical center operations has benefits beyond supporting critical care units.
"There is a benefit for the nurses as well — the sense of purpose and helping," Duffy said. "I think it's going to be big for a lot of them. We know that there's a nursing shortage nationwide, so to be able to know that we helped in some way with the pandemic, I think that will emotionally help nurses."
Three times a week, cohorts of nurses continue to train with ICU and pulmonary staff members using the latest evidenced-based practices in treating individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. As more staff members are trained, Duffy said, she expects training objectives to evolve.
"Right now, it's really more about familiarization with the equipment and just getting some hands on working with it, then we'll be able to throw it into patient scenarios," she said. "Soon enough, nurses from throughout the facility will be trained so they're able to help [in the ICU] should the time arise."
(Marcy Sanchez is assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.)