More News Caregivers prepared to help ICU with COVID-19 patients

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Caregivers prepared to help ICU with COVID-19 patients

Marj Jordan, Nurse Manager for the Adult Intensive Care Unit at Rapid City Hospital, has spent the last couple of months preparing her ICU nurses and those from other departments for a pandemic that is now reaching western South Dakota. Eighty nurses from departments outside the ICU have been trained on ICU skills and an additional 20 are ready to be trained.

Shae Heitsch, Intensive Care Unit nurse, in a patient room at Rapid City Hospital.


“We got as many caregivers through as we could, doing trainings twice a day, while our census was relatively low and while we weren’t doing elective surgeries,” Marj said. “It was an amazing amount of very quick teamwork,” she said, noting that the Nursing Professional Development team, Respiratory Therapy and ICU nurse clinicians were key to helping organize the training.

A team identified which skills nurses from other units would need to know in order to help critical care nurses in the ICU with COVID-19 patients during surge capacity. “We went through things like how to suction an intubated patient, how to identify a ventilator alarm and know what that means, and how to draw an arterial line,” Marj said. “After this, we went even further and discussed ‘What would you do differently for a COVID-19 patient?’”

The ICU training for each nurse included an iLearn component, a shadow shift with a Respiratory Therapist, time shadowing an ICU nurse and a skills station, equaling about 13 hours total.

While her team stands prepared, Marj knows that how she handles herself as a manager in the coming weeks will be very important. “There are challenges coming. I need to have open lines of communication and to be there, empathetically, when they need it.”

Marj said that while most caregivers are experiencing some level of fear right now, she expects many of them will show exceptional talent and strength during this crisis. “We’re going to see people really step up and shine. Many are going to rise to the occasion and just blow me away.”

But as with any crisis, she also expects to see people struggle. “This will cause a lot of moral distress and could be catastrophic for some people,” she said. “We’ll be seeing patients decline sometimes in just a matter of hours, and there may be little we can do to make it better. But we’ll do what we need to do, which might just be to cry with them.”

Marj sometimes thinks of her job as a person behind the scenes of a theater production, making the show better and allowing the stars of the show (her nurses) to really shine and gain recognition for their hard work. Thank you to Marj and all managers and leaders for holding your caregivers up and helping them get through these difficult times.

Thank you to nurses from Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care, Heart and Vascular, Progressive Care, Oncology, Medical/Surgical, Float Pool and more who are prepared to assist the ICU. 

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