Nurses Are Healthcare Quality Leaders

By Michelle Sanchez, MSN, RN, CPHQ Oct 06, 2020

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We all remember where we were when a significant event occurs in our lives.

We all remember where we were when a significant event occurs in our lives. For nurses, COVID-19 took us more deeply into the world of healthcare quality, filled with innovation and practice changes, change management and assessing outcomes. Healthcare Quality Week and International Infection Prevention Week both occur Oct. 18-24, which is an opportune time to reflect and recognize your efforts to pursue the best care for your patients.

Where were you when …?

So, where were you when you first heard about COVID-19? Did you think it would have such a huge impact on how we live and work every day, for what seems an indefinite amount of time? I remember hearing about the virus in Wuhan, China, in January, and worried about my upcoming work travel in February. I prayed for everyone’s safety. When I returned from my trip, everything changed quickly. A new focus was now in front of us, and it was all hands on deck.

When we look back on this year, I’m hopeful we will see the positive outcomes associated with the changes to our work and lifestyle. Spending more time with family during quarantine, exploring local treasures, and the innovation and empowerment of nurses doing the very best for their patients. Many popular and enduring songs are written to memorialize events and how we felt following them. I can think of a few songs that were composed about events before I was born, but by listening to them I can relate to the feelings evoked by the events. This year, social media has been filled with parodies of songs, including this popular one about COVID-19, and artists releasing new music about their experiences in quarantine.

Nurses Step Up

As we watched the virus spread in one hot zone after another, the race to understand and prepare was on. Now that we’ve been living with this pandemic for many months, we are in a new place related to COVID-19 and healthcare quality. While you may not have officially prepared for this role, you are experientially and educationally stepping up to the plate. Our AACN theme, This Is Our Moment — All In, captures it well.

Patient Outcomes and the Impact of COVID-19

As our new normal extends into 2021, units are now concerned with how to track data and what the outcomes actually are when the patient population and acuity are not the same as they were. Complex isolation and treatment plans have created challenges related to hospital-acquired conditions (HACs). During this time it has been you, the nurse, who is sharing and reporting the successes and challenges that continue to evolve on a daily, even hourly, basis. Some examples include:

  • Updating staffing models to maintain safe and appropriate staffing
  • Revising communication strategies to ensure continued effective patient care amid constantly changing circumstances and guidelines
  • Continuing to innovate to address HACs, particularly for prone patients

I encourage you to reflect with your co-workers and teams during Healthcare Quality Week on the impact you are having every day. Visit the International Infection Prevention Week website for posters and ideas to share this important work. Let us celebrate the good work we have done in our efforts to address these challenges and mitigate HACs.

What successes and challenges can you share concerning healthcare quality during this COVID-19 time?