During her 32-year career at Bayhealth, Pam James, MSN, RN-BC, has cared for some very sick patients. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought some unique challenges to 6B, a floor at the Sussex Campus previously designated for cardio and pulmonary patients.
“These [COVID-19] patients have a long hospital stay, so we become their family,” James said. “It’s scary and it’s trying for all of us. We must address the patients’ mental and emotional health, remembering they’re isolated.” James noted that redeployed staff from day surgery and the OR helped tremendously with patient care. And the newly trained communication techs offer patients a connection through an iPad to their friends and family.
These are not typical times for anyone. It was also somewhat of a staff challenge getting used to wearing an N95 mask covered with a surgical mask, goggles, plus a face shield – necessary for safety, but cumbersome nonetheless.
James said caring for hospitalized COVID patients is also very rewarding. “The whole point is to help them stop feeling dependent and help them feel human again,” she said.
With hard work came big rewards. “Yes, we’re mentally and emotionally exhausted, but it’s what we have a passion for. It’s what we do every day. This pandemic showed us we are all in this together. I worked every day for the last two months, but it’s been so rewarding. It’s so important,” James said.
One of the most tangible rewards for James and her staff is the moment patients are discharged, coming off the elevator into the Bayhealth Hospital Sussex Campus lobby greeted by applause and the Rocky theme, “Gonna Fly Now,” played for their special occasion.
Bayhealth is grateful for its team members like James who are serving on the front lines to care for COVID-19-positive patients in a caring and respectful way.