Possibly as much as any event in history, COVID-19 is demonstrating the need for nurses. These inspiring men and women are on the front lines of the pandemic, facing the emotional toll of caring for sick patients and in many cases separating themselves from family and friends to reduce the risk of infection.
To kick off National Nurses Week, the week when we take extra time to salute the amazing work of nurses, we’re recognizing nurses’ readiness to take action and assume new roles, all to provide the best care for their patients in these uncertain times.
HouseCalls nurses find new ways to help
Before COVID-19, the advanced practice clinicians (APCs) with Optum HouseCalls visited members in their homes. They would perform a head-to-toe exam and health screenings, as well as discuss the member’s overall health care needs.
“I have the time to educate a member. I have the time to talk to them, to their family and really walk through all the things that they need to be successful in their life and in their health,” said Amy Tousignant, a HouseCalls APC in Connecticut.
Since the onset of COVID-19, while Tousignant and her colleagues are not be able to visit their members in their homes, they are finding new ways to serve and support these most vulnerable patients.
“Everyone is raising their hand on how they can help in any way possible,” says Optum Chief Nursing Officer Kristy Duffey.
For a number of nurses, that’s meant redeploying their skills, in some cases staffing call-in centers, in other cases working to provide drive-through testing services.
“With our HouseCalls program on hold, we’ve moved more than 650 nurse practitioners to different parts of the organization,” says Duffey.
Even with these necessary changes, HouseCalls nurses are staying connected to their members. The work just looks different. Rather than driving to a home, they are picking up the phone or logging on using a computer or tablet and connecting through virtual visits.
“Whatever you need, just let me know”
When Tousignant found out home visits were being temporarily suspended she called her patients to connect with them and explain that any upcoming visits would be rescheduled.
Within 24 hours of leaving a voicemail for one particular patient, he called back and told Tousignant, “I really need your help.” She replied with, “Whatever you need, just let me know.”
Amy Tousignant, advanced practice clinician, Optum HouseCalls
Answering questions, easing fears
Jorilyn Miller is also a HouseCalls APC, living and working in Wisconsin. Like Tousignant, she values the time she gets to spend with each patient while she visits them at home, listening to their stories and being a resource for them.
Miller’s long-standing relationships mean she knows the challenges members face, from a lack of transportation to access to the internet. She takes all of this into account when working to find them the resources they need and qualify for.
Besides troubleshooting specific issues, Miller says she’s also connecting with members by phone, answering many questions and, she hopes, easing fears. Listen as she shares her experiences.
Jorilyn Miller, advanced practice clinician, Optum HouseCalls
These are a few of the countless examples of how APCs and nurses across the nation are stepping up and helping others wherever possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Duffey says the stories are indicative of the work happening all across the country.
“It’s all of our collective teams really pitching in to help all of our members,” she says.
Duffey shared more stories about how quickly the 20,000 nurses and clinicians she oversees mobilized to safely care for members during COVID-19 in a recent episode of Dave’s Daily. Click here to watch.