Providing home care for coronavirus patients part of the job

“We have all the equipment we need to go into homes and feel 100% safe”

Collage of two nurses standing and smiling in different offices

At Good Samaritan Society-Specialty Care Community in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, caregivers battle the coronavirus pandemic by going to people’s homes to give aid to those who have contracted the disease.

Those involved in these acts of kindness and courage say this is common within the profession. This is how nurses involved in home health care carry out their jobs.

Clinical manager Lisa Swanson makes the assignments for the staff at Good Samaritan Society-Specialty Care Community. She anticipated, as the pandemic’s numbers grew, that her home care nurses were going to be dealing with coronavirus patients.

When the first opportunity to go into a patient’s home came up, she volunteered herself for the assignment.

“I did not want to send my nurses out into something I hadn’t done myself,” Swanson said. “If I did the first one, I could write a process down and make sure they were prepared for it when it was their turn.”

Precautions crucial

Treating someone where they live is not the same as treating people at a clinic. Precautions are more robust in the best of times. Now, under present circumstances, it’s even more important.

“We have an awesome team here that makes sure we have the PPE we need,” said Dawn Brenner, an RN case manager at the location who makes regular visits to a patient with the coronavirus. “We have all the equipment we need to go into homes and feel 100% safe.”

Ultimately, the staff’s work in treating those with the virus is built on a philosophy established at the location. That goes for the profession as well.

“We’ve always been a ‘yes’ team here,” said Specialty Care Community administrator Jaime Bergren-Hanish. “We want to take care of people. I didn’t think that was going to change when COVID became an issue for all of us. I our staff — the RNs and LPNs — would just not have it any other way.”

Nurses at the location care for just one coronavirus patient each and make sure that home visit is their last of day. There is no chance, then, of passing the virus along to another patient.

Able to execute the job

The staff’s reaction to the pandemic is a reminder for Bergren-Hanish. It is not in spite of the additional challenges that they do what they do, but rather because of them.

“People who are drawn to home health care are really strong, independent thinkers,” she said. “They can work really hard without anyone helping them. It’s not like there is a supply closet down the hall — they’re able to execute their jobs without some of the resources that other service lines have at their disposal.”

Swanson and Brenner are both dealing with patients who are extremely grateful for the measures the staff has taken to facilitate the healing process. Plus, they’re witness to that healing process in a unique way.

“My patient was stuck in her bedroom on my first visit,” Swanson said. “That was a Tuesday. She was pretty depressed about it. I saw her again on Thursday and she was still in the contagious window but she was feeling a little better.”

Conversely, a week later things were different.

“She could come out of her room and she was thrilled about that,” Swanson said. “She was ready to live a normal life again — very happy and upbeat. It was a big change from the beginning.”

It was one individual example of hope, in other words. There are plenty more out there.

“We have an awesome team to work with,” Brenner said. “During what some might call a scary time, it makes it a lot easier to go in and do a job when you know you have an entire team backing you up.”

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Posted In Coronavirus, Sanford Stories, Senior Services