Cara Martinez, RN, BSN, CRRN
Cara Martinez, RN, BSN, CRRN, is only too happy to talk about the impressive measures that Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation put in place since the inception of the COVID pandemic.
Cara credits Bacharach’s stellar record to the insight of the infection control team, administration, and an engaged and determined nursing and clinical staff.
“We started in early March,” she said recently. “We were already holding administrative meetings that were like a think tank, so we were able to act quickly on whatever needed to be done. In March, we implemented temperature screenings and began asking everyone the travel and exposure questions.”
As information became available and guidelines changed, the hospital was able to respond quickly. “We started with changes in behavior,” said Cara. “Social distancing, mask wearing, taking staff temperatures and reinforcing education.”
“We have gone beyond CDC guidelines in terms of our behaviors,” said Cara. “We gown up for every patient we come into contact with. It is time consuming but now it is second nature. All clinical staff are wearing face masks and face shields throughout the shift. We are on the offensive instead of playing defense.”
Over time, the policies and technologies have improved. Now there are also changes to the environment. “We built a secure unit on each wing for COVID positive patients. Should a patient convert to positive, that is where they would be placed. The same staff members would care for that patient the entire day, and for the patient’s entire stay to minimize exposure to others.”
The third critical area of change has been clinical change.
“We now have facial hands-free temperature scanning, the newest technology. Now there is rapid testing available – if any symptoms arise, you can test and know the results in 2 hours. It used to take 7 days, then 5 days, then 3 days. We keep daily logs of everyone who has taken care of any patient, should contact tracing be needed.”
“When a patient arrives, they are in a private room for 14 day. All therapy takes place in the room. After 14 days, they can have therapy in the gym where there is strict social distancing enforced, as well as wearing PPE.”
“The best thing that has come out of all of this is that nursing is using technology more. We zoom or facetime with families because they can’t physically visit. But we take advantage of that and teach medication administration, wound care, and other family training information. “
“Since the patients spend so much time in their rooms now, we encourage families to call and let them know we are available 24 hours a day. We take moments to visit the patients in their room and have lots of interactions with them.”
As for the shift-long wearing of masks and face shields, Cara said, “We have all learned to smile with our eyes.”
Summing up the extraordinary work of the last 3 ½ months, Cara said, “We have been successful because we planned collaboratively, implemented our plan and then made changes if improvements were needed. Everybody wanted to be involved and everyone helped.”