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East Region Colleagues Answer the Call for Help

January 18, 2022

In the current omicron wave of the COVID pandemic resulting in significant numbers of hospital  staff out with illness on top of a flood of COVID inpatients as well as other types of hospitalizations, it was clear that help was needed. So Rebecca Durham, senior director of clinical and operational integration for Hartford HealthCare's East Region, put out the call. Managers, directors, administrators, SSO team members and nurse navigators all were asked if they could pitch in on care floors at Backus and Windham. “Within a day, I received replies from everyone, and within three days we had a schedule out,” Durham said. “There was just a tremendous outpouring. And people are continuing to offer, it’s been so great.” A spreadsheet of needed areas of help lists everything from hourly rounding to lunch break relief to respiratory therapy couriers to people to help turn patients as needed. The schedule is filled through the end of January and will be continued as needed. “I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for continuing to exemplify an unwavering resilience in the midst of this relentless pandemic,” said East Region President Donna Handley. “Because of your selfless efforts and incredible teamwork, we have continued to provide the best and safest care possible for our patients by coordinating as a region to leverage all available care locations. All of our departments have stepped up to help one another as team members continue to be out sick throughout the region and we could not be more proud of everything you have been able to accomplish.” Catherine Bolles, a Risk Manager for the East Region, has been doing hourly rounding at Backus. “My experience rounding has been great,” she said. “I have introduced myself to many people, both providers and nursing staff. I get the opportunity to thank them individually for all their hard work and dedication and ask, ‘How can I help you or your patients?’ I am met with many smiling faces from the staff members as well as patients. Even if it just means providing tissues or drinks, or restocking gloves in a room, it matters to them.” Bolles said, “As a nurse, I want to help the staff in any way I can. They have worked exhaustively through the pandemic and my hope is that all individuals who are rounding provide the staff with the sense that all of us in the organization are there to support them. Working with patients at the bedside is a very rewarding feeling. I am grateful to hear patients tell me what a great care team they have.” Community health nurse Michele Brezniak is working as a “helping hands” on a Backus floor, where she worked for 14 years before moving to community health last fall. “I’m helping pass meds, assist the nurses and PCTs, do hourly rounding, answer phones and help the UC, transport patients, bring specimens to the lab, cover lunch breaks, answer call bells, bring patients to the bathroom - whatever the need is, I’m helping to fulfill it.” When she heard help was needed, “Going back was something I felt I needed to do, to help with how busy I know they are. If there is one thing COVID has shown us it’s that we are all in this together and I am happy to do my part to help.” Glenn Stadnick, a Regional Compliance and Internal Audit Manager in the East Region’s Office of Compliance and Integrity, takes part in the daily safety huddle. “I was regularly hearing the challenges associated with the volume and acuity of patients and the toll that was taking on the staff, so I thought if I could support the frontline staff and help with patient experience I would do what I could,” he said. For Scott Vezina, Radiology Manager at Windham Hospital, rounding at Windham has been “a meaningful experience for me being able to actually help in small yet big ways. Knowing that it's appreciated – hearing that over and over again – makes me feel good about the extra time given. I’m not sure who gets more out of it, them or me!”