Methodist Healthcare - April 29, 2020

As a pandemic gripped the nation, pediatric and women’s services nurses cross-trained, providing critical care for adults

The benefit of an established healthcare system is the camaraderie created between multiple hospitals. Each Methodist Healthcare hospital has its own specialties that set them a part, but all of them have the same goal: to collaborate while keeping patient safety and care at the forefront.

As Methodist Hospital planned for a surge of COVID-19 patients, it was obvious the focus needed to be on three areas: space for the sick, the medical and personal protective equipment supply, and staffing. The coronavirus is not affecting the pediatric population at the same rate as adults. Realizing the care teams in the adult hospital would appreciate any assistance they could get; nurses in Methodist Children’s Hospital and the Women’s Services department were ready and willing to train for the challenge.

“Our pediatric and women’s nurses are extremely passionate about what they do,” said Jennifer Shelby, Director of Education. “They have expressed that they want to serve in any way possible. They truly care about our hospital, our patients and families, and their co-workers.”

More than a dozen pediatric and women’s services nurses cross-trained to provide care in several adult specialties. While the fundamentals of nursing are the same across specialties, how you treat and manage adults and children can vary greatly.

“The biggest need was in the intensive care unit,” Shelby said. “They learned anything from the basic mechanics and flow of the unit, to adult disease pathology and how those diseases are managed and treated, and how the medication regimen is managed. They’re reviewing any skills that would be needed for varying disease processes, and the measure it takes to keep our adult patient population safe.”

In addition to the cross-training efforts, many pediatric nurses stepped in to fill new roles created during the COVID-19 response. Patient intake slowed down once the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recommended hospitals across the country cancel elective surgeries. In order to avoid furloughs, pediatric nurses served as health screeners at the hospital entry points, providing temperature checks and masks to patients, visitors, staff and physicians. They also joined to help distribute appropriate quantities of personal protective equipment, around-the-clock, to all of the departments in the hospitals.

“Many children’s hospitals across the country were in a position where furloughing staff was their only option,” said Court LeMaistre, Chief Executive Officer for Methodist Hospital and Women’s Services. “We’re grateful to be a part of a healthcare system that allowed for these cross-training opportunities. This ensured as many of our pediatric team members as possible continued to work during this unprecedented time.”