As a scheduler with Enterprise Scheduling, DeAndra Baker is used to talking with consumers. She efficiently discusses times, dates, and appointment instructions every day. Recently, however, she found herself having longer conversations. The people she was talking to? They weren’t checking their calendars; they were laying in hospital beds. DeAndra is one of a number of schedulers who teamed up with Patient and Family Experience consultants to provide virtual patient rounding for nurse leaders during COVID-19. “The scheduling calls were a little slow, so when I heard about the opportunity, I said ‘sure, let me help out,'” DeAndra said.
Supporting the front line: Patient and Family Experience consultants created teams with schedulers who are usually busy scheduling radiology appointments. They developed a script for nurse leader rounding that includes asking patients how they are feeling in the midst of COVID-19. Once they completed several hours of training, the schedulers and consultants began calling patients identified by nurse managers. “We are Individuals Caring For Individuals, Together®, and this is a way we can help care for patients and support our front-line caregivers,” said Rosalind Washington, Ph.D., M.B.A., MHSM, RRT, CHES, director of Patient and Family Experience.
Nurse leaders typically round on patients once a day. Virtual rounding saves personal protective equipment (PPE) and time for nurse leaders as they manage units during COVID-19. “The virtual rounding has been a great way for us to ensure our patients are checked on while eliminating the exposure of our leadership team,” said Amy Lawless, B.S.N., R.N., manager, Trauma Med-Surg and Medically Complex, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. “We appreciate the collaboration with Patient and Family Experience.”
Comments and concerns shared by patients on the call are entered into Texas Health’s digital rounding tool. An email is sent to the nurse manager if an immediate need is identified. The teams have provided virtual rounding for 19 units at eight Texas Health hospitals since April 20. So far, they’ve completed 1,085 virtual rounds with 818 patients. “This has been an innovative approach to the consumer experience where the team looked at how they could help in a new way leveraging the ‘old school’ technology of the telephone to make a positive difference,” said Kathi Cox, Senior Vice President, Integrated Experience. “I am so proud of how the team was willing to switch gears and pitch in where they were needed.”
DeAndra has made a few adjustments in talking with inpatients. “I try to be a little more gentle in talking with the patients, since they’re in the hospital and not just calling for a mammogram,” said DeAndra. “I want to make sure their spirits are up, and I check to see if they need anything.” The response from patients has been positive. Comments have included “Thank you for calling, you made my day,” “The staff has been great” and “Housekeeping is great, and my nurse is wonderful.”
“Most of the patients are pretty upbeat about being in the hospital during COVID-19,” DeAndra said.
Aisha Hicklen, Patient and Family Experience consultant, recently virtually rounded with a patient on Amy’s unit who had the following to say: “I would like to thank the entire nightshift staff and the surgery team. Night shift has been as sweet as angels, and the dayshift has been very informative and kept me calm. It’s almost like they have radar and always show up exactly when I need them. They have great communication and do what they say they are going to do; everyone feels like they are family. It almost feels like I have been on vacation! The staff even makes sure that I call my family to check in each day. If things get any better here, then I will have to make a reservation!!”
DeAndra has enjoyed the opportunity to make a difference at the bedside. “I’ve really liked talking to the patients and letting them know that everything will be fine,” she said. “I know if I were in the hospital, I would want to have someone positive to talk with and check on me.”