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Aurelio at his desk

A Message from Our President

An exceptional display of teamwork.

We all have had many new experiences during COVID-19. At Memorial Healthcare System, we’ve tried to find the bright side whenever we can. Looking beyond the obvious impact to see where each of us has an opportunity to shine.

I have always been impressed by the teamwork here. It’s part of what we call The Memorial Experience. But the collaboration between our nursing and respiratory therapy professionals is truly next level.

In this issue of our Career e-Newsletter, you will read about the relationship between these two departments. How they are supporting each other during difficult times and why they could never succeed without one another by their side. One article is from the perspective of nursing, the other from respiratory.

These are great stories of collaboration and camaraderie. Which is something you can expect no matter where you work within our organization. I invite you learn more about our culture and our opportunities today.

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Respiratory Therapy

Leadership insights about COVID, nursing collaboration and the future of the profession.

Originally called “inhalation therapy”, the respiratory therapy specialty didn’t emerge until the mid-1940’s. From there, it was several decades before licensing and credentialing was put in place.

Jerry Wright, Director of Respiratory Care Services at Memorial Regional Hospital, remembers when ventilators were yet computerized, at the very beginning of his career in mid-1980’s. Nor were there disposable supplies. Equipment had to be cleaned, sterilized and reassembled and packaged.

“Everything today is so much easier,” he says. “There’s a lot more attention to quality and safety. Plus, there is much more team integration and respect for respiratory therapists as highly educated professionals with very specialized skills. We’re heavily relied on here within Memorial Healthcare System, especially now during COVID.”

Interdisciplinary collaboration thrives here.

“Our nurses have, and have always had, respect for our expertise. We’re working together so intently now, focusing on our COVID patients,” Wright continues. “We have seen many patients suffer and pass away due to this relentless virus. But we support each other through these extremely emotional times. This has definitely brought nursing and respiratory closer together. When we have debriefing sessions to talk about what is happening, and what’s working well, respiratory and nursing are in the same room together. This has truly enhanced the team.”

Wright’s colleague Bryan Leatherwood, Director of Respiratory and Specialty Services at Memorial Hospital West, agrees. “The relationship with nursing has only grown stronger. We communicate like never before. We’ve always had a good relationship, but now that we have to rely on each other more, the bond has just grown stronger. COVID has brought us closer as a team. It’s a silver lining of the pandemic.”

Supporting our respiratory therapists.

BryanLeaders like Wright and Leatherwood are doing what they can to reward their teams during these difficult times. Therapists receive a generous bonus for working extra shifts, along with a program that offers a completion bonus if they commit to four days per week, for 12 weeks. That’s in addition to the shift bonus and a recent wage increase. Referral bonuses are also available to team members who successfully refer qualified respiratory therapists.

“We are also bringing in travelers to support the workload when needed,” says Leatherwood. “We’ve gotten some very good people who have assimilated into our team and are very much into caring about our patients. We’re also trying to help respiratory therapists take some time to decompress. Providing lunch, dinner, an ice cream social or whatever. To help take their minds off the immediate urgency of the situation. Just a little bit of a break in between.”

“And there are no concerns about safety at Memorial,” adds Wright. “Our respiratory therapists never have to worry about running out of PPE or anything like that. Safety is first and foremost here.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow.

Another challenge facing respiratory leaders is that the next graduating class of students will not have had the traditional clinical education, due to COVID. They will come into the job market without ever having practiced their knowledge in a hospital setting. “This is going to be interesting,” muses Leatherwood. “It’s going to put our orientation and in-house education programs to the test. We’ll have to change the way we normally interact with new therapists.”

“I’ve been elected to the Florida Society of Respiratory Care, as the Regional Director for Broward County,” he continues. “Memorial is on the forefront of healthcare in Florida and nationally. So, it’s important that we are represented. One of the things we are talking about in Society meetings is what do we need to do to have students come back into the work environment. Some states are opening up licensure to students to allow them into the clinical setting. We’ll see if those types of changes start taking place in Florida.”

Memorial as a career destination.

Graduating therapists will continue to have opportunities despite COVID, but it is the experienced respiratory therapists that are in extremely high demand. They can go anywhere to grow their careers, so why choose Memorial?

“It’s our culture,” states Wright. “Our culture is like being part of a family, caring for each other. We also have great benefits, quite a bit of autonomy, and can work at the top of our license. We’re an excellent organization and a lot of that is because of the team. We meet with our therapists regularly and ask what’s working well, what we can do better. And 98% of the time, therapists say that they love their team. That everyone is helpful and encouraging. We nurture each other, stick together and have one another’s back. They all know their stuff and will jump in to help however they can.”

“I agree,” says Leatherwood. “You will love the family here. You will also have opportunities to learn. We will continue to train you. Since we are a System, you can go to different clinical sites. If you want to see what it’s like work with children, for example, you can pick up shifts at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. You will be able to explore your curiosity and grow throughout the System when you come on board here.”

Now is the time.

With respiratory in the spotlight, this is an excellent time to put your own career front and center. Learn more about our opportunities now.

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Nursing in the time of COVID-19

Leadership insights on collaborative care and what lies ahead.

Alberto Garcia, Chief Nursing Officer at Memorial Hospital Miramar, joined Memorial Healthcare System during the last two weeks of 2019. “I was just starting here at a nice quiet community hospital. Then, all of a sudden, we’re like ground zero for the pandemic,” he says.

“We were prepared for the pandemic in terms of our emergency management plan, so we always had plenty of PPE and other supplies,” Garcia continues. “But no one could have anticipated the demand we have for hospital-based nurses, specifically in critical care. I feel like we’ve learned a lot, we’ll be in even better shape in the future.”

Building interdisciplinary relationships at the bedside.

One of the things that COVID-19 demonstrated to Garcia was the collaboration inherent to the relationship between nursing and respiratory therapy. “The two have always worked hand-in-hand,” he says. “That part is no different, but to witness the level of teamwork required now is a great thing. Everyone quickly realized that no one is on an island. We must take a collaborative approach.”

He went on to explain how caring for a COVID-19 patient requires four to five people. The respiratory therapist takes the lead in ventilator management, while nursing runs and coordinates the whole process. “It takes a lot of skill and strong communication,” adds Garcia. “It also takes compassion and the willingness to not let the stress get to you.”

“We all really appreciate each other and the small acts of kindness that are helping to get us through these hard times. If there was ever a time that respiratory was underappreciated, that is no longer the case. They play such a valuable and integral role on our team.”

Catching up on clinical education.

Garcia is a board member on the South Florida Nursing Consortium. The group has significant goals for building the pipeline of future nurses by introducing the profession to high school students. One of things stressed by the Consortium is the level of technology used in nursing today, as way to compete with other desirable careers.

The group also faced the challenges that were presented when new graduates were leaving nursing school without being able to do their clinicals, due to the pandemic. Fortunately, preceptorships and other in-hospital experiences for student nurses have restarted. Memorial Healthcare System has also ramped up its Nurse Residency Program for new graduates. Garcia leads the program at Memorial Hospital Miramar.

“We will have the largest ever number of nurse residents in our March 2021 cohort. I will have 25 at my facility, which is one of the smallest in the System,” he says. “We are in good standing with our model. We are able to engage new talent as one of the best employers in the area. We have a positive reputation for our good working environment.”

Garcia also looks forward to a new program that will train experienced nurses for in-demand specialties. “It will be an exciting opportunity for nurses who are curious about changing their path,” he explains. “We will give them the structure to gain advanced skills. We’re still working out the details, but we’ll be announcing it soon.”

Incentivizing top nursing talent.

Garcia took a vested interest in what is going on with each and every nurse on his team. “We try to meet any special needs, including leave time during the pandemic. We communicate constantly, so everyone knows that we are working together with the same goal and focus.”

Memorial has raised its sign-on bonus for hard-to-fill nursing positions. There is also a generous bonus for working extra shifts, along with a program that offers a completion bonus if nurses commit to a specific workload for 12 weeks. That’s in addition to the shift bonus. Referral bonuses are also available to non-nursing team members who successfully refer qualified RNs.

Find your place.

Memorial Healthcare System is a top destination for nurses who want to live a great community and practice at the top of their license at any of our six hospitals. Learn more when you apply online today.