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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.